You’ve seen the yellow umbrellas all over town — outside clubs, next to restaurants, even at the base of Runyon Canyon.
There’s an app for everything these days, and it makes sense that you would be able to call up your car and cashlessly pay the valet with LA-based valet app CURBSTAND (link), which launched April 2014.
And in a short few months, CurbStand has grown from original base of 20 to over 150 in LA alone, with nearly 300 additional stands so far in Miami, Houston, Dallas, and Austin.
The ubiquity of CurbStand’s valet stands is courtesy of CEO Serge Gojkovich (GOY-ko-vich), who brought his marketing talents from Grindr, where he shepherded that app’s growth from 200,000 to 7 million users in 140 countries worldwide in under three years.
Says Gojkovich, “I’ve always been a brand builder, it’s where my passions lie.” And with Grindr (and now CurbStand), “We did really well by inserting ourselves between the consumer and where they go — bars, clubs, restaurants. We became part of the user’s daily routine.”
CurbStand wants to become an indispensable part of the user’s life by helping them do things faster and easier, such as getting to their favorite restaurant or park. And Gojkovich is applying a trademark mix of social sharing, street marketing, and advertising to help grow the company exponentially.
CurbStand was a godsend for Serge before he even started working at at the company because he never caries cash; and these days, he picks CurbStand restaurants to frequent because he doesn’t want to deal with cash.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a product that lends itself to being out on the street because it is a valet stand,” says Gojkoivch, who goes on to explain the depth of marketing support and customer service that goes into setting up new locations — the restaurants love the promotional activity (CurbStand promotes the restaurant on their socials and in real life, including by offering free parking for the first couple hours of launch), the valets love it because they get paid more easily, and the customers love it because once they download CurbStand, they are very likely to use it over & over again.
CurbStand works with the valet companies, who are often hired by restaurants & clubs to run parking services for their location. CurbStand provides the valet company with the service for free (CurbStand makes its money via transaction fees), and educates the valets on how to use CurbStand.
The sales rep and the account manager help with the onboarding process during a new site launch, and CurbStand typically hires street reps to help consumers download the app at these launches. The account manager initially walks the valets through the transactional process, street teams show consumers how to use CurbStand to ping & pay the valets.
The account manager visits the sites on a recurring basis to make sure that everything is running smoothly in their markets, and CurbStand even goes the extra mile by monitoring social media and email on a consistent basis to address any issues should anything come up. The valets also have a direct line to account managers any time, and CurbStand has contingencies in place to process payments in the event of outages, like if someone dropped a tablet.
CurbStand adds this layer of mobile / credit card payment without making it complicated for the valets, who simply use a tablet to receive notices and accept payment. And for the consumer, all they have to do is press a button in the app to bring up their car, then pay / tip the valet via the app once it arrives.
There’s always a challenge in getting a largely analog business to go digital, in this case the valet services (which are almost 100% a cash business), but says Gojkovich, “They realize we’re helping them manage their business better, look at it all, and say, ‘Okay, this makes sense.’ It’s not that big a change, but helpful in a way that makes them feel like they’ve come of age, and it impresses restaurant managers [since the valet company] adopted a new technology.”
There’s also this space-age fun to pressing a button for your car; once people use CurbStand, the product sells itself, they come back over & over to use it.
And like Grindr, CurbStand benefits greatly from its users, who are incredibly vocal about the product. “People get excited talking about it, like, ‘You have to try this out, you don’t even need cash for valet parking!’ I go to local bars in my CurbStand t-shirt and people just come up to me, raving about the service, like, ‘Oh my god you saved my life!'” [Not an exaggeration, you ever tried to park in this town? — ed.]
Another function of good branding — it makes it a bit easier to hire talent, especially as the competition for local developers heats up as larger companies move to town. Says CTO Ethan Kravitz, “As we built the brand, the level of candidates was increasing, I even interviewed one guy who says his wife couldn’t stop talking about it the other day.”
And with each market, not only does the cost of customer acquisition plummet as the service scales, but the growth in transactions is astounding. Gojkovich notes the company’s revenues are gaining traction month over month, and that a large base use CurbStand multiple times a month.
Gojkovich talked about future opportunities, including the expansion of CurbStand into enterprise management via their recent acquisition of Curby. Curby not only helps CurbStand offer a paid CRM solution for valet companies, but also brings on some great advisory talent to the company’s board. Other areas of growth include an Android app, add-on services such as car washes, features such as list view (which is live right now), and even being able to field bids amongst their partner valet companies for private event services.
Gojkovich also explained that CurbStand is evaluating their funding needs, and will be seeking a Series A in the near future, mainly to draw a couple more key hires, plus staff up in a lot more markets.