To commemorate our 10th anniversary, our CEO Michael Back penned an Open Letter reflecting on a decade of transformation — We’ve weathered challenges, embraced opportunities, and evolved in ways we could only dream of. Joins us as we celebrate our 10th anniversary.
As we celebrate our 10th year in business, I can’t help but look in the rear view and smile. I’m reflecting on all that we at HONK have accomplished on the road to revolutionizing the parking industry, and it actually feels surreal. I still recall that afternoon in 2013 when I was rushing to get to a baseball game on time and parking was such a hassle that I dared to envision a new way of doing things. I didn’t have all the answers, just the steely determination that there had to be a better, faster way to park. Back then, there was no way I could have foreseen that our mighty little startup would come this far, this fast.
Ten years ago, software was still a newcomer on the payment scene, and yet it was already shining with untapped potential. For many months, my brain was buzzing in overdrive. There were so many possibilities! Could we ever stop being at the mercy of parking meters and pay stations and simply pay for parking from the comfort of our phones? Could we make payments so painless that the task of parking would be a no-brainer? Could owners and operators streamline their businesses with innovative software solutions and finally kick hardware and its costly limitations to the curb for good?
And the biggest question of all: Could we save so much time and so much money going places that our lives would become smoother, easier and more profitable? We sure could, and you know what? We did. HONK was born and we set out to change the parking landscape. Our small, tight-knit team worked tirelessly, mostly climbing steadily uphill. We learned pretty fast that real transformation takes time, patience and dedication.
We started our journey by developing a parking app that drivers could download on their phones, so they could conveniently pay for their spot. Soon, our little app started getting serious traction—and we watched in awe as it was downloaded millions of times! Clearly, we were onto something important, something people really needed and were ready for. HONKAPP is a popular solution that set us in the right direction and acted as a springboard. That’s what happens in business, and especially in payments. With each invention, there is always something new waiting to be discovered around every bend. You design a product, then it drives you to design more. And more, and more.
And so, the questions just kept on firing: What else could drivers and operators use to speed up and streamline payments? How could we transform parking for everyone—at public and private lots, on college and university campuses, at garages, hospitals, airports, everywhere on earth?
Of course, building a business is never easy. There have been unexpected twists and turns along the way, and a lot of potholes we’ve had to find our way around. There was even a global pandemic that shut down parking lots, then normalized remote working, which permanently altered office parking. Across the board, the parking industry dropped more than 95% in revenue. It was a scary time, but it was also an opportunity to improve the parking experience. In fact, real-life challenges that require innovative solutions have become our specialty.
The fact is, we didn’t become a leading North American provider of unattended payment solutions for parking and mobility by idling. We started by launching our parking app, then we kept inventing payment solutions until we could offer a whole parking package.
We have spent long days and sleepless nights considering from every angle how to simplify parking, from designing the first ever guest checkout solution for parkers to developing a do-it-yourself administration portal for operators, and so much more. Our aim is to cover every payment need, from the moment a driver hunts for a spot to the moment the operator receives deposits. And you can bet we won’t stop innovating—ever. Because after a decade in the business, parking is now in our DNA.
At HONK, we’re proud of how far we’ve come and our eyes are on the road ahead, but we know that what always matters most is who’s riding beside us on this ride. And let me tell you, the HONK team is a powerhouse! Every single person I work with is an inventor, an innovator, and a team player. I’m not embarrassed to admit that we get high on talking parking shop, and we count down the days to the next parking conference where we get to meet and mix and mingle with our people, the experts who rule and fuel our industry. And most of all, HONK would be nowhere without our dedicated customers—the owners, operators, and drivers who show (and tell) us every day that what we do makes how they live so much better.
Still, no matter how much we think we know, there’s always more to learn in this ever-evolving world, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it. HONK may be a decade in but we’re nowhere near slowing down. In fact, we’re stepping on the gas! This amazing 10-year milestone just reminds us that it’s time to swing onto the open road and see just how fast and far this baby can go.