Parking? Our Alumni, Maria – Zoe Papaioannou (D’15) and Theodore Sotiriou (D’16), have the solution

The best innovations are often born out of extreme frustration. The story of Parky, a web platform founded by two Deree graduates, Maria-Zoe Papaioannou, P’09, D’15 and Theodoros Sotiriou, D’16, which connects drivers with the owners of available parking spaces, is no different.

The idea of Parky came around when Maria-Zoe and Theo were attending a friend’s birthday party in downtown Athens and couldn’t find parking for 40 minutes. After this ordeal, they resolved to find a solution.

They entered the Athens Start-Up Weekend University 2016, where they could pitch their revolutionary idea. Their excellent business plan and compelling pitch enabled them to gain 1st position in the pre-finals and 3rd in the final ranking.

Their studies at Deree, not only provided them with the necessary skills to formulate a business plan, but cultivated their mindset, enabling them to reach even further. Key to their success was also their involvement with clubs at the College, such as the Debate Club, which taught them valuable skills, such as how to make an appealing pitch or to manage their time while presenting.

They also participated in the Google Online Marketing Challenge where they were Global Semifinalists, placing 8th out of 2000 teams.

From there on it was success after success. The Athens Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEin) provided them with a working space, and then they participated in the entrepreneurship competition organized by the Athens University of Economics and Business, where they won 1st place.

Next, they won the Smart City award at the E-nnovation Start-up competition. Both of the competitions had a monetary reward which proved to be a valuable asset to them, allowing them to take their idea, live.

On February 10, 2017, their site went live with 15 parking spaces. Now? They offer over 300 spaces all over Greece. They also started to offer daily bookings and the smartphone app is currently being tested in private BETA, and running smoothly. A remarkable growth and they’re aiming higher.

In April 2017, Google selected Parky for the spring batch 17 of the Launchpad Start program. After only 3 months of operations, Parky got supported by the technological giant with mentoring sessions from globally successful entrepreneurs.

As if that wasn’t enough though, in May 2017 they won the Mindspace Challenge, which included a monetary prize and a trip to the United States in November, where they visited New York and Boston to see accelerators and incubators. Their growth has also been aided by the fact that they are now residents of Google Campus London, in the United Kingdom.

In November, they were selected to exhibit Parky during Web Summit 2017 in Lisbon, a prestigious event which is globally the biggest conference for tech and startups. Everyone was there. From Google, Amazon and Facebook to Microsoft and Intel.

In December 2017, the London School of Economics (LSE) selected Parky to be among the startups that will receive monetary support and mentoring from LSE, encouraging its activity and embracing its mission to make cities better on a global scale!

Regarding their financing, their seeding round is closing very soon and they will announce their plans in the near future.

“We are augmenting our capabilities to immerse more into the city data analytics and start providing “smart cities solutions” to municipalities and government agencies in the form of B2B and/or CSR. The team is growing with additions primarily of students we met during the Stanford University Summer International Honors Program, because Deree – The American College of Greece gave us the opportunity to attend this excellent program”, said Mr. Sotiriou. It’s exactly these opportunities that Deree encourages and aims to facilitate.

In a small amount of time two friends who met at college managed to make a change for the better. Through hard work and determination, they managed to succeed under difficult circumstances and are continuously gaining more and more traction.

Key to their strong bond was their time at Deree, which for them was an experience that helped students broaden their horizons and explore their possibilities, providing them with ample chances to take advantage of.

So, what does the future hold for them? Will they park themselves or drive themselves even further? We sincerely wish them the best in their endeavors!