This startup wants to end all your parking ticket hassles

Wizzpass founder, Bradley Hornby on convincing South Africans to join the cashless movement and the importance of market validation


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For many people, parking tickets are something of a necessary evil. They are prone to bending or tearing, are at constant risk of getting lost and perhaps most frustratingly, having to ensure that you have cash on hand to pay for them.

The Wizzpass app interface.

With their latest innovation the founders of Wizzpass are hoping to get rid of parking ticket hassles forever.

"This was a massive problem and pain point for me personally. I don’t carry cash with me and it got to a point where I was seriously frustrated with the parking experience when going to shopping malls," says CEO Bradley Hornby who together with co-founders Ulrich Stark, Tyron Fouche, Francois Stark, William Saunders launched the app in 2015. 

"I thought there has to be a more streamlined way of paying for parking at shopping malls and wanted to solve my own frustration. It became apparent very quickly that I was not the only one who felt this frustration," says Hornby. 

The smartphone application, which is still in Beta, will allow users to open parking booms, gates or barriers at shopping malls, office parks and residential complexes. The parking fee payable is then automatically deducted directly off your credit card.

The startup is also soon looking at doing cashless fuel payments and cashless vending machine payments by directly linking you to the fuel pump and vending machine, says Hornby.

We speak to Hornby about convincing South Africans to go cashless, and how smartphones will become our digital key to everything. 

On our differentiating factor
We are a smartphone application which requires user interaction with booms, barriers and mechanised objects. The user has control over each action and the client benefits from improved security, better customer knowledge and cost savings. We believe that smartphone uptake will continue to grow and grow and in the near future, the smartphone will be the medium for everyday activities and actions. The smartphone will be your digital key to everything you do.

"There are a lot of people telling why you won’t succeed rather than why you will"

On funding 
We have bootstrapped
 WizzPass up to this point with personal savings.

On being a tech startup
The experience has been very interesting. It is a very technical industry with multiple role players. You quickly understand who is who in the industry and who the best people are to talk to gain traction as quickly as possible.

The biggest hurdle is probably the development of our technology system. We faced certain roadblocks in our initial technological setup that we had to re-look at as a system. Luckily we were able to learn as we developed the technology, and we have now overcome the initial technical difficulties.

On the startup community
If you are solving a real problem anyone and everyone is happy to meet and hear what you have to say. It has been surprising how many CEOs, CIOs and property managers are open to meeting with you and who take a big interest in what we have to offer.

On gaining traction 
It is a work in progress. 
It has been difficult getting clients (landlords) to adopt this technology because it is a new way of doing business for them. Certain landlords are uncertain as to how the shopper will adopt to the new app, and thus are a bit skeptical at first to install the technology.

South Africans by nature are extremely risk adverse, and not open to the idea of trying something new. Together with the current economic conditions it doesn’t set the scene for an inviting platform for startups to grow. Funders/investors look for a "sure thing" when it comes to funding. There are a lot of people telling why you won’t succeed rather than why you will.

In the next 2 years we would like to have a presence nationally throughout retail centres and office parks. We also want to be up and running with cashless fuel and vending machine payments.

I wouldn’t say we are successful yet in the traditional sense of the word. There is still a lot of hard work to be done but we have a very strong team with a vast variety of skills which has allowed us to develop a top class product.

What we wished we had known starting out
Make sure the problem you are solving is a key problem that needs to be solved.
The quickest and easiest way to do this is through market validation by interviewing potential customers about their needs and frustrations. Don’t interview friends and family, they will always have a biased approach towards your product/service offering. If complete strangers validate the market, you are on to something.

You will go through so many mixed emotions when you are starting out. If you can dig yourself out of the dark times and keep humble during the good times, your business will be successful.

There are certain types of clients and industries that have unique problems that our technology solves. When we started we did not know about these unique problems and issues, and it could have saved us time in taking our product to market.

CORRECTION: This article has been amended to reflect that the Wizzpass app is still in Beta and is not yet available to the general public. 

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