Nick Miller - Co-founder and CEO of Parking Panda

[quote]Honestly bringing your idea to life is just hard work and commitment. To turn an idea into an actual business isn’t easy. It’s a struggle and a grind, but definitely worth it for the return.[/quote]

Nick Miller is the Co-founder and CEO of Parking Panda. He drives the company’s strategy, vision and growth. He is passionate about using technology to solve big, everyday problems and hates trying to park his car. He got his start as a product management intern at LivingSocial while the company grew from 15 to over 300 employees. He then moved to New York and has been working in product and community strategy at New York City startups Crowdtap and Group Commerce. Miller graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown Univerisyt with a BA in Government and Sociology.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I’m working on Parking Panda. Parking Panda is an online marketplace for parking. In many ways, we combine Airbnb and Priceline for parking. It enables parking space owners (both individuals and commercial lots) to capitalize on their underutilized parking spaces by renting them out to the community of drivers. People in need of parking can save money and time by finding a place to park and paying right from their mobile phone or reserving a space in advance on the web.

Where did the idea for Parking Panda come from?

The idea for Parking Panda really came from personal experience. I went to Georgetown, and while I was living in D.C., I had a great parking space, in an ideal neighborhood, but I didn’t have a car, so it was wasted most of the time. Then I’d drive up to Raven”s football games and see people standing outside with cardboard signs renting their driveways. Having experienced both sides of the problem, something just clicked, and I realized there had to be a more efficient way of solving this problem. Of course, Parking Panda has evolved since then, but I think the best ideas always come from personal experience with a problem.

What does your typical day look like?

One of the great things about being the founder of a startup is that I don’t really have a typical day. Sometimes I spend my days on the road raising money, others I’m heads-down in analytics and still others I’m 100% focused on something like BD (business development) or HR. I get to wear a lot of different hats and have my hands in everything.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Honestly bringing your idea to life is just hard work and commitment. To turn an idea into an actual business isn’t easy. It’s a struggle and a grind, but definitely worth it for the return.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The growth of collaborative consumption is really exciting for me. First, it is a movement that Parking Panda is a part of. More importantly, though, I love the idea of people using already-existing resources more efficiently, rather than continuing to build and add new things that people don’t really need.

What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?

I’ve been pretty lucky to have some great jobs during my career. I did, however, spend some time consulting for the US government, and the biggest thing I realized is the value of being agile in development and decision-making. I would often spend an entire week simply waiting for the right signatures and approvals; very little would get done. Watching an organization operate like this compared to the speed and quick decision-making of a startup was enlightening.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

If I were to start again, I’m not sure I’d do anything differently. The whole process has been a great learning experience. Now that I’ve learned from the decisions I’ve made, I’m sure I could do things more efficiently, but I’m happy with how things have gone.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Listen to your customer. We do extensive user testing on new features, designs, even just ideas to really learn from our customer and have a good understanding of how we should develop our product to best serve our customer base.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

To pick out a single problem as an entrepreneur is almost impossible. We run into problems every day. The biggest things are a combination of dedication to finding a solution and surrounding yourself with the right people to help you.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

It won’t make you rich, but I always wanted to build a giant game of Mario Brothers on top of New York City for when I was running or biking around the city. For example, I run over the Brooklyn Bridge, so I’d get a fire flower. And if I run X miles in a month, then I could rescue Peach. Obviously, I haven’t dedicated too much time to all the game play logic, but I really just think it would bring a little nerdy excitement to my workout.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

That’s a pretty impossible question to answer. I’d love to see equality across all races/genders/sexualities/etc., but how to actually do that is not an easy thing to answer.

Tell us a secret.

We actually had to buy www.parkingpanda.com from another owner; it wasn’t already available.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources, and what do you love about them?

1.  Pivotal Tracker – It makes scheduling the development lifecycle and staying on track with our product development simple and easy.

2.  Pingdom – There is nothing like being alerted that your website or server is down in about five different ways in the middle of the night.

3.  Evernote – It’s the easiest way to keep track of notes and ideas from every different device you own.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Venture Deals by Brad Feld. Even if you already know a lot about the ins and outs of a venture deal, this book really puts it in clear terms and gives you a full and thorough understanding of everything. You’ll be as or more prepared as your venture capitalists and your lawyers.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

1.  Steve Case – A great mix of articles and updates on both government and entrepreneurship.

2.  Evgeny Morozov – A really interesting mix of articles on how the internet is used for revolution and social control. The articles will give you a different perspective on the same technology we use every day.

3.  The Atlantic – Still some of the most well-written articles you’ll find in the news.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

About an hour ago; everyone in our office was watching the recent “Gangnam Style” SNL skit with Seth McFarlane.

Who is your hero?

Elon Musk. He envisions and builds companies that solve problems measured not over the course of years, but over decades.

Connect:

Nick Miller on Linkedin:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/NickWMiller
Nick Miller on Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/NickWMiller
Parking Panda’s Website:  www.parkingpanda.com
Nick Miller’s Email:  [email protected]