Bingham High graduate looking to solve downtown parking issues
Jul 02, 2019 01:30PM
● By Julie Slama
Bingham High graduate Hridhay Suresh speaks to people about Parallel app, a parking app that will benefit both car owners and landowners in downtown Salt Lake City, at the recent High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
By Julie Slama|[email protected]
This summer, as many of high school graduates may be working summer jobs, recent Bingham High graduate Hridhay Suresh may be tweaking his Parallel app, a project that was recently heralded as one of the top 20 finalists in the High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.
Parallel is an easy-to-use crowdsourced parking app that will benefit both car owners and landowners in downtown Salt Lake City.
“Instead of spending time searching for parking, this will aim to increase efficiency in parking spots,” Suresh said. “I’m super excited about it.”
Suresh said that it all started when he was trying to park near City Creek Center and thought there should be an easier way than just looking.
“A lot of major cities have parking apps, but there’s nothing in the Salt Lake Valley,” he said. :I know when there are big competitions and conventions downtown, parking becomes increasingly difficult. So, in my marketing class, I began to research more and create a business plan. Then, I decided, ‘I should do this for real.’”
So, with the help of his friends, who he affectionally calls “computer nerds,” and his uncle, who is a software app developer, he learned about creating apps and was able to set up a prototype.
“I was able to put what I was learning in my marketing class in action with the 4 P’s of marketing: product, place, price and promotion,” he said.
Suresh created a business plan, knowing at first it will be hard to make a profit.
“I know that first month, it will start at a loss, as we want people to become invested in it, but in time, commuters will buy parking from businesses, and businesses will be advertising to those wanting to park,” he said. “ I believe with advertising the service, it will become profitable, especially when the app will be used during heavy traffic events.”
As a finalist, Suresh received $100, but he also had the opportunity to present his idea in front of judges as well as to the public at the spring High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge showcase, sponsored by the University of Utah Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and Zions Bank.
He used his experience as a FBLA vice president where he would role play in competitions as well as his experience in DECA, where he was to compete at the international level in Orlando, Florida, later in the spring and learned a lot about interviewing, to help him with his presentation to judges, made up of many influential community leaders.
“I gave my elevator pitch to my judges, and through it, I learned a lot about entrepreneurship and business,” he said. “I learned about collaboration, with working in others’ ideas to make mine better and what to keep in my five-minute pitch to keep people involved. I was asked five questions by the judges, which was a bit nerve-racking, but most were scenarios about what if someone had purchased a parking space, yet someone else already had parked there. They suggested using a database algorithm to determine the busiest times to help me market my product.”
At the competition award ceremony, eight students were selected from the 20 teams to receive $1,000 Lassonde Studio Scholarships at the U of U, including Suresh.
The 2019 High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge received almost 300 student business-idea submissions from high school students throughout the state.
High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge student director Kearsa Hodgson was impressed with the finalists.
“The teams this year showed exemplary drive and passion throughout all their ideas,” she said. “They identified problems in the community around them and were proactive in developing innovative solutions. It is amazing to see what students can accomplish.”