Thad Oviatt of Parkent tells us about the Micromobility Market.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Parkent.
Thad Oviatt: I started Parkent in 2013 based on a master’s project on a smart bike rack. I made it to help a friend who had 2 bicycles stolen in one week. This was after working for Delta Air Lines and LexisNexis as a programmer. The good news is I use all my education in building Parkent. I studied computer engineering at Georgia Tech and have a B.S.E.E., M.S. in Applied Engineering management, as well as an M.B.A. from Georgia Southern. The rise of electric bicycles (ebikes) caused Parkent to pivot into a universal secure electric bicycle charging station. Parkent is also run by my father, Mark Oviatt, who has over 30 years of technical sales experience and was the first to install laptops into police vehicles in the 1990s. Our other contract worker is Alessandra Shahan, who has worked for corporations and other startups in graphic design consulting. Parkent manufactures and assembles all of the charging stations in the State of Georgia.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Thad Oviatt: I am a very curious person who likes to learn. With the internet at my fingertips, I go down rabbit holes of curiosity on whatever subject I’m interested in. This has helped with learning new technology to move the business further ahead.
How does Parkent market its product/services online?
Thad Oviatt: I post on social media pages involving bicycling, electric vehicles (E.V.s), and E.V. charging. Also, I comment on articles involving E.V. charging stations and ebike deployments. I also exhibit at trade shows like TechCrunch Disrupt: New York and at C.E.S. as part of the eMobility Experience. The marking line is “Our universal secure ebike charging stations can safely park and charge any ebike on the market.”
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Thad Oviatt: Basic things like Excel, Chrome, and Google Mail.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Thad Oviatt: I have not yet started to higher employees.
How are you funding your growth?
Thad Oviatt: The business has basically been bootstrapped from the start. There has been some outside investment from accelerator programs like Flashpoint at Georgia Tech and The FARM | Boomtown in Atlanta, Georgia. There was also a grant that was won from TechUnited: New Jersey.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Thad Oviatt: My competitors are Swiftmile, Bikeep, Charge, Kuhmute, Bikelink, Knot, Duckt, and Samocat. These competitors are using adaptors, special plugs, and stations that can only service a portion of the ebike market. Parkent’s stations secure the wheel and frame of every ebike on the market. The rider need only bring their own charger to plug into the station’s powered outlet. This way, the ebike will be safely parked and properly charged. Parkent’s stations are based on the one virtual point every bicycle has in common. The stations are technology agnostic and able to upgrade along with changing technology needs.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Thad Oviatt: Parkent’s first customer was Mobile App Hero. They were the first to purchase a station sponsorship through a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Because of them, Parkent was able to soft launch their first station into Atlanta Tech Village in metro Atlanta, Georgia.
Your final thoughts.
Thad Oviatt: Ebikes are the fastest growing section of the E.V. market. There are now more ebikes being sold than every other E.V. combined. Ebikes are also the most underrepresented when it comes to public E.V. charging stations. There are over 100,000 car charging stations across the United States and only 9 locations to publicly charge an ebike. Parkent provides the world’s first universal secure ebike charging station.
Website – https://www.parkentcycles.com
Instructional Charging Station Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyls6UYUYV8
The FARM Demo Day Pitch video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4gpZpwlZsQ
Founders Introduction video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aTeJoupp2Y