LocoMobi Co-Founder Barney Pell discusses AI, Johnny Depp and the line between science fiction and reality

Can Artificial Intelligence suppress human intelligence?  How soon can we expect to be overshadowed by our machine counterparts? Where do we draw the line between science fiction and reality?

AND the big question – Can we upload Johnny Depp to our PC’s in the near future?!

LocoMobi’s Co-Founder Barney Pell knows parking, but he is no one trick pony! Barney is a pioneer of general game-playing programs in artificial intelligence (AI), founder of the Powerset AI-based search engine, and once an autonomous robotics researcher and manager at NASA.

Join Barney Pell as he shares his thoughts on this fascinating subject matter! (click links below).

Transcending Artificial Intelligence: Part 1

Transcending Artificial Intelligence: Part 2

Team Mate Tuesday With Eric Cavazos

We cornered Eric Cavazos, a Front-End Software Engineer who gave us a bit of a behind-the-scenes look into his experience with LocoMobi Inc.

 

So tell us a bit about what you do at LocoMobi

I’m a Front-End Software Engineer. So a lot of my work tends to be on the web portals and the interactions that our operators and clients have with our software.

 

Are you a Front-End Software Engineer for both Toronto and California, or just in California?

Both Toronto and California. I developed the UI and functionality for projects in QuickPay and work to improve these constantly as new features are added.

 

If you weren’t working for LocoMobi, what do you think you’d be doing right now?

Probably doing the same things, software development and product management. I enjoy the planning, development, and improving software products. Irina [Zusmanov] and I talk about this a lot. New possible features we can develop, then I typically work with members of our back-end engineers so we can put the database and API needs in place for the front-end.

 

How would you describe LocoMobi?

Locomobi is on the edge of a market that is just starting to really utilize technology to enhance not only the way parking and transportation is managed, but also how customers interact with transportation. It is an exciting place to be with a lot of opportunities to enhance this part of our daily life.

 

What’s working in the California branch like compared to the offices in Toronto?

We focus more on the product development from the standpoint of engineering – we work literally side by side – we don’t get to see a lot of the glamorous marketing and tech center projects that the Toronto branch has because we’re more focused on the software development.

 

Have you always been a part of the parking community?

It actually fell into my lap. What I thought was really neat was that there are a lot of industries out there that aren’t yet touched by technology like transportation or construction. There are so many adaptations that could happen in the future for the role technology plays to make a job more effective or to change the way people live.

 

What’s the best part about working for LocoMobi?

It comes back to the impact of technology for me, how we’re affecting an industry that’s never really used technology. I mean, sometimes it feels like explaining technology to your grandparents, but it’s fun because you know how much it’s going to help their lives even if they themselves don’t know it yet. I think the best part is when they realize that what we’re doing is helping them. For example, we did built a web portal for our clients and operators because they would often have to go to their finance people to get reports for their locations. But now they can generate several financial reports for themselves. So for me that was one of the coolest things – when clients and operators suddenly realized that technology made life easier for them because now they can generate all these reports and have real-time data.

 

Thanks for your time Eric, and for all you loyal Conversationists we’ll have more for you soon!

A Week In Rewind: LocoMobi Goes Green For St. Patrick’s Day

This week at LocoMobi we celebrated a day of green! St. Patrick’s Day was this past Tuesday and many members of the LocoMobi team came out in their shamrock best to partake in the Irish festivities. This included some of the newest team members, Avijit Bandyopadhyay, Jefferson To and Cathy-Ann Shim, our new Senior Programmer, Junior Drupal/ Website Developer, and Senior Accountant, respectively.

The team may have dressed in green to celebrate St. Patty’s Day but at LocoMobi we are proud to say we are green everyday! All of our products and processes are about being sustainable any way we can.

Our QP QuickPay app allows users paperless parking by making payments directly from their phones. By paying through the app their parking can be confirmed by parking enforcement through their license plate. LocoMobi’s License Plate Recognition (LPR) software also ensures a hassle-free, paperless option to gated lots! Again, by simply entering their license plate number into the pay station the smart system will provide an accurate length of stay. The cameras capture the plate upon entry so that when the parker leaves the lot there are no discrepancies over the amount owing! The system then processes the payment of the plate number in question so that when the car leaves the lot the cameras capture it again and understand that the plate has no remaining balance. The gate then instantly lifts allowing the parker to leave without ever having to worry about losing a ticket. LocoMobi also offers all of their payment machines with a solar power option!

We hope you all enjoyed being Irish for a day, and challenge you to stay green the rest of the year too!

Until next time, this is the Conversation signing out!

What Makes LocoMobi Inc. Such A Successful Startup

We sat down with Grant Furlane, co-founder and CEO of LocoMobi Inc. to ask him a few questions about his vision for LocoMobi and what is it that makes it such a successful start-up. Here’s what he had to say.

So Grant, why parking?

When I started developing [the cloud] and how this cloud would interact with everything in the world I said what’s my specialty? Transportation and parking. So why don’t I focus on what I know first since I already have the contacts, I understand the business and I have the experience.

People reading this might not know you have a background in parking, could you give a quick background on what you did before?

I’ve been in the parking & transportation industry since about 1980. I’ve seen every technology evolve that there is and I brought a lot of it to the industry first. Along the way I’ve seen companies struggle with technology. I represented technology companies and what I saw was that in all this time no one has yet provided something that can truly manage the infrastructure of parking. I was one of the founding members of the Canadian Parking Association and I was co-founder of the first World Symposium of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), which is now one of the biggest organizations of transportation. I’ve always been in all the different investment areas and 5 years ago I said “Okay, if they can develop the right technology then we could truly change the world of transportation.”

So that goes into the idea of having a fully integrated parking solution?

Well first of all it was never  been about having a fully integrated parking solution and that’s what many still, quite honestly do not understand. It is to have a fully automated transportation, urban and rural system that is fully integrated with the ecosystem. Parking is the first piece. Obviously nobody had this when I started this process; no one had a cloud, no one had all the functionality of what clouds does anywhere and very few have integrated it all in transportation. The idea was that it was only the first piece. We’re now doing tolling and we’re going to do transit and then when you have all three you are truly a smart city application. It’s not about parking, its about  parking needs to be part of something bigger and we’re providing that.

What are some factors that have made LocoMobi a successful start up?

Start ups are really difficult, they really are and people confuse the word entrepreneur with small business owner. Most people fail as an entrepreneur because they’re not an entrepreneur. They think because they ran a four or five company business successfully that that’s entrepreneurship. It’s not in its truest form. That just means you are a good small businessperson(and that is a great strength as well). An entrepreneur has to go out there and think of all the risks and all the different things associated with doing that. For example, a person works for  a million dollar company if the president doesn’t own it, didn’t put the money in, didn’t build it; he’s not an entrepreneur. He’s just a good operator  That’s not what entrepreneur’s do.

You have to take an idea and you cannot give up. Most entrepreneurs who are successful don’t give up. Henry Ford didn’t give up, Bill Gates didn’t give up, and the list goes on. You can never can give up and when people are telling you no, it’s yes. You have to live with the ups and downs and you also have to work with customers who will partner with your vision. If you don’t it fails and we’ve been fortunate to have that great partnership .

Most entrepreneurs only fail because they didn’t know how close they were to success. People think money makes it, but no, the idea makes it; the money takes care of itself. They’re all running around for all the wrong reasons. You’ve got to believe in the vision and sell the vision; the rest takes care of itself if it’s truly good.

When you’re trying to hire people for startups what are the type of people that you look for?

In my view it’s not magic, I talk to them. I don’t just look at the degree and resume, I talk to them. We took a risky route. I decided to hire young people who have open minds. When you go into technology that changes daily your mind has to be uninfected, very open and that’s very difficult. I’m lucky my mind is still open, I don’t know why, but I’m always one to learn. Barney [Pell] has an open mind as well, I have a great partner in him. He is probably the best learner out there as well as a great teacher. What you have to be careful with is hiring people that are experienced enough to have a mind, but inexperienced enough to not develop the bad habits – so they can grasp only one vision. [At LocoMobi] we have all mini entrepreneurs and that’s what I want. I want everyone that takes a stake and wants to be successful. Even to the point that if they left I’d probably invest in them. Once you get good at your craft, you may go out and find senior people that can come in and manage projects. These need more experienced management processes that younger people have not yet learned. Those people become your mentors.

Thank you very much for your time Grant!

Until next time, this is the conversation, signing out!

Boston Mayor Says No to Space Savers!

In case you didn’t know, there is a bit of an unofficial tradition that happens in Boston (and many other American cities) every winter. With each heavy snow fall residents shovel parking spots outside their homes in order to keep a spot clear for themselves.

Fought A Bear For This Spot...Well, this year, Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston says no to space savers. He has implemented a ban on placing items on cleared spots preventing the shovellers from saving them. Bostonians have come up with some pretty interesting revenge tactics for people who take spots that aren’t theirs!

The Mayor asks that instead, residents respect each other’s spots and to be patient while the city works to get the snow cleared as quickly as possible.

Here at LocoMobi, we know that parking can cause a lot of stress no matter what time of year; whether it’s finding a space or finding enough change to pay at the meter.

QuickPay is LocoMobi’s mobile parking payment app! By using the app parkers can pay by for parking straight from their mobile device. Payment can be made at the parkers’ convenience, from their office or the warmth of the car.  Even extend parking time straight from your phone so no more having to run back to feed the meter!

We know there are lots of stresses involved in parking- especially space saving, QuickPay is a start to helping make the parking a hassle free experience.

LocoMobi At Springdale Medical Centre

Springdale Medical Centre

Obtaining LocoMobi’s first management location was an exciting addition to our system, and an attest to what LocoMobi parking solutions could really offer. Springdale Medical Centre was having a problem keeping their parking lot available for staff and clients due to the fact that it is directly across from the Brampton Civic Hospital. Hospital visitors were taking advantage of the nearby free parking, and filling it to the point that there was no room left for the business that owned it!

The solution seemed simple: enforce paid parking and provide the Springdale tenants with a validation system for their patients or clients. But changing a free parking lot to enforced paid parking was never going to be an easy task.

Initially LocoMobi installed LPR cameras and gated entries with a free entrance and a paid exit. The LPR cameras ensured that the logged duration spent in the parking lot was extremely accurate, so no one overpaid for parking. After seeing this system in action LocoMobi decided Springdale required a more streamlined solution. Now clients will be able to choose their duration time and pay upfront before exiting the lot, effectively removing any congestion and preventing line ups from occurring upon leaving the lot!

Springdale Medical Building has taken a little more time and planning than initially anticipated, but it has done nothing but demonstrate the true flexibility of LocoMobi’s solution and the way it can be easily implemented into any situation.

We spoke with Kristen Furlane, Operations Manager for LocoMobi and one of the team members who are overseeing the transition of the system at Springdale, to see what she had to say about the new changes.

So Kristen, LocoMobi has made a few changes at Springdale, what were the common issues you saw with the initial system integration?

I’d say the biggest hurdle we faced was explaining that the system did not require the use of tickets and that payment was calculated from a photo taken of your license plate or entering the digits of your license plate into one of the payment meters. This is still a very new concept that people are adapting to so we were on site every week helping tenants of the building with any questions or concerns they had for us. Having to deal face to face with customers allowed us to enhance our system because we saw the daily operations of the lot. This helped us better understand the customers of the lot, which helped us give them a fully customized system that fit their needs.

How will the new changes make parking even easier for the clients of Springdale?

The new system is very simple, now being switched to a Prepaid Parking solution. Parkers will drive into the lot, similar to our parking system at Cinema Towers in Toronto, and will pay on foot before going into the building. Also, by changing the system over to prepaid parking will be a great opportunity to offer our QuickPay app on another lot. This will give parkers an extra payment option creating an even more streamlined experience. For example, if a parker is stuck in an appointment longer than they anticipated they will now have the option to add time to their parking from the convenience of their cell phone, not having to go find a machine to pay at before their time expires.

Why do you think LocoMobi is still the best solution for this location?

Unlike other companies LocoMobi is able to provide a full streamlined solution. No one else has a system like ours; we are not only the parking equipment manufacturer, but also the parking management company. We are pioneers in our industry and always striving to provide the best parking experience for our clients and customers. Readapting our system is a much easier task than that of a company who offers a conventional parking system because our whole system is cloud based. This allows us to continuously add and change features to the system to fit each of our clients.

So there you have it! With the help of LocoMobi, Springdale Medical Centre will be able to ensure their clients have parking whenever they need to visit.

Team-Mate Tuesday With Paul Yakutchik

Since we left our last Team Mate Tuesday with Paul Chapotet we thought we’d feature another Paul. Paul Yakutchik, one of the founding members of LocoMobi and our VP of Engineering at the Toronto office located in Liberty Village.

We sat down to interview Paul and this is what he had to say;

So Paul, LocoMobi is still such a new company what was intriguing about the project of a startup that made you jump on board?

I have known Grant for almost 20 years and have had opportunity to work with him a number of times over those years.  Any project that Grant worked on was exciting and challenging and this project had all of the ingredients for being greater than anything I’ve ever had the opportunity to be part of.  The marriage of experience and cutting edge technology meant that I’d be able to apply my personal history with the challenges I loved to build total cloud solutions.

Have you always been a part of the parking industry?

I started my career working for a consulting firm specializing in technology.  Very quickly that evolved into everything and everything related to cars.  Initially that was writing ITS (intelligent transportation systems) applications, to award winning airport vehicle tracking systems, to prototyping AVI standards for the federal MoT and NAFTA, and spending over 20 years designing and working with parking systems.

Technology can seem a little overwhelming to the average reader, what can you tell us –in English- is so technologically innovative about LocoMobi?

LocoMobi is taking all of its combined years of experience and through cutting edge cloud technologies is able to bring all of the parking components together in a single solution.  We have hardware such as gates and payment kiosks that communicate in real-time with license plate cameras and software based web applications, handheld apps and rate engines that mean our customers have information available to them as quickly as needed to manage their operations.

What is your favourite part about working at LocoMobi?

The team is amazing.  I have never worked with such a good group of people that are driven every day in sharing a single vision of bringing the best solution for all customers, large and small alike.

We’ve won a lot of awards and gotten to see a lot of cities, what was your best memory from one of your business travels?

When LocoMobi was formed I had the opportunity to travel to our California office to meet the staff and get an understanding of the technologies that were applied in our mobile products.  We have quite a depth of knowledge and it was immensely reassuring to see that the vision was shared and time has proven this over and over again.  We’ve now added offices and formed partnerships around the world and continue to embrace strengths in our global team.

Thanks Paul for taking the time to answer all our questions!

Until next time, stay tuned for more updates from your favourite parking company!

 

Paul

Week(s) In Review!

The only thing scarier than crazy parking prices? Our office this year =)

Okay, so not really. However, it’s great to see everyone in the festive spirit, and there’s definitely a lot to celebrate this past month!

LocoMobi Company Mixer: Grant, Mark, Shane and Alan

First off, at the end of September our LocoMobi team had our very first company mixer to celebrate all the hard work, over the past few months. Our team all got together at our CEO Grant Furlane’s house, fully equipped with a swimming pool, bar service, live band, and dancing, it was a fantastic night!

Even better, our teammates from our California office even made it to the event! And they left us a little gift: our newest addition to the Toronto Office, Paul Chapotet! More on him in the next Team-Mate Tuesday!

More exciting news this month was our opening of our new technology centre, right here in Liberty Village! This new location will be the central hub of our newest parking innovations, and will be used to house, test and display our products.

The fun didn’t stop there! Just last week, the LocoMobi team made a show-stopping appearance at the National Parking Association Trade-show in Las Vegas! We showcased a few of our products including; QuickPay, our Licence Plate Recognition software, as well as our new parking guidance system!

NPA 2014, Las Vegas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all for the month of October! Hope to chat with you guys again soon in The Conversation!

Big news from Nantong, China!

The TiE50 startup award was a huge deal to us, but parking in one spot forever doesn’t move us forward. That wasn’t enough for us. As a startup and a parking solutions company, we think big and we think of the future. That’s why we’re so excited to announce that we just won 2nd place in the “Smart Building” International Startup Competition in Nantong, China!

Over the past few months, LocoMobi has been hard at work preparing pitches, overviews, and technologies for this competition. With “hard work and vision”, our  Co-founders Grant Furlane and Barney Pell along with Head of Manufacturing Tony Shi delivered a phenomenal performance; we were the only North American representatives to reach the finals, driving LocoMobi to new international levels!

LocoMobi is now in the works to open up a new office in China to work with Nantong and develop parking infrastructure for the ENTIRE city. Leading the parking operations for the very first “smart city” in Nantong is going to be an amazing experience, and we’ll make sure to let you know all about it!

We’ll have a press release up soon where you can read more about the competition!

Meet Mark

If he isn’t hitting the roads, he’s hitting the phones – this week we sat down with Mark to get a quick Q&A about his role in LocoMobi.

Tell me about who you are – who is Mark Johnson?

I’m a passionate, motivated, gogogo, organic-fed beauty. I’m a selfless saint, a baby kisser, and an honest man with a charismatic, positive outlook on life.

And what does Mark Johnson do at LocoMobi?

I’m the national sales manager. I retain current clients, drive new business, act on opportunities, and grow our company. I wear a watch, but not really because PARKING NEVER SLEEPS.

…okay. What did you do before coming to LocoMobi?

I got around; I’ve always been in the parking industry with companies like Precise Parking, Vinci Parking, and ParkSmart.

Wow, after working with so many other parking companies, why choose LocoMobi?

I saw an opportunity here. I knew there would be tools here I could use to develop my management capabilities. The Board of Directors and Grant, our CEO, are all insanely knowledgeable about the industry. They have decades of experience that I have access to whenever I need, and I’m learning every day.

Awesome! So after being here for a few months, what would you say is unique about LocoMobi in terms of our competitors?

So much. We manufacture our own equipment and there are no restrictions. We change software and equipment on the go; we can tailor our solutions to provide the unique answers to our client’s unique questions. We provide everything under the same roof, and we chase every opportunity – we’ll never say no. There is no problem too big or too small. Nothing is too difficult or impossible for LocoMobi. We are the gods of parking because we’ve got everything.

How about the environment and people you work with?

Our team is amazing. We have the passion, the motivation, and the energy. I work with a unique team that brings different skills to the table along with creative ideas that we are free to express and pursue. We’re all in sync, we’re all entrepreneurial, we’re all about growth and we’re always working towards that. We get each other, and we get the fact that input equals output in a company like LocoMobi.

photo 3

Stay tuned for another Team-Mate Tuesday and more updates in The Conversation!