How I Started A $1.2M/Year Business With Tools Like Typeform & Zapier

$100,000
revenue/mo
2
Founders
1
Employees
product
On Air Parking
from San Francisco
started March 2016
$100,000
revenue/mo
2
Founders
1
Employees
553K
alexa rank
126
followers
408
followers
1
subs

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hey! I’m Patrick Murray. Dad of a 9 month old- husband to a wife who is ageless, and an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. I am Co-Founder and CEO of a company called NOSON, we run the popular parking deal website, onairparking.com.

We sell highly discounted airport parking reservations across the country to very price sensitive leisure and vacation travelers. We are in 27 markets, are doing about $1.2M in revenue a year and have been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

how-i-started-a-1-2m-year-business-with-tools-like-typeform-zapier

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

So I’ve always been “entrepreneurial” like I’m sure a lot of you.

In high school my buddy and I would create business plans after school, in college I started to take action and just get going on any idea I had. After school I gave myself five months, when student loan payments started, to make at least enough money to live off of and pay my minimum student loan payments. That was in 2010. The adventures I went on to make this minimum amount of money were priceless and I could fill up Pat’s whole site going over the details, but let’s look at years 2010-2013 as me “just making enough”.

If you have an idea, all you need to do is create a Typeform with Stripe integration and you can easily validate it. It’s truly that simple. Any other reason to delay testing an idea out is a fear-based excuse.

In 2013 I joined Way.com as a Co-Founder and this was the first time I helped found a company where I was going to look for investment and wanted to eventually exit, compared to “just making enough” to live off of and pay student loans. While at Way I became obsessed with parking, and particularly off-airport parking.

I left Way in 2016 to start NOSON with my at the time mentor, Brett Harwood. I decided to leave Way because my heart just wasn’t in it and my vision for the future was different than the other founders. Brett’s a former Chairman of the National Parking Association and was also President of a publicly traded parking company.

Together, with his experience and what I learned at Way, we had a lot of experience to start a company in the parking space. More importantly, though, we had the knowledge that we needed to speak to the parking operators and owners to hear their problems compared to coming up with what we think will help them.

I flew to different markets and met with owners to deeply dive into their problems. I had calls every day with other owners/ operators going over ideas I had, and getting candid advice on why those ideas would or wouldn’t work. I also kept getting deeper into their pain points.

After months of these long and candid conversations the concept of On Air Parking was born- specifically un-branded sales, our proprietary marketing, and us targeting Uber/ Lyft as our main competition.

how-i-started-a-1-2m-year-business-with-tools-like-typeform-zapier

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

I screwed this up in the beginning. I paid a third party startup, that I legally can’t mention, to build out our tech product.

This failed and took way longer than was initially quoted, like over a year compared to three months. I paid $50k for a build of the product and just got the code back which we didn’t use with a $17k refund when it was all said and done.

So picture this, I’m in SF in my apartment that is costing me $1,500+/ month to rent on my last pennies from Brett’s initial investment. I have no money to pay myself a salary for the next month. I’ve been flying around the country working on a problem to solve, but I have no product. My worst fears of what could happen to me as an entrepreneur and failing are running through my head, and failure is knocking on my door.

Luckily, I’ve been in this kind of situation before, and there’s a part of me that might sickly thrive in it. I found my hustler cup and created a website overnight to start creating some revenues.

  1. Weebly - easy website builder. $25/ month
  2. Typeform- easy to use forms. $35/ month
  3. Zapier- connect all of your favorite apps. $50/ month
  4. Google Voice- A phone number/ texting/ VOIP. Free
  5. Gmail- An email service. $5/ month.
  6. Google Sheets- An online excel. Free
  7. Google Optimize- A simple way to A/B test everything. Free
  8. Google Analytics- See what your users are doing online. Free
  9. Google Search Console-Tool to audit your SEO rankings. Free
  10. Twilio- Send text messages to your users. $10/ month
  11. Stripe- Easy credit card processing. Normal CC processing fees
  12. Sendgrid- Easily send mass amounts of e-mail. $80/ month
  13. Hotjar- Record and watch videos of your online users. $100/ month
  14. Delighted- Send automated NPS emails. $89/ month
  15. Ahrefs- SEO rank tool and analytics. $99/ month
  16. Speak to customers online, on the phone or in person- Free

I then used Zapier to make everything automated about the business and reduce the workload for me. Also to fix problems customers users were having. All of this was probably $300/ month in fees.

If you have an idea, all you need to do is create a Typeform with Stripe integration and you can easily validate it. It’s truly that simple. Any other reason to delay testing an idea out is a fear-based excuse.

Describe the process of launching the business.

From our MVP (mentioned above), it was very easy to start to build out our On Air Parking product.

I would simply take Traveler Care Team calls and get as much feedback as possible and make changes. I would then always be A/B testing. With enough testing we’d have results. All of this went into our MVP so that we could come up with a product built off of knowledge and data.

Brett put in $200k in two payments to get the business off the ground. One payment in the first year to get everything going and the second to help with growth.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We use some proprietary marketing technology that I can’t get into but I will say getting our users to engage with Facebook is huge.

We offer a coupon code for users that like our Facebook page and message us, and it’s been great to get a community on our page. It sounds cheesy, but it’s also so damn true, the REAL reason people come back is that we give them a great experience though.

We are very picky in who we partner with and try to make the process so simple to book. Because of this, and our OCD approach to the product and simplicity, we get people coming back.

For marketing, I will mention this. For all of my previous companies, it has taken a different channel to find the best customer acquisition costs and marketing. Try to put together a package or offer that you know someone would want to buy and test out all possible channels with constant tweaking.

Then when you start to get results, start to work on ways to find the most efficient form. I think certain entrepreneurs get stuck because they didn’t test out all channels, or settled on one that worked, but they may have missed a more lucrative one (i.e- a website that is ranked with SEO compared to selling on Amazon or Ebay).

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

If you’re at a stage where you’ve had a lot of ideas but you haven’t started trying to make money from this, you need to. When I was in college and finally took the plunge and looked to start generating income with my ideas, life changed.

For those out there that are making some money, the famous quote from Bill Gates is so true. “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

I’ve found that when looking to eventually exit a company or become profitable enough to have substantial returns for shareholders, thinking changes. It’s ok to look out 10 years and spend a lot of time on one project.

Start small and like a crazy person trying to solve one problem. If you keep focusing in on the one thing you want to solve or sell well and keep making changes to the UX flow and prices and keep testing, it will be so much easier when you expand. Note though- you need users coming onto your site, or people buying. This comes AFTER you are seeing users/ revenue.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

I love HotJar to view what people are actually doing on our site.

Zapier and Typeform were lifesavers for the MVP.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Business Books

Meditating also helps give me the clarity and control of my mind to function.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Go to Typeform.com right now and find a way to get your business started today and moving!

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

I’m going to be hosting a Podcast for HackerNoon and would love to hire on a producer with experience basically pre-screening. Will rev-share.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

-  
Patrick Murray,   Founder of On Air Parking

Want to start your own business?

Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.

We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help others get started.

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Pat Walls,   Founder of Starter Story

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