Parquery extracting real-time information by analysing images for smart city and smart mobility applications
Please introduce yourself and your startup Parquery to our readers!
Besides basketball and soccer, I have been very passionate about computers ever since when I was a kid in Italy. This passion has stayed as a backbone in my career both during my academic days and even more since when I let my entrepreneurial side overtake my academic side, some 3 – 4 years ago. After completing my studies at Politecnico di Milano, I did a PhD at EPFL and a PostDoc at ETH Zurich, both in Computer Vision. This led to the founding of Parquery.
Parquery is a technology spinoff from ETH Zurich. We have a mission of extracting real-time information by analysing images for smart city and smart mobility applications. We use cutting-edge computer vision and deep learning algorithm running in the cloud to process images. These images normally come from already-installed cameras, such as surveillance cameras, traffic cameras or webcams. Our first application is for smart parking, where we provide parking occupancy and duration information.
How did you get the idea to Parquery?
I was walking with Angela, the co-founder and now CTO of Parquery, outside our office at ETH. Our office is just next to the University Hospital in Zurich and in fact, the parking situation around the University Hospital is always busy with cars driving back and forth to find a parking place. We then said to ourselves “There must be a more clever way to handle all this’. And that’s when we started thinking about applying our expertise in image-based object detection to solving such an everyday problem.
How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
The start was difficult and full of obstacles but very exciting at the same time. We received a Pioneer Fellowship from the ETH and a Proof of Concept grant from the European Research Council. These two grants helped us bring the outcome of our scientific research to a marketable stage. For two academics like Angela and I, it was hard at the beginning to handle the business side of the start-up, such as figuring out a viable business model, appropriate pricing, and how to acquire customers. After that, things start to move better but nonetheless also closing our seed investment round was a quite complicated and long journey.
Overall it has been, and still is, a very interesting learning path, and with the right amount of perseverance and motivation even the obstacles that seem most insurmountable turn into feasible challenges.
Who is your target audience?
We offer our smart parking solution as a service for image analysis, mostly for B2B customers. In particular, our targets are system integrators, smart city and mobility providers, parking management companies, smart lighting companies, and even real estate companies and commercial centers. The end customers of our technology are in general parking owners including municipalities, but normally we address them indirectly via resellers or integrators.
What is the USP of your startup?
We are the only company offering a cloud-based image analysis solution for smart parking, which can work with any camera, including very basic hardware. We can use low-budget cameras to deploy a high-performance solution and the information we deliver through APIs can be easily integrated into any existing parking management platform.
Can you describe a typical workday of you?
Well, at Parquery there is no ordinary or typical workday. In particular, in the last months my colleagues and I have been travelling across and beyond Europe to present Parquery at international events and to meet very different types of customers. When I am at our office in the heart of Zurich, in general I help with daily operations, keep investor relations and try to share the load of work evenly among all our team members.
Where do you see yourself and your startup Parquery in five years?
In such a competitive domain and market, I am a very positive thinker and I hope that in five years we will have a few hundred people in our team, with offices in all the five continents and we will be a profitable company. This obviously does not mean that if we will have interesting exit opportunities we will not consider them.
What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
1. Ideas are important but execution is even more important
2. Try to build a strong team of passionate individuals who believe in the company and love their jobs and working with each other.
3. Motivation is extremely important: You need to be very motivated in what you do and try to share your motivation with your team. Be ready because many obstacles will show up on your way and without motivation they will be very hard to overcome
More information you will find here
Thank you Andrea Fossati for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.