Site to find a park finds praise

Founding director of Pickapark Keryn Pivac-Kernan and Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive...
Founding director of Pickapark Keryn Pivac-Kernan and Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan. Mrs Pivac-Kernan’s Pickapark website is the first nominee in the Westpac Otago Business Awards 2018. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
The first nominee for the Westpac Otago Business Awards 2018 is already attracting national attention for her entrepreneurial streak.

Keryn Pivac-Kernan (30)  has spent the past three years developing her car-parking website Pickapark, which operates across the country, in what she described as initially "home-based development", while working part-time and raising a young family.

In the awards, held every second year, and which attracted 165 nominations in 2016, Pickapark has been nominated for the Sustainable Business Practices Award.

Mrs Pivac-Kerna’s inspiration came from her own travels and her grandmother’s country-wide house bus journey, plotting free Wi-Fi sites for her.

"About 80% of Pickapark was built at home," she said.

However, that all changed when she moved into the shared office space Petridish in Dunedin earlier this year, where she now devotes all her time to  development of the website  with six casual staff.

She said Petridish had been inspirational and helped her focus — there were numerous businesses offering advice, a Women in Business group and sponsored community events, which also provided networking opportunities.

Mrs Pivac-Kernan’s website connects people to 24/7, minimum hour-long parking stays — potentially hundreds of car parks in 22 car park buildings in locations including Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

The services range  from pre-ordering parks across the country in large private and commercial  parking buildings, through to single parks in a range of cities, and in the case of Dunedin recently, hiring out driveways near the Forsyth Barr Stadium for the  All Blacks versus France rugby test.

"We had 15 driveways to start with and when we looked online 12 were already gone," she said.

Planning for events in the  future was now a priority.

"It’s all about the learning curve," she said.

Pickapark also offers maps to find free Wi-Fi, camping grounds, motor-home parks and electric charging stations.

Also in development are maps for finding disabled parks and business discounts.

Mrs Pivac-Kernan is also designing an on-site solar-powered parking meter for ticketless parking, which in some cities could mean doing away with environmentally unfriendly carbon tickets.

Mrs Pivac-Kernan said she was in confidential negotiations at present with a large car-park company, and also a potential investor considering taking a stake in her company.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said Mrs Pivac-Kernan  had shown "great courage and a lot of hard work" in becoming established.

"It’s a Dunedin idea, but which is being taken up in Auckland and Wellington. It can be run from a hub here," he said.

He said the risks taken by Mrs Pivac-Kernan tied in with the chamber’s theme in the business awards of  having the "courage" to step up in the business arena.

"Pre-booking parking [online] saves time, it gives certainty and helps productivity," he said.

• Entries close on August 31. The winners will be announced at a gala awards dinner in Dunedin on November 30.

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