One thinks a lot about traffic and parking and all the hassle around it. One also feels relieved when they land upon a good parking spot but rarely spares a thought for the people who make it possible. One such candidate who needs to be thanked is Central Parking Services, also known as CPS, who help maintain huge parking lots in malls and multiplexes. Founded in 2005 by N Sathyanarayanan, a first time entrepreneur, today CPS has over, 2700 employees and is India’s largest parking management firm with operations across 30 cities in the country.
Sathya is an electrical & electronics engineering graduate from Anna University, Chennai and has worked with corporates like Voltas and Honeywell in the past. CPS was earlier part of the parent company Building Control Solutions that specialized in intelligent building solutions (energy efficient solutions) which Sathya had setup in 1996. While working at Control Solutions, Sathya had an idea about the business of parking lots. And as demand grew and Sathya saw the huge potential, he shifted focus to CPS.
“The general perception about parking management is that it is very unorganized and is handled by goons at most places. I saw this space as a huge opportunity and leveraging technology, we’ve been able to organize the space and systemize things,” says Sathya. The company is responsible for setting up some of the best managed parking lots in Bangalore including the ones at Forum and Garuda mall (the first two they setup) in Bangalore. “This is not a glamorous job and there is a lot of dirty work to be done to keep things rolling smoothly,” informs Sathya about the domain. The barriers to entry are also very high, he says.
CPS was going strong and investors were knocking their doors — something not seen very often in the Indian startup ecosystem. You know you’re onto something really big when the investors are chasing you and not the other way around. VentureEast invested $5.5 million in CPS in 2010 and Sathya informs that they’d probably raise their next round in 2014.
Raking in revenues of INR 60 crores last year, man power is now a challenge for CPS. “Salaries were in the range of Rs 6,000 few years ago but now the average salary has gone up by 100% which is making things bit difficult,” says Sathya. CPS has an inhouse training program which trains new joinees to become a ‘parking professional’ (as they call it). There are other players in the market who provide the same services as CPS offers, but according to Sathya those are atleast 70% smaller in terms of scale attained.
Talking about his personal motivation, Sathya shares an interesting trait of an entrepreneur, “When you’re building a business and it is doing well, the feeling that you’re onto something huge is very motivating. This is what keeps me going everyday and I thoroughly enjoy the challenge that comes with building and scaling a business.”