In 2020, the world was thrown into chaos by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused ski resorts to shut down. As the pandemic began to subside, ski resorts reopened, and a surge of people flocked to them. This influx caused parking issues and numerous accidents each month.
In December 2021, Keb Summers (Left), a computer science major at Arizona State University and a regular skier, approached Jay Surana (Right), another computer science major at Arizona State University, with an idea to rethink parking at ski resorts. They wanted to create an application that would allow customers to reserve a parking spot at any ski resort in the world when they buy a day pass or season pass. Currently, ski resorts do not have a way to track real-time parking lot status, causing miscommunication between employees and customers about parking.
Over the next few months, Jay and Keb started working on OpenLot, an application that would help customers reserve parking spots and track cars going in and out of the reserved parking area using computer vision technology. They conducted 49 interviews as part of their market research, asking people who had gone to ski resorts after the pandemic about their parking problems.
They enrolled in Venture Devils, a program at Arizona State University that helps start-ups with services to catalyze success. Jay also took Professor Sebold’s FSE 301 course on Entrepreneurship & Value Creation, which provided a roadmap for creating a start-up. They spent the entire fall semester working on OpenLot, with Jay creating an evidence-based pitch deck (EBPD) that outlined competitive analysis, go-to-market strategy, revenue model, GUI mockups, and Keb learning about the business aspects of the venture. Using their roadmap, Jay and Keb decided to expand the venture and do their Barrett Honors Thesis on OpenLot. With the help of a computer science professor, they would be able to create a properly working application for OpenLot.