Mover, shaker, leader
Nat Parker, the cofounder and CEO of MaaS (Mobility as a Service) company moovel, has been named TiE Oregon's Entrepreneur of the Year.
The Business Tribune asked Parker, who was travelling at the time, about how moovel is getting settled in Old Town and how things are under ownership by Daimler.
Business Tribune: How is working in Old Town?
Nat Parker: I've really enjoyed working in Old Town. Our moovel office is centrally located and provides great access for commuting in to work, with close proximity to MAX/bus lines. Moovel is one of the newer tenants in a changing neighborhood, and we're proud to be involved in this transformation.
BT: Is the rideshare landscape changing in Europe?
NP: The greatest challenge for the ridesharing/ride-hailing businesses in Europe is meeting regulatory expectations. Major rideshare and ride-hailing providers have begun operating in Europe recently. However, strong taxi laws remain in effect. It is estimated that ride hailing in the European market is expected to grow at a similar rate to the United States. Overall at moovel, we believe the combination of using public transit with ride hailing and emerging mobility options helps provide first and last mile solutions.
BT: How is TriMet's HOP working out? (HOP used to be called TriMet Tickets, the first multimodal white-label mobile ticketing app in the US.) Does that affect moovel?
NP: HOP has innovated how people travel within the region. It's expanded transit access for the Portland-Vancouver metro area. It's helped improve the user experience from the payment perspective and has given riders more mobile ticketing options.
BT: Which agencies are you pitching/working on USA-wide?
NP: Moovel North America partners with 18 transit agencies and organizations, including TriMet, SFMTA, Portland Streetcar, Caltrain, VTA, BART, FASTLinkDTLA, LADOT, OCTA, MTS/NCTD, Metro Transit, CTA/PACE/Metra, Metro (Houston), VIA, MTA/MDOT, HRT, VRE and the Atlanta Streetcar.
BT: Could 5G internet make the suburbs a place to live/work, thus cutting down commute trips?
NP: There's a massive transformation with technology and infrastructure; many cities aren't planning to build more infrastructure. Moovel's vision is a world without traffic jams and our mission is to help transform cities by providing sustainable mobility solutions. We believe that if smart mobility options are convenient, efficient, sustainable, easily accessible, and tailored to individual wants and needs, there is a strong possibility that people will be happier and healthier.
Further connecting suburbs and cities through the use of higher speed internet connectivity is crucial to support our vision. In the future, the more connected our communities are, the better. 5G is a boon to the Internet of Things and will help Smart Cities gather the data they use to empower decisions. It's also a basis for vehicle-to-everything communication which will benefit autonomous vehicles as well as improve micro location of vehicles (and potentially people).
BT: What does TiE mean to you?
NP: Since selling GlobeSherpa I have been a TiE Charter Member and have served as a mentor to other entrepreneurs who have sought advice on raising capital, navigating an acquisition, or just growing as a CEO. TiE Oregon was instrumental in helping mentor me and provide funding that launched GlobeSherpa seven years ago. Today at moovel we have grown to over 200 people reinventing urban mobility. I am incredibly grateful to receive this honor and happy to continue to learn from my friends at TiE.
Receiving this award means a lot to me as my entrepreneurial journey has taken so many interesting turns since selling GlobeSherpa. Learning how to operate in a multi-national company like Daimler presented new challenges and opportunities that have allowed me to really develop into a better leader and more effective CEO. I was able to oversee the merger of my company with RideScout in Austin, TX to create moovel North America, and am now preparing for the merger of Daimler and BMW's mobility businesses to create a new mobility powerhouse. The pace of change and ability to stay true to my startup roots throughout has been incredible.
Rai on Parker
Starting in 2013, Parker received ongoing mentorship and early investment from the TiE Oregon Angels. Along with his team, Parker grew GlobeSherpa and returned the investment. In 2015, he sold the company to RideScout of Austin Texas. RideScout is owned by moovel, a division of German automaker Daimler. (Daimler owns MyTaxi and Car2Go.)
According to Nitin Rai, President of TiE Oregon and Chair of TiE Global, Parker gets the award because he displayed leadership from the get go.
"I remember the first time that I met Nat when he was building GlobeSherpa. I could tell from day one that he had what it takes to make a company a big success. He had a great idea, the intelligence, the passion, and the drive. Most importantly, he was always very open and transparent whenever he needed help which is important when working with investors. Because of his candor, we were able to help him through a few challenging times ... and now he's transformed the GlobeSherpa of yesterday into the incredibly successful Moovel North America of today."
He added that Parker has always attracted good workers. from the GlobeSherpa days, and kept them. Part of that is by being straight with everyone.
"He gives back, and he's not afraid to share bad news. He's very articulate and extremely transparent. He has built a phenomenal team, and is able to attract great players, most of whom are still with Moovel."
Fundraising moved quickly because of Parker's confidence. But he was also good at strategy.
"They got sued by a competitor for patent infringement," continues Rai.
This threatened their next round of funding and there was a contract worth millions of dollars on the line.
"He sorted it out. He listened and took advice and we were able to settle the lawsuit.
"A year on (the plaintiff company) sold and I think they're out of business."
Rai added, "Nat was very open to the idea of an early exit. We said keep your strategic options open, it's a competitive market. He made a whole bunch of people a bunch of money. From our perspective it's all about the recirculation of the wealth."
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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