By Zachary Nelson
Ope Thomas had a problem. When he started at UB, he encountered the same frustration time and time again. Ope lamented, “When I moved here, it was hard to find parking… and if I could find parking, I’d get a ticket.” The frustration festered until he decided to build the first prototype of his real time, street parking app. 39 prototypes later, students of UB are presented with Roadi, the Apple certified mobile application with the slogan, “Helping you park when it matters.”
Many readers have probably seen Roadi’s white booth set up in the foyers of the Student Center and the Merrick School of Business. This month marks the app’s formal introduction to the general population. The most exciting part is that UB students can start using this app on their way to school right now. I already have.
Several months ago, I approached the school with Roadi at my side. To be honest, I was somewhat skeptical that parking was going to be available at the promised location. After all, how could the app possibly know this information? As I turned the corner, I was surprised to find a convenient parking spot, just where Roadi had predicted. Just incredible – and perhaps a little spooky too.
Ope describes Roadi as a, “Mobile application that allows you to know when another user is leaving a parking space – where the best streets are to find parking at the time that you are looking.” Readers may be wondering, “How does the app know where to find the best parking?” Accuracy is insured by combining three layers of data into a cohesive whole: field research, user generated information, and large, publicly available, data files.
This app exists entirely because of the time and energy invested into the project by the CEO. In our interview, Ope described the 40+ hours he invests into Roadi every week while talking a full course load at UB. He is a member of the Entrepreneurship Fellows Program. This program, directed by Dr. David Lingelbach coaches a select cohort of students to create innovative, scalable business in Baltimore and beyond. Ope is thankful to be a part of this program as it provides the necessary support and encouragement which are so essential for aspiring entrepreneurs. He is also thankful to be a student at a university that hosts frequent business pitch competitions and networking opportunities.
If any of our readers are interested in being a part of the Roadi movement, Ope