March 20, 2015 – Toronto, Canada
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 .
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!