Los Angeles Business Journal

Twenty in Their 20s: Sam Friedman and Alex Israel

Monday, May 13, 2013

SAM FRIEDMAN, 28

ALEX ISRAEL, 29

ParkMe, a mobile app for parking information, Santa Monica

EMPLOYEES: 24

FINANCIALS: ParkMe licenses data to navigation providers; first major revenue deal expected in June.

What led you to start your own company?

Friedman: I think we were heading to a movie in Santa Monica one night and ended up circling around for several minutes looking for an open parking spot. We eventually came to the conclusion that the problem of parking needed to be solved. This led us to begin collecting data and building relationships with cities and private parking operators.

Where did you get the startup money?

Israel: Initially we had some local angel and friends and family investors that helped Sam and myself get set up, which eventually led us to secure larger funding.

Friedman: We’ve received two major rounds of funding. Our Series A came from two groups: Fontinalis Partners, Detroit-based intelligent transportation fund, and IDG Ventures in Silicon Valley.

What was the most important lesson you learned?

Israel: Starting a company is like being on a never-ending roller coaster. You have to learn how to balance everything properly and always be moving forward.

Friedman: Lack of momentum is a startup’s greatest enemy.

How many hours a day do you put in?

Israel: Most every hour that I’m not asleep I’m thinking about work or doing something work related. In a startup, we don’t have the luxury of waiting for things to happen, we have to be moving forward constantly.

Friedman: My team will often receive emails from me in the middle of the night and they joke that I should get more sleep. But I feel like it’s hard to completely shut myself off from work at any given time.

Does your youth lead to awkward situations, such as when you supervise older workers or meet with clients and investors?

Friedman: Maybe at first, but Alex and I have been through enough investor pitches and board meetings to know how to rise above the perceptions people have of us. At this point, I think it’s an advantage for us, particularly within the parking industry. I think the industry welcomes our youthfulness and are eager to hear our ideas about bringing parking into the 21st century.

Will you start another company?

Friedman: We have our hands full as is with this company. But I’ll never say never.

Israel: I think it’s safe to say this will not be our last business venture, but we can’t start getting ahead of ourselves. There’s still too much work to be done with ParkMe to think about the next phase.

Could you ever work for someone else?

Israel: I won’t say never, but I think I can speak for both of us when I say that this is just too much fun.

What do you do to relax?

Israel: When my inbox is at zero I’m at my most relaxed.

Friedman: I have never looked at life with the dividing line of business and pleasure. Work is pleasure. Sometimes it’s stressful, sometimes it’s not.