We had the good fortune of connecting with Thad Oviatt and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Thad, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
One day in college a friend looked really sad. I asked him “What’s up?” He had two of his $1,000 road bicycles stolen in a week. When the second bicycle was stolen the thief left a sticky note on the cut bike lock chain that said “THANKS!”. My friend said “Hey, you’re an engineer, make something to prevent bicycle theft.” At the time I was looking for a senior design project. I decided to combine a bike rack, bike lock, and a computer. I made a prototype in college and it paid for two masters degrees. After college I went to work for a corporation. After a year of working for them I was let go. And then after 374 unsuccessful job interviews in 6 months I decided to try “Plan B”. I’ve now been working on “Plan B” for 9 years. Been through 7 product design changes including a pivot into charging stations for electric bicycles (e-bikes). Now I am deploying the first universal secure e-bike charging station into the Atlanta metro area at Atlanta Tech Village. The stations will secure any bicycle and charge any e-bike on the market!

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Parkent Cycles or “Parkent” makes the world’s first universal secure e-bike charging stations. They can securely park and charge any e-bike on the market. While other companies can secure bicycles or charge e-bikes, no other company in the world can do both for everything on the market. It all stems from having way too much college graduate time. I found the one point all bicycle frames have in common. The significance of that point is the entire bicycle/e-bike market is custom designed and every frame is different. So, I built the stations off of that one point in order to service the whole market.

Getting to where we are, deploying stations today was tough. It took us years because we’ve had comparably very little capital for a hardware startup. We’ve been able to prototype, A/B market test, patent, and manufacture a product with only $140,000 spent. Most of our capital has come from family and friends with a couple of outside investments from accelerators. The lack of capital forced us to shop around to find the best bang for the buck.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
For a friend coming into town there are a few places I’d like to take them to. One day would have to be Stone Mountain, then another day we could do Centennial Olympic park, the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coke and the College Football Hall of Fame because they’re in one spot. For food I could treat them to a “Southern experience” with Mary Mac’s Tea Room for lunch and Miller Union for dinner. Otherwise it has to be BBQ1 for lunch and the Gun Show for dinner.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First I have to shout out to my fellow entrepreneur Bryan Hobbs for introducing me to you. Next is The FARM | Boomtown accelerator program for accepting me into their Cohort 3. Swift Atlanta for agreeing to manufacture my first run of 10 stations. ORB Design & Manufacturing for letting me house my stations in development and for station assembly. Then the Flashpoint at Georgia Tech accelerator program who grilled me on my idea for 6 months to help me grow. PCI Procoaters for manufacturing my first commercial grade station. Also the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) program who through government subsidies helped to commercially design the product. The two groups of 5 engineers from the Georgia Tech Capstone Design program who brought my ugly prototype into a commercial ready product. Next is Mark Oviatt, my co-founder and father, he knows all the things 30 years of business teaches you that a MBA does not. My graphic designer Alessandra Shahan, who’s been with me from the start and will not let me post graphical content with her approval. Lastly my mother Valerie Oviatt, who died of a heart attack in 2017. She always encouraged me saying “You’re smart enough, go figure it out!”

Website: https://www.parkentcycles.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/parkentcycles

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/parkent-cycles

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ParkENTCycles

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/parkentcycles

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvyxIuDBN9SktBKotVb0cew

Image Credits
Images were taken and edited by Alessandra Shahan of Alessandra42. (http://www.alessandra42.com/)

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