Founder Patrick Murray, 33, partnered with industry veteran Brett Harwood, chairman of Welcome Parking, and founder and principle of Park Equity, to build the business in 2016. At the time, their research revealed to them that the airport parking industry—which accounts for a big portion of the U.S. parking industry’s revenue— was essentially ignoring the idea of dynamic online pricing.
In March 2016, they began building Noson, which makes it easy to park at or close to the airport for affordable prices, using a model similar to Priceline or Hotwire. Consumers and business travelers to book online. They don’t know exactly which lot they’ll park in, but if they lots are a distance away, they have access to a shuttle to take them to and from the terminal.
The then-two-person business, which relied on help from a team of contractors, grew to $1 million in annual revenue by 2018. But when COVID-19 hit and planes got grounded, the demand for airport parking fell off a cliff.
Murray knew he needed to find a new way to make it through the pandemic. He began reaching out to the parking lots themselves to see how they could join forces. As consumers began planning trips again in the spring of 2021, he was able to make contact with national parking providers who’d previously been elusive to see if his technology could steer new business from leisure and vacation travelers their way.
“There were facilities that were completely empty,” he says. “We were able to send them 10,000 customers a month.” As a result of those efforts, the company now works with parking providers in 56 airports across the country and sales have come roaring back as business and leisure travel resumes. “We’ve had hockey stick growth,” he says.
Although Murray’s business thriving now, many others are still trying to make a comeback from the pandemic. Here are three strategies he used during the lull in business that positioned Noson for success once normal commerce resumed.
Rethink the entire business. When business was slow, Murray and Harwood took a close look at how they were operating and looked for areas they could improve. “We reevaluated everything,” says Murray. One result of their soul searching was that they rebuilt their technology. “Now our technology is similar to what Facebook and Netflix have running,” he says. “Anytime we wanted to add a new feature, or a partner asks for a customized request, it’s a lot easier for us to do things like that.”
Take care of your partners. When their cash flow slowed to a trickle, it wasn’t clear how Noson would keep up with paying its partners. Harwood ultimately provided the business with a line of credit so they could pay their partners on time, and the parking facilities could, in turn, keep paying their landlords. “Everyone came together,” says Murray. “Afterwards, we learned that wasn’t the case for some of our competition.”
Be patient. One thing Murray learned since launching the business is that success takes longer than his younger self imagined. “It’s five years in, and it feels like a short period of time,” he says. Now, when things seem to be taking too long, he reminds himself to be patient. “If people are willing to spend money on something and you can profit from it, you’ve got a truly viable business,” he says.