A (not-so-typical) Typical Summer Internship at Honk. Written by the Intern.

This past summer I was fortunate enough to intern at Honk. It was quite the journey, I had a great summer dabbling in all business functions at a tech startup, seeing firsthand how all the pieces work together. I met a lot of great people and was thoroughly impressed with positive workplace atmosphere, as I enjoyed coming to work each and every day.

First Day @ Honk |

7:00 AM - Still in bed. Didn’t have to start until 10:00 AM. (Winning!)

10:00 AM - Came into the office and met with CFO (Jordan). I am working under him for the summer in a variety of capacities, ranging from market reporting to preparing materials for decks. (No coffee runs!)

12:00 PM - First team lunch, this is where I formally met the entire team. No doubt a ton of moving parts in a fast paced startup, these monthly meetings are used to ensure all team members across all teams are in-the-know about updates and changes. Communication is KEY. Also, lunch is DEE-LICIOUS.

4:00 PM - I am finally added to the Honk Slack channel and thus officially feel like a part of the team.

Sales Exposure |

A large part of my summer consisted of working closely with the sales team - Eddie, Tyson & Kacey. I researched and established promotional material for pitching to new and existing clients in order to expand Honk’s operations.

9:00 AM - Tasked with acting as a translator on a call to a french speaking municipality. This is the first time I have used my French Immersion education in over 5 years. Whoever said you didn’t need French in Toronto...you wrong, friend.

11:30 AM - The sales team meets to discuss sales strategy and funnel planning. My job is to update Honk’s internal database or take notes to keep the team on track.

Sales & Customer Support/Operations reppin' the new Honk gear.

Sales & Customer Support/Operations reppin' the new Honk gear.

Operations / Marketing Exposure |

Another large aspect of my summer was working with the operations team and creating informational dashboards to keep clients informed and happy, as well as working closely with our marketing manager, Rachel, to help with our marketing efforts.

10:00 AM - Meet with Mia or Kacey to determine if any existing clients need reporting and to discuss deliverables.

10:15 AM - Annoy the dev. team about various SQL functions, which I learned over the summer.

11:00 AM - Rachel has me draft our varying press releases, and make edits. Honk is growing like crazy this summer - I have a huge funnel of releases to dabble at.

3:00 PM - Finish the dashboard and present the findings to either the sales team or Mia. Occasionally, this data is used for marketing purposes or for press releases.

Summer Social |

8:00 PM - Arrive at Rec Room. Food is abundant and we have received tokens to play arcade games as well as participate in a virtual reality game of Ghostbusters.

10:00 PM - Kacey is exhibiting considerable talent at live Karaoke, and I am very full from all the delicious appetizers.

11:00 PM - Jeremy is now evoking some inner Gord Downie on the mic and everyone at Honk is impressed with his hidden talent.

11:15 PM - I have just beaten Tyson, Eddie and Andre at the football oriented arcade game. Riding a high (this may have been the highlight of the internship, not gonna lie).

12:00 AM - I have been gifted the team’s tokens and was able to make a big purchase of Dots Candy and a flashlight. All in all - a great night!

Final Thoughts |

I now know more about the parking industry than I ever thought possible. My friends continually asked me throughout the summer “how is the parking space?”. Jokes aside, it’s been super interesting to get a deep dive into how an industry that is typically an afterthought in the day-to-day lives of most people, can be as complex as it is. And how technology can really transform such an old fashioned space.

Ghostbusters VR Game @ The Rec Centre.

Ghostbusters VR Game @ The Rec Centre.

We Coulda Saved George Costanza So Much Heartache & Stress (but then he wouldn’t be George Costanza)

Let's take a walk down memory lane shall we? Back to the '90s. Before smartphones, parking apps and Instagram came into our lives. The good ol’ days when Seinfeld was on TV (and when we watched tv shows live as they aired - crazy, right?).

We live and breathe parking here at Honk and we can't help but wonder: if times were different, could Honk have saved poor ol' Georgey boy from blowing a gasket when it came to parking? The answer: Hells YES!

Didja ever wonder why there were so many parking related episodes of Seinfeld? Parking (and its associated peeves) have been around since the Model T. Thank goodness we’re here - take a look back at some of the parking related episodes where Honk would have been deeply appreciated by George and his whiney friends:

1. The Parking Space.

A classic. The one where George fights over a parking space with another driver for an ENTIRE EPISODE.

Enter Honk: George could've booked the spot ahead of time and had WAY more time for a Festivus dinner.

2. No Tricks, Just Parking.

George and Kramer find a bargain parking lot where the rates are super cheap. A rarity in New York City. Some things are just too good to be true. They start to think the rates are so low because ladies of the night are servicing their clients inside the parked cars.

Enter Honk: One click can find you cheap parking spots without the tricks. Just cheap, unbeatable rates! The question remains...would George still be the master of his domain?

3. The Parking Garage.

A favourite amongst many at Honk HQ, this episode is a gem. The entire episode is based around the search for Kramer’s car in the multi-level parking garage of a shopping mall in New Jersey. Everyone has something pressing they need to be doing, and they can’t for the life of them find the car.

Enter Honk: Ok - we don’t have an app for finding your car, but we do have a hack now that everyone is armed with a mobile phone. Take a picture of your parking level before you leave (works for hotel rooms too!) and you’ll never be lost again. Or just avoid the garage altogether, open the app, find a more convenient lot near the mall. Not that there’s anything wrong with that...and Elaine’s goldfish could have survived.

4. … Just don’t get towed!

Not a George Costanza parking fiasco, but you get the picture.

Enter Honk: We send you a text reminder 15 minutes before your parking session is set to expire and we let you add more time from anywhere - doesn’t matter if you’re being verbally abused by the Soup Nazi or searching for the last babka in the city. Kiss those tickets and tow trucks goodbye - get out and GO!

To sum up... While Honk definitely could have saved George and the whole Seinfeld gang from getting upset in their parking ‘adventures’, where would we be without the laughs? We couldn’t imagine it any other way. But now that Honk is here and Jerry is in a car, getting coffee... Giddy up!

An open letter from Honk CEO on Canada’s 150th Birthday: The Future of Tech Belongs to the Great White North

As I travel the globe representing Honk; the innovative Canadian payment app transforming parking, 9 times out of 10 my introduction is immediately greeted by a joke about how difficult it must be to find parking near my igloo “eh?”. Original, I know.

Igloo jokes aside, I pride myself on being an ambassador abroad and can talk about my love for hockey with my boys, hiking the Rockies, and canoeing and portaging through our great country’s lakes and rivers. There’s never a dull moment living in the Great White North. 

When I reflect on the reasons I love this country (poutine offerings aside), I become even more thankful that Honk is Canadian. This past year, Honk has been able to expand from coast to coast - quite literally, from Victoria, BC to Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Partnering with municipalities, universities, real estate owners and parking operators to get Canadians to their destinations faster and more efficiently. This growth is largely driven by Canada’s increasingly favourable business environment for tech - “Silicon Valley North”. This label is no myth. Honk, like many other startups, are thriving in Canada’s innovative, diverse and rapidly growing tech hubs.

 Canada’s welcoming business environment leads the G20. We benefit from having access to one of the most highly educated workforces in the world, rapid growth in research and development, low business costs and flexible immigration. Venture capital is on the rise with investors from all around the world looking for a piece of the action. The message has never been clearer – Canada is open for business.

 But this isn’t simply a fleeting boom. I’ve been in the tech industry for over two decades and this is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The energy is different and most importantly, so are the results. Canadian tech companies are now emerging as leaders on the world stage and this success is contagious.

The Great White North is a startup nation. This is our moment.

Our 150th gives us an opportunity to not only reflect on the past but also plan for a brighter future. I believe the best is yet to come for our young nation. Success won’t come easy and Canadian tech entrepreneurs need to build quickly on this momentum.

 We must tell our story to get ahead, even if that means putting politeness and humility aside. Canadians must support our own businesses first and prioritize their success. Our tech leaders must be bold, embrace inevitable failures and continue to welcome the best and the brightest with open arms.

 Fellow Canadians, we have so much to be proud of this holiday. Happy Birthday to our beloved nation – now, if I could just park my truck in my igloo..

Michael Back

~Proud Canadian~

Founder and CEO of Honk

 

Just a Few of Our Favourite Apps

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. But what’s an app on the home-screen worth? Quite a lot we think. Here at Honk we definitely rely on apps to help us with, well, life. From finding parking (duh!), to finding that last minute hotel accommodation, we’ve compiled a few of our favourite apps that our team just can’t live without.

Jiffy: Leaky sink? Malfunctioning AC? Can’t do anything with your hands other than Instagram? Not all of us at Honk are what you'd call "handy". Thankfully there's Jiffy. This app connects us to a network of service providers, in real-time, based on proximity, availability and ratings. We're not going to give names, but one of our employees may have used Jiffy to drill a floating shelf on the wall.... 

Foodora: After a long day at Honk, our staff is sometimes far too exhausted to make dinner. For times like these, we mindlessly turn to Foodora. All our favourite restaurants delivered right to our front-door via bicycle delivery person. With the tap of a button, we can satisfy that 10pm pad thai craving. It's quite the time we live in. Thank you technology - sincerely, our stomachs.

Bandsintown: Concert season is upon us, and Bandsintown has us covered. This handy app syncs our favourite music app and get updates on tours, concert venues and ticket prices - all in one place. There’s a bunch of die-hard concert-goers here at Honk HQ - so you can trust that we rely on this app to make sure we’re in the know with all shows coming to town.

HotelTonight: Let us preface by saying that our team loves to travel. Whether it be a quick trip to Amsterdam, a weekend in San Francisco, or a two week stint in Morocco - Honkers love to get out there and travel. Life can sometimes make it hard to plan ahead for a trip; for times like these we’re so thankful for HotelTonight. This travel app gives us great deals at premium hotels for these last minute trips. We simply go into the app, select the city and dates, and can book straight from the app.

Honk: And finally, we had to include our very own app - it’s not a bias, it’s just plain ol’ common sense! People are busy - time is valuable. Honk helps avoid wasting time circling the block trying to find parking - and lets you search, find and pay for that parking spot before you even leave the front door. We have an iPhone and Android version - and for those without a smartphone, we have an eCommerce enabled website. 

Do you feel like we forgot to include a cannot-live-without-app? Hit us up - we love discovering new apps!

Honk Does New Orleans: Parking Professionals in the Big Easy

Every year 3,500+ parking professionals from 45 countries not-so-begrudgingly head to a conference center somewhere fabulous in the US for IPI Conference & Expo; the world’s largest educational and networking event for the parking and transportation industry. This year’s conference (read: party) brought everyone together in Creole Country - New Orleans, Louisiana.

Our Director of Sales (Kacey Siskind) and CEO (Michael Back) represented Honk at the event this year. There was lots of networking, meetings, educational sessions, and of course food, drink & music!

The biggest takeaways from the conference?

A couple of important themes really jumped out from Kacey and Michael’s time at IPI 2017: big data & connected vehicles.

Big Data

We’ve heard this buzzword for a while now, but the parking industry is really starting to hone in on big data. And why not? Never before has there been so much information pouring in from so many different outlets - why not be smart and take advantage of this info to decrease inefficiencies and increase revenue? Data is king after all.

Shameless plug!: Honk provides parking operators, municipalities and universities with a financial and data-driven back-office. This web-based portal sheds insight on parking behaviour like never before. This ensures they’re making the most out of their parking inventory and better serving customers.

Connected Vehicles

Another word of the moment that’s here to stay, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). There was a lot of focus on how connected vehicles affect the parking industry, and what proactive steps can be taken to leverage and prepare parking for the autonomous, connected vehicle revolution that is sure to be here before we know it.  

….and food (duh)!

We can’t visit New Orleans without a dinner at Cochon, muffalettas (our favourite is from Central Grocery & Deli) and juicy, delectable crawfish. Kacey was lucky enough to stumble on The Mid-City Bayoo Boogaloo - a New Orleans festival that features music, food, arts & handicrafts. (Needless to say, the office was a tad jealous of her Instagram feed while she was away!).

Next up on the conference circuit: CPA (Canadian Parking Association) Conference in Banff, AB. Team Honk is super excited to take in the fresh Rocky Mountain air, and spread some good old Honk love to our Canadian clients!

Spring & Summer Music Festivals in Toronto

Country, hip-hop, jazz, classic rock… at Honk we don’t discriminate on music taste. We love it all!

With our HQ in Toronto, we’re spoiled with music festivals in and around the city in the spring and summer - we’ve got it all. We compiled a few of our favourite festivals (with some hints as to where to park along the way!).

Field Trip: Toronto, ON (Historic Fort York & Garrison Common). June 3 & 4

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Toronto’s downtown community music & arts festival, Field Trip is in the heart of the city. We’re particularly excited about Broken Social Scene, Phoenix and James Vincent McMorrow!

Honk Parking Nearby:

Zone 9103 - 15 Fort York/11 Brunel Court (BARGAIN!) Zone 1058 - 72 Tecumseth St.

NXNE: Toronto, ON (51 Commissioners St.) June 16-25

Music, gaming, comedy and food trucks… need we say more?

Honk Parking Nearby:

Zone 9009 - 333 Lakeshore Blvd. East Zone 9078 - 33 Parliament St.

Dreams FestivalToronto, ON (Echo Beach). July 7 & 8

One of Toronto’s most popular and loved electronic music festivals, Dreams Festival at Echo Beach draws in a crowd every year.

Honk Parking Nearby:

Zone 1041 - 7 Fraser Ave. Zone 9048 - 1 Jefferson Ave. 

Veld Toronto, ON (Downsview Park). August 5 & 6

Toronto can’t get enough EDM - Veld is a 2 day music festival that takes place at Downsview Park.

Honk Parking Nearby:

Zone 1053 - 1017 Wilson Ave.

Budweiser Stage Shows: Toronto, ON (909 Lake Shore Blvd West) Spring - Summer 2017

Last but not least, we can’t not include shows at Budweiser Stage
(formerly known as the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre).

You can’t get much better than laying on the lawn on a summer night, listening to one of your favourite’s play (*ahem, John Legend*).

Honk Parking Nearby:

Zone 1041 - 7 Fraser Ave. Zone 9048 - 1 Jefferson Ave. 

Our Go-To Guide for Spring in Toronto

Spring has officially sprung, and we could not be more excited to Honk around town! After months of cold, snow and little sunlight, you can be sure to find us Honkers out and about taking advantage of the spring weather at our favourite places.

Take a look below for a glimpse into our spring go-to’s:

1. Evergreen Brickworks Farmers Market.

Saturday mornings at the market are our happy place. Hands-down the best crêpes in Toronto, this alone is worth the trip.  The produce, flowers, family and bike-friendly programming are favourites amongst the office.  The market isn't served well by transit, so best to take the car and giggle as you walk past the lineup at the pay station knowing you've paid on your phone with Honk so you can get to Chocosol that much quicker!

Bonus: 3 parking lots on-site that accept Honk.

2. Cherry Blossoms in High Park.

The Toronto island is under water, so High Park will be your only chance to get a glimpse and a whiff of these beauties this spring. Good for all ages, making a trip to High Park in late April or early May to admire the cherry blossoms is a highlight of springtime in Toronto. It gets super busy; so we suggest going early in the day to beat the swarms of tourists.  If you've missed the cherry blossoms this year, High park is still a great destination for a picnic, a walk by the water or to take a peek at the animals in the zoo. 

3. Run along the Lakeshore.

As soon as warm weather hits, runners seem to come out of hibernation and invade the city. We have a couple of runners at Honk, and you can be sure to see them running along the Lakeshore on weekend mornings. The Toronto waterfront has a series of amazing trails, good for biking, running, walking the (office) dog and generally enjoying the south end of the city. 

4. Jays Game.

We'll just put it out there. They're off to a rough start. But to say Honk HQ is made up of sports fans is an understatement. You won't find any fairweather fans here and our loyalty has paid off, with the Jays being on a tear as of late. It'll be tight to make the playoffs but we follow our boys of summer, all the way through. (Updated: June 1st) And can you really beat a sunny Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre, with the Dome open?  

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Parking secret: 15 Fort York/11-15 Brunel Court has an unbeatable day rate of $8 (even on game days!)

5. Patio Season.

Last but not least - spring means patio season. Suffice to say, there are tons of different neighbourhoods across the city with great patios, and great deals.

Remember though: If you're driving, you should have a DD or use Honk to top up your time till you're sober.

Our top 5 patios for spring:

  1. Gusto 101 in King West

  2. Bellwoods Brewery in Queen West

  3. Amsterdam Brewhouse by Lakeshore

  4. The 3 Speed in Dundas West

  5. Hemingway’s in Yorkville

Meet the Honkers.

Adam Jasiura.

Developer. Dad. Kimchii Addict.

Honk: What does a day in the life at Honk look like for you?

Adam: After I drop the kid off at school and subway up to the office, we do the daily developer team stand-up meeting, where we check in with what we're working on. We're a startup, so our priorities are a moving target, and the team does frequent re-evaluations about what's most important for each of us to be working on.

Every week has its own flow (don't push live code on a Friday afternoon. Don't.) It's busy, but I never feel like it's chaotic. I try to focus on the work, and I hustle to contribute however I can with the time I have, until I haul home to make dinner.

Honk: What’s the most exciting project you worked on to-date at Honk?

Adam: Rebuilding and rebranding the Honk app version 2.0 was pretty exciting. The team had built up some experience with the programming tools, and we had the advantage of an already-working app, with customers. We got to put down a layer of design ideas for branding and user interface, and then we were off.

Some days programming is methodical detective work, or careful modelling, but this felt like a huge amount of productivity in a short amount of time, and every day we got a lot of visible feedback. Plus, we had divided the work up in such a way that each developer worked on pieces, and wiring them together was really satisfying.

I hope our customers like it - we're not done yet!

Pictured above: One of Adam's top waffle recipes at the moment. Based off of Food.com's Waffle of Insane Greatness Recipe.

Pictured above: One of Adam's top waffle recipes at the moment. Based off of Food.com's Waffle of Insane Greatness Recipe.

Honk: Your journey leading up to Honk isn’t what we’d call the typical developer’s path. Tell us a little about your past work experience, and how you landed at Honk as developer.

Adam: Yeah... I definitely engaged in a little career randomness. I don't have a technical education at all (my degree is in Latin, and I have a Bachelor of Education). I'm working as a developer now because I obtained an HR certification, and I moved back to Toronto hoping to do HR for medium-sized tech companies. I made some dev friends and worked on my programming in my off time to make myself more marketable. I ended up getting a small internship with a knowledgeable senior developer at a real-estate startup doing just code work, and I've been doing it ever since.

Before that, I also left a trail of past attempted careers, including: teacher, barista, insurance salesman, travelling document imager (which included living in hotels for 2 years), drywaller, lumber mill labourer, newspaper ad designer... plus I had a job where I got to dress up and act like a fur trader.

Honk: When not at work, where are you most likely to be found?

Adam: The kitchen, probably. I'm constantly tweaking the family waffle recipe. My daughter and I are still somehow into Pokemon GO, so every outing is an opportunity to go a-catching. I also just got back into jujitsu after a too-long break - it's great for clearing away the day's concerns, and it carries over to so many other parts of life.