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For Operators, by Former Operators: The Ocra Origin Story

Before we were Ocra, we were parking operators.

Our founders started their parking hustle as Park Place in 2019 by parking cars around the Los Angeles Coliseum, capturing demand from the stadium’s many events.
Parking cars outside of the LA Coliseum
Initially the team attempted to build a marketplace similar to the various payment aggregators in the industry today – however, it quickly became apparent that competing with the large online channels to drive consumer demand was not our future.

Unwilling to give up, and hungry to identify an opportunity, we began interviewing homeowners and commercial lot operators and walking the streets daily to volunteer and help sell parking.
Partnering with residents around the LA Coliseum to sell their spots
During this crucial time of sleeping on a futon and fueling on instant ramen, the company discovered the opportunity to arbitrage parking spots as day-lease operators in the area.

As an event parking operator, our eyes opened immensely.

We experienced firsthand the challenges of staffing attendants, setting rates, managing inventory and preventing slippage, plus all of the other intricacies that operators deal with.

Early success: Introducing online seller channels

One solution that we found to help drive revenue and optimize yield was to utilize online seller channels. When we started selling online we realized that we could double our revenue while mitigating the risk of arbitrage – because online seller channels represent a predictable revenue stream.

But then we started to see too much success with online seller channels, and the issues around managing multiple channels quickly became glaringly obvious.

We were overselling inventory and unable to quickly reconcile reports, which prevented us from increasing rates and our margins.

And only a couple of us were trained on the different channels and the capabilities of each, and we had to divide and conquer just to try to manage tasks.

This was a huge operational efficiency problem that cost us a significant amount of capital and time.Park Place signage indicating a parking spot

Pivoting & growing during COVID-19

We recognized as we were looking to scale the operation that we needed reliable software to prevent slippage and misuse and save hours we would have to spend training stakeholders on multiple online seller systems.
Fortunately, we had talented software engineers on our team who were able to hack together solutions to these problems.
While looking to scale, COVID-19 struck the industry, and our model around event operations was shattered. We had to rethink our business model, and in order to do so, we needed to understand the needs of the industry from more perspectives.
So, our team then went on LinkedIn and reached out to many people in the industry – ranging from valets to notable CEOs at all possible organizations on the operator and technology sides of parking.
We reached over 3,000 individuals and focused on three questions:

  1. What were your biggest problems pre-COVID?
  2. What problems do you have now (other than no one driving)?
  3. And what tech initiatives do you have going forward?

The overwhelming response was that the fragmentation in parking causes costly management problems, such as managing rates across multiple seller channels.
 

Solving fragmentation with a B2B platform

Fortunately, we already had the solution and just needed to build it for other verticals outside of events and turn it into a SaaS platform.

We moved quickly, course-correcting as needed, and built out the platform from the very beginning with the intention of being flexible and modular so that our partners could configure it to solve their most pressing issues: streamlining operations, connecting systems, and increasing margins.

The first feature in our platform was called “One-Click Rate Adjustment”…

…or, for short, “OCRA”.

Our team and our platform has grown tremendously since, but the name Ocra reflects our core value: empathy through interaction.

Empathy and shared experience is what drives us to make the platform better every day.

Because we’re not just a bunch of tech bros barging into parking and launching something because we see dollar signs. We’re former operators who build for operators and their partners.

We address pain points that we’re familiar with because we know the hustle and have experienced firsthand the value that seller channels can bring.

Today, Ocra is a true B2B agnostic partner that builds mechanisms that create connectivity between operators and their partners and deliver the highest ROI for everybody.

That’s the Ocra story (so far!).

And we’re writing more of it every day. Our platform and perspectives are always evolving based on the opportunities that emerge for our customers and partners.
To see how our team can help your team grow revenue through integrations and connectivity, send us an email and say hello.

Sarah Becherer

Sarah is the Vice President of Growth at Ocra. Her aim is to help people and businesses operate to their full potential through meaningful content powered by by creativity, empathy, and shared experience. Her non-parking interests include making pasta, exchanging postcards, studying French, accumulating tattoos, and exploring unfamiliar places.

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