Juan José Leaño, Parco: Digitalizing Latin America’s parking industry, Ep 181

Crossing Borders Juan José Leaño

As an intern at a law firm, Juan hated parking in cash-only parking lots. After having to go to the ATM or getting countless parking tickets, he thought there had to be a better way. In 2016, Parco was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and has since expanded into 28 cities across the country.

Parco allows parking lot operators to install a software system to their existing parking systems for consumers to pay using a credit card via the Parco app. Users can also pay for parking tickets and get information about their driving history. 

In this episode, we discuss how Parco is changing how the parking business operates and improving people’s lives across Latin America. We talk about his journey from working at a law firm to becoming a full-time tech entrepreneur and how the pandemic accelerated the company’s growth. 

From law firm employee to full-time entrepreneur

Juan knew nothing about the tech business world when he started Parco, but he did know a problem when he saw one. Juan drove a car to run errands for his job at a law firm in Guadalajara, and parking was a nightmare because parking lots only accepted cash. After a few costly parking tickets, Juan pitched the Parco idea to his boss, who thought it was a great idea and said he was willing to invest. 

In this episode of Crossing Borders, Juan talks us through his experience creating a company with zero experience to building a startup that plans to scale to multiple Latin American countries.

Creating an easy and transparent way for people to pay for parking in Latin America 

Before Parco, parking meant long lines, carrying cash, or walking to an ATM to take out cash if you didn’t have any with you. Today, Parco allows people to pay for their parking via an app, which is 10x better than waiting in line or running back into a mall to search for an ATM.

Parco also generates user demographics and data for operators to understand how users behave and how often they park while providing transparency and safety.

Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to learn more about how Parco provides more revenue to parking operators and why they chose to be a software vendor instead of hardware.

Scaling Parco in Mexico during the pandemic

The pandemic was a before and after for Parco. Before the pandemic, Parco had only launched in 8 cities. Since then, the Parco team launched  20 more cities remotely.

The pandemic not only accelerated the parking industry’s digitization but also changed the way Parco interacts with customers. The app quickly transitioned from an added value to a necessity. 

In this episode, Juan shares with us how the pandemic became a milestone for Parco because of how they learned to scale and expand. 

Outline of this episode:

  • [01:20] – What problem does Parco solve?
  • [05:08] – Juan’s background
  • [07:15] – Creating a company with zero experience
  • [09:45] – Parco’s geographic expansion
  • [12:07] – Covid-19’s effect on Parco
  • [15:26] – Choosing to be a software vendor
  • [16:48] – Planning for a LatAm expansion
  • [18:23] – Parco as an operating system
  • [20:30] – Data analytics for operators
  • [23:48] – Advice for a younger Juan
  • [24:55] – Book recommendations
  • [26:25] – Parco’s plans for the future

Resources & People mentioned:

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