When Neil Mehta relocated from the US to pursue an MBA at the National University of Singapore (NUS), he had no intention of starting up his own business. 12 months later, he co-founded SurePark.
SurePark is an Internet of Things (IoT) smart parking platform which tells drivers where there’s a parking space available and how to get to it.
Part of the Singapore’s government’s Smart Nation Program, SurePark places wireless sensors in parking lots which transmit data on parking space availability to drivers direct on their smartphones.
This summer, SurePark represented Singapore’s IoT community at TiECON in Silicon Valley – the world’s largest conference for budding entrepreneurs – and were among only 50 of 2000 new ventures selected for TiECON’s startup awards.
Based out of the NUS startup incubator - The Hangar – Neil, and his business partner have spent the last 18 months building the hardware infrastructure to install in streets and parking lots across Singapore. Now, they’re ready to launch.
Prior to joining the NUS MBA, Neil worked for over five years as a hardware engineer in California. He chose NUS – ranked first in Asia and 12th globally by QS - over top business schools in the US and the UK. One semester into his MBA, the birth of Neil’s first of three sons coincided with the birth of his first business.
How did the idea to start up SurePark come about?
When I first came to Singapore, I didn’t know anything about Asia. It wasn’t my intention to start up a business.
A big part of an MBA is networking and meeting people. I was interested in automation and transportation. And networking led me to my business partner, who had been awarded a grant by the government of Singapore to make a parking reservation system.
I met him and we sat down and revisited the entire vision of parking. That’s where it all started for us.
What do you hope to achieve?
SurePark is my hundred percent right now. It’s my fourth child. We’ve designed a plug and play system that can be deployed anywhere in the world. We’re looking to grow and make an impact.
Now, we’re just beginning to launch commercially. We’re working on our first hardware instillation across an entire neighborhood in Singapore in order to make that parking smart.
How have you been supported by NUS?
NUS has played a significant role in getting me where I am today. NUS has a very good reputation locally and regionally. When you’re a nobody trying to start something, having that NUS brand opens doors.
I met my partner during my MBA. One of our first angel investors was an NUS visiting faculty member and alumnus. The NUS startup incubator has had some of the best exits in Singapore. I got to be part of that, and we got access to talent from the engineering school.
Plus, everything that I learnt at NUS was something that I realized I’d previously lacked. Every class was something new. For me, the value add was phenomenal.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at NUS?
I was looking to move from the US. I grew up in Asia, but I’d never worked here before. NUS is a great gateway to the Asia-Pacific.
While other programs are more rigid, NUS offered me the flexibility of doing the MBA in 15 months, two years, or more. My son was born in the first semester of my MBA. I started working on my business one year into the program. NUS allowed me to combine study, family and work.
The faculty and the quality of teaching is also very good compared to other schools. And NUS has some fantastic international exchange programs.
What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?
The MBA is your one chance to do the things that you never thought you’d do. Look at a school that’s outside your comfort zone geographically. Take the classes that you like, and jobs will come.