Patrick Mwangi and Samuel Githae were on their normal weekend rounds in the busy streets of Nairobi in 2017 looking for a place to have a good time with friends, being in their last year at the university with time on their hands.
On reaching their destination, it proved difficult for them to get an empty parking slot, which made them change their plans and decide to drive back to campus.
Samuel was studying for a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Dedan Kimathi University while Patrick was studying for a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering at the Technical University of Kenya.
So the two decided to put their heads together and come up with a way of using technology to help solve the parking problem.
“In Nairobi there is a big problem of parking in town; it is affecting a lot of people. And for us, when we decided to go out with friends, it was one of those busy Fridays in Nairobi. We looked for parking for almost two hours,” says Mr Mwangi.
With Samuel’s background in computer science and Patrick’s quick wit, they both embarked on a journey to draft a plan on how they could solve the parking problem.
The whole project was also to involve how they could make sure that parking was not just available to able-bodied motorists but also to those with disability.
After graduating from university the same year they rented an office in the city centre and rolled up their sleeves to turn their idea into reality.
“With my background in computer science, I handled most of the technical matters like programming and developing the app, among others. It took us several months but we knew we were doing something that a lot of people would be grateful for,” says Mr Githae.
Today, Parking Finder is an app that helps motorists find and reserve parking spaces before reaching their destinations.
They mostly work with privately-owned parking areas who get into partnership with them. They say they are still in talks to get Nairobi City County on board.
So far, since launching in November 2018 they have more than 25 private parking establishment that have registered with Parking Finder.
Roughly, it cost the two entrepreneurs Sh1.2 million and with only a few months in the market they are optimistic that they will break even soon due to the positive response they have been getting.
Private investors with parking space can also register with them through their app to make them easily accessible to motorists.
From every transaction done by a car owner through the app the two partners get a percentage. The amount may vary depending on a number of factors.
For example, if a parking space does not meet their requirements, which include ample security including CCTV cameras, this means that they will have to install the gadgets themselves.
This then translates to them getting 25 percent from the total amount paid by a motorist. However, if the parking space already has all the necessary security features then they only take eight percent.
“What is paramount is to make sure that all the parking areas signing up with our app have maximum security. We have private parking space owners registering with us,” says Mr Githae.