By Kate Toporski, CFE Content Development Intern
We’ve all seen the chaos of gameday– a sea of maize shirts, tailgates lining the streets, and the sound of “Hail to the Victors” echoing throughout campus.
But before the the chip dip is broken into or the thrill of walking into the Big House sets in, you have to find a parking spot.
Navigating the narrow streets of Ann Arbor, packed with students and overflowing pregame parties can be a hassle, even a horror. And no doubt, this weekend’s game will be the same, especially considering the added alumni bodies for this year’s Homecoming festivities.
But parking doesn’t have to be a hassle this Saturday, thanks to School of Information Alumni ‘16- Josh Blumberg- and his startup- Spotted. CFE had a chance to sit down with Blumberg last month to talk about how he’s tackling Ann Arbor’s gameday parking problem.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Josh Blumberg: I graduated from U of M in May of last year from the School of Information. I’m currently working for athenahealth in Boston as a UX Designer. From 8:30am-5:30pm I’m a designer, but the rest of my free time is spent working on my startup, Spotted.
Q: What got you into entrepreneurship?
JB: While I was at Michigan, I took a class called ENTR 411– Entrepreneurship Practicum- through the CFE. And that’s where Spotted came to life. The practicum class challenged students to solve a real-world problem; parking on gameday was an obvious choice. The chaos is unbearable, and the whole parking situation can be stressful. So, our group of four (myself, Brandon Wong, Madeline Choné, and Emma Gardiner) went after it- and that’s how Spotted came to be. After 411, I continued to work on Spotted as part of my UX Senior Design project. This lead to improving our interface and even launching last month!
Q: Give a brief overview: what is Spotted?
JB: Spotted is the AirBnB for parking. On our website, you can easily post your parking spot or make a parking reservation. Reservations can be made the night before, or even a couple weeks in advance. This way, you aren’t scrambling to find a spot while missing out on the tailgate. After watching the chaos of gameday, it was easy to pick a problem to solve in ENTR 411. Now, students and fans can easily collaborate to 1) make money on parking and 2) avoid the hassle of driving all over in search of a spot.
Q: Where is Spotted now? How has it changed since graduating?
JB: We built Spotted from the ground up. The development, time frames, and now marketing are all fresh and new. Since the launch of our website, we’ve really been focusing on marketing– reaching the right audience, creating an appearance of approachability and simplicity for parking and our startup. In November, we are launching for more than just gameday parking. Our focus now is just executing. The proof of startup success is really in the execution– great ideas are nothing without results. Having an idea about fixing chaotic parking won’t change the world, but doing something about it will.
Q: Do you have any advice for current student entrepreneurs?
JB: Be willing to put some skin in the game. Startups take lots of time and lots of effort. You never understand how well your venture will do, so go all in. Recognize that there is a lot of work ahead, and dedicate yourself to it!
Josh’s dedication, as well as Spotted’s success is real and exciting. If you’re ready to dodge the chaos of parking on Saturday’s Homecoming Game, check out the Spotted website to reserve your parking spot today!
Interested in solving real-world problem? Want to get your startup off the ground? Check out CFE’s class offerings, and join us next semester.