New parking app wins investment prize at Baton Rouge pitch competition
An app that uses crowdsourcing and artificial intelligence to help people find parking spots won the High-Stakes Pitch Competition during Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week, or BREW.
ParkZen, co-founded by LSU Assistant Professor Manos Chatzopoulos, financier and CFO George Triarchou and LSU computer science junior Haron Temam, took home the $100,000 investment award from Innovation Catalyst, a Baton Rouge-based nonprofit that invests in local entrepreneurs, and its subsidiary, the Red Stick Angel Network.
In this popular annual competition, a handful of innovative local startups pitch their business and potential for growth to a panel of judges, which decides the company that’s most deserving of the investment prize.
The ParkZen app uses smart crowdsourcing to track and connect users with available parking — right down to the spot — in their vicinity. The company markets to organizations with heavy traffic and parking needs, like college campuses and shopping malls.
CEO and co-founder Chatzopoulos said he plans to use the investment prize to build out a sales team and improve customer support. The team plans to land 50 enterprise clients by the end of year three and 200 such clients by the end of year five.
Businesses can purchase the solution to provide an enhanced parking experience to students and customers. The app also gathers data that organizations can use to assess and prioritize their parking needs. It relies on an innovative application programming interface to integrate with relevant apps that already have a large user base.
Chatzopoulos and the ParkZen team are piloting the program on LSU’s campus and have received interest from large private organizations. The team plans to target colleges and universities first. “I can’t wait to hit the road running and get this to every single campus in the southern United States,” Chatzopoulos said.
BREW’s High-Stakes Pitch Competition event awards an investment prize to one promising local startup in Louisiana. The investment prize, managed by Red Stick Angels, comes from a group of Louisiana-based investors. BREW is hosted each year by Nexus Louisiana, an organization dedicated to growing and developing the Louisiana technology industry. Nexus LA’s mission is to accelerate the growth of high-potential technology-enabled companies by providing them with coaching, capital and connections.
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