Pitch perfect

The universal struggle to find a free parking space could be over for good thanks to an innovative app idea thought up by the winner of a business pitch competition for students.

Yan Jin Loh, 21, won this year’s University of Sheffield Enterprise (USE) Evolve competition with her idea ‘ParkToGather’, an app which would allow drivers to book a space in a car park in advance and pay for it with the touch of a button.

Yan Jin LohThe app would also let people who have a parking space at their house which is available when they take their car to work to rent this out to drivers who work nearby and struggle to find a spot.

“I got the idea quite spontaneously, I just knew that parking is a big problem and that we have to solve it,” said Yan Jin, a second year Mechanical Engineering student.

“I struggled to find a parking space myself when I was driving in my home country. Engineers are always working to utilise resources, which is how I came up with this idea.”

Yan Jin said that she never thought she would win the competition when she entered, having heard about it at a meeting of the University of Sheffield’s Entrepreneur’s Society.

“When I was chatting with the other participants and I told them I wasn’t expecting anything, they told me that spontaneous ideas are the best. It turns out it really was!” She said.

Yan Jin found the second round of the competition, where the ten semi-finalists pitched in front of a camera for their own Youtube videos, the most challenging part of the competition, but said she really enjoyed the whole experience.

“I always have a lot of ideas, so I like that the competition gave me a platform to pitch my idea and actually get something from it,” she said.

Yan Jin is hoping to use her prize money to help her carry the idea forward, and would like to find a co-founder.

“I want to start it now, because throughout the competition votes I got a lot of positive feedback and people told me to start now and not wait. Technology is one of those things where if you don’t start now there will be someone else doing it soon,” she said.

The Evolve competition is run by USE, who offer support to students and graduates of the University of Sheffield who are looking to develop their ideas, found their own startups or develop enterprising skills.