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Jerry Skillett of SPACES USA: “Parking has always been a “grudge” purchase”

Parking has always been a “grudge” purchase. Like all infrastructure, water, electricity etc. a city can’t function without it. Because of the necessity, parking from a customer convenience basis was not necessary since the driver had to park anyway. As payroll cost significantly rose over the past decade cashiers (human interaction) were replaced by automated […]

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Parking has always been a “grudge” purchase. Like all infrastructure, water, electricity etc. a city can’t function without it. Because of the necessity, parking from a customer convenience basis was not necessary since the driver had to park anyway. As payroll cost significantly rose over the past decade cashiers (human interaction) were replaced by automated parking equipment. While the automated parking equipment worked, the usability was very difficult both from understanding what to do as well as the functional aspect of being able to reach, touch and complete an automated transaction from inside a car.


As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jerry Skillett. Jerry is Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of SPACES, a revolutionary technology company that enables the monetization of vehicle navigation in the global parking industry. With more than 35 years’ experience as an industry executive and innovator, he provides the company with strategic guidance and visionary leadership.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Everyone wants to develop an APP. Try downloading an APP in an active parking lane, inside your car while you are backing up traffic and people are honking at you. Our original blue tooth enabled APP was a magical experience to use, however, this is not standing in line at Starbucks, this is in traffic, inside a car, a completely different user experience. I have been in the parking business for 39 years and parked 1,000’s of times, and I was the one who was caught downloading the APP in the parking lane, I should have known better!

The lesson learned is to get into the testing mode as soon as possible so that you really get to experience what the customer will experience; it will save you an incredible amount of time and money.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

My father certainly has had the biggest impact on my journey. I am from a very small town in Kansas and he was always encouraging me with “Only those willing to risk doing the impossible will ever discover the answer of what is possible”, from that small start from that little town I have climbed some of the tallest mountains in the world, competed in the IRONMAN World Championship, built and purchased billion-dollar companies. Still discovering!

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Parking has always been a “grudge” purchase. Like all infrastructure, water, electricity etc. a city can’t function without it. Because of the necessity, parking from a customer convenience basis was not necessary since the driver had to park anyway. As payroll cost significantly rose over the past decade cashiers (human interaction) were replaced by automated parking equipment. While the automated parking equipment worked, the usability was very difficult both from understanding what to do as well as the functional aspect of being able to reach, touch and complete an automated transaction from inside a car.

The parking industry, mobile technology industry and contactless payment industry did not have a solution for this. SPACES USA developed a customer simple way of accessing gated parking facilities by dialing a phone number which provides immediate access to the facility. The customer then receives a SMS text to set up their payment process and then when the customer is ready to leave, they dial a number at the exit to leave. While behind the scenes there is a sophisticated cloud-based system at work, from the customer standpoint their mobile device now replaces all the parking equipment, pay stations, and cashiers except the access gate. Think about it, everyone knows how to dial a number, and everyone knows where on their mobile device to dial a number, no training needed, no APP needed! And all done inside the car. The ease and convenience of solving this problem is a complete disrupter of how parking works today.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I think “disruptive” is overused, primarily to attract attention. I think it’s all about the customer experience. If you truly make their life easier, then they change the rules, you don’t.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“The only thing to fear is fear itself.” I was never the smartest, the fastest, the richest or the most handsome. However, just being an “overcomer” of obstacles put me in a very exclusive group of achievers that overruled everything else.

“I make friends from business, I don’t do business with friends” Business Partnerships are incredibly difficult, why ruin a great friendship by over intertwining the relationship? Very tough lesson.

“The provision necessary to manifest the idea is contained within executing the idea” You have to jump first, then the provision is provided, I have proven it 100 times over.

Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

I am the consummate insider, if I don’t know everyone in the industry that I am tackling, then I hire someone who does.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

There are multiple levels of digitalization of the parking industry and I am just getting started!

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

Anatomy of Peace. The very best book ever written on authentic relationships. This will change your relationship life for your employees, your investors, your customers, your children and your wife!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I am very involved with AVAIL in NYC, this is an unplanned pregnancy organization that supports what I will call ‘the third way”, it’s not pro-life, it’s not pro-choice, its pro-love to support the young men and women who experience an unplanned pregnancy no matter what choice they make. By the way, my birth was one of those unplanned pregnancies. Amazing.

How can our readers follow you online?

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