Every so often I come across a term of which I am unfamiliar. Typically I nod sagely and then run to Google to see what’s what. In this case its
Cooptition: Cooperative competition. Practice where competitors work with each other on project-to-project, joint venture, or co-marketing basis.
I was on the phone today with a Venture Capital Firm discussing money that has been flowing into the new start ups in the parking industry. Cooptition came up a number of times. My contact felt that tech start ups in the parking business needed to be deeply involved in cooperative competition to enable them to thrive and grow.
Venture Capitalists, it seems, are “rising tide raises all boats” folks. As one company thrives, others in the same genre will thrive. Working together will only make that happen faster.
He believed that the parking business needs to see customers not as just cogs in a wheel, but to strive to make parking easy and as importantly, pleasurable. He said we need to answer questions like:
- How can I bring customers more services?
- How can I partner with other companies to success
- Just what is ‘parking’ and what could it be?
We seem to have accepted that parking is a necessary evil. Drivers hate it but must use our services. So why do we need to anything more than provide space for a price.
Tech companies that are being supported by venture capitalists are providing services that will, they hope, provide answers to the above questions and make parking a pleasurable experience. If we give drivers parking choices, make their actual experience a good one, and perhaps provide other services that they may want at the same time (wash, oil change, dry cleaners, coffee bar, valet services) they may be willing to pay more for the service.
Some garages make a run at these services, but fall down when it comes to communication with parkers. Technology is on the cusp of enabling vehicles to be in contact with their destinations and enabling drivers to partake of services that will make their experience easier.
These money guys believe that the companies that connect parking locations, drivers, and services will carry the industry in the nest few years. The parking ecosystem, if you will, will grow and the typical horrible parking experience will be a thing of the past, and parkers will line up to pay for the more pleasurable parking space.
Companies who ‘stay the course’ and don’t look for a new experience in parking do so at their peril. We shall see. In the meantime, Cooptition is the word.