Friday 26 June, 2015: the hottest day of the year. It’s 12.55pm, and JustPark has just been named the winner of Richard Branson’s startup competition. A marketing spend of £250,000 is ours to play with, to bring the good news about pain-free parking to drivers far and wide. There are no nails left on any fingers at JPHQ. Our voices are hoarse from bellows of joy and the sweaty palms have turned into sweaty hugs.
Rewind two hours: arguably the world’s best-known entrepreneur, Richard Branson, is perched on a shiny red stool in London’s hyper-trendy coworking space, Second Home. Flanking him are perfume magnate Jo Malone, model and investor David Gandy, Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts, Virgin Media Business MD Peter Kelly and Jon Oringer, founder of Shutterstock.
And Anthony Eskinazi, founder of JustPark, is about to pitch to them. He has two and a half minutes to explain to this bunch of intimidatingly successful people on the judging panel how JustPark is solving a global problem, and that we deserve the top prize of £250,000 in expertly-executed marketing campaigns. No pressure then.
Out of 5,000 startups who entered Pitch to Rich, we had made it to the top three. We had fought our way through two gruelling rounds of public voting to get to the final. Again, an enormous THANKS to everyone who voted for us – we couldn’t have done this without you.
On the stage in the ‘Grow’ category, we were up against stiff competition from the people at Aduna – who are on a mission to create demand for under-utilised natural products from small producers in rural Africa – and Approved Food, a company with a vendetta against food going needlessly to waste thanks to best-before dates. It’s been an honour to be in the same league as such incredible game-changers, and we wish them the very best of luck with their businesses.
First prize is £250,000 in marketing spend at the hands of Virgin, a global behemoth of a brand. But the bounty doesn’t stop there. One of things that makes this opportunity so exciting is that Virgin is a main player in the travel and transport industry, and with airport parking and train station parking being key areas for JustPark, this new relationship will open many doors beyond pure money.
So what now? Now… we go #VOOM. The next step is for us to meet the experts at Virgin Media Business and hatch a plan for spreading the word about JustPark to drivers in need, which is obviously top top secret. However, we can reveal to you now that in the near future, an actual train from the fleet of Virgin Trains will be wrapped with the JustPark logo. (And maybe Anthony’s face too, though this is a matter of fierce internal debate.)
The past few weeks have been a blast! Meeting Branson and co. and winning Pitch to Rich is a real privilege in itself. Beyond that, though, this will have a serious impact on the speed at which we can help transform a billion-dollar industry and eradicate a global woe that affects millions of people on a daily basis. Buckle up, folks. Parking is going places.