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TECH SPOTLIGHT//CURB NINJA Photography courtesy of Curb Ninja CURBNINJA IT’S EASY RIDING FOR URBAN MOTORCYCLISTS WITH LAUNCH OF NEW APP Written by Chloe Aiello 14 Meet Fred Lebed and Tim Hines: two tech-savvy motorcycle enthusiasts who are revolutionizing the parking experience for motorcycle and scooter riders in Chicago and across America. What with knockdowns, towing, and ticketing, parking in any major city can pose quite the threat to those who choose to commute on two wheels. With the launch of their clever new app, CurbNinja, Fred and Tim hope to provide users access to safe and reliable parking anywhere in the city. CurbNinja launched in April <strong>2014</strong> and remains the first app of its kind to benefit the growing audience of urban motorcycle and scooter riders. Compatible with Android and iPhone (and free to download), the Chicago-based app has been well received in the city and its suburbs, which are home to a particularly loyal and diverse motorcycle community. <strong>CUSP</strong> MAGAZINE WINTER ’14 ISSUE
“Countless clubs and organizations hold events on a weekly basis and also host some of the largest rallies in the country,” Fred said. The integrity of the community depends, in part, on ease of parking; people living and riding just outside of the city can feel somewhat isolated. “We didn’t think that something like parking should be a deterrent for riding in the city and [engaging with] the motorbike community.” CurbNinja works with the GPS in your smart phone to provide localized, interactive maps of user-tested and confirmed parking spots. “Anyone forced to park their motorbike in an urban area has to be aware of the hidden gems that most people would overlook...these are the spaces either too small for automobiles or just too confusing with local laws,” Fred continued. Once a user finds a spot, he or she is encouraged to tag it on the map and include a photograph and description. Relying on crowdsourcing alone can be ruinous to a startup, but Fred and Tim sought to circumvent the problem by unleashing a team of stealthy “spot ninjas” into the streets to supplement the growing pool of user-identified parking. “We loved the idea of being stealthy enough to find these spaces and take advantage of them—this is how the “ninja” mentality was born.” Fred and Tim met at the University of Illinois where they studied very different majors but found that their varied strengths and mutual love of motorcycling made them a fearsome team for the development and launch of CurbNinja. Fred, a 2003 Ducati Monster rider, acts as “Chief Operations Ninja” and handles operations and strategic planning while Tim, proud owner of a 1986 Yamaha Maxim, handles marketing and advertising as “Chief Marketing Ninja”. The road to CurbNinja’s development has not been without speed bumps, as the concept is still innovative in the mobile application marketplace. According to Fred, the most daunting challenges come in the form of technical development and target advertising. Success, too, can be difficult to quantify. “We look at not only the amount of users but also [at] the feedback we get from the motorbike clubs and organizations that we engage.” Having already expanded to San Francisco since launching in spring, 2015 promises more exciting developments for CurbNinja. Ultimately, Fred and Tim would like to see CurbNinja expand to every major city where urban riders struggle with parking. Until then, users can look forward to next year’s update, which will include a Windows-compatible version of the app and a new revenue model, offering premium features in exchange for a small fee. <strong>CUSP</strong> MAGAZINE WINTER ’14 ISSUE 15