London’s first on-demand valet parking service launched by Saïd Business School alumnus

An alumnus of the MSc Financial Economics (MFE) programme, Robin Doble, has co-founded new venture Vallie, an on-demand valet parking service in London which is the first of its kind in the UK.

Doble and co-founder Nash Islam found that the average motorist in the UK wastes 106 days on their life looking for parking spaces, and that parking in Europe generates EUR 45 billion in revenue every year.

‘Parking is an activity that punctuates nearly every journey a car driver takes,’ said Robin. ‘It’s frequent, and frequently painful! Nobody likes to spend time looking for parking, parking at a distance from their destination, or suffering parking tickets. Vallie takes all that stress away.’

The app allows customers to drop their car off at any location within the City, where qualified Vallie drivers will collect and park it in a commercial car park featuring CCTV and security barriers, all as a result of a few taps on a smartphone. The car’s location can be tracked on the in-app map, and will be returned to the customer’s chosen destination within 20 minutes.

After undertaking a maths degree at Bristol, Robin took the decision to follow in his father’s footsteps and attend Oxford University. Following a Masters in Economics for Developing Countries, Robin enrolled on Oxford Saïd’s inaugural MFE programme. ‘It was a hugely appealing opportunity,’ said Robin. ‘I wanted a springboard into finance, but had a strong interest in entrepreneurship; I also knew I wanted to be surrounded by a diverse mix of people. Oxford Saïd ticked all the boxes: I got an international cohort; to mix and share ideas with the MBA class; to be taught by the exceptional finance faculty; and to take advantage of centres like the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. I developed incredibly strong networks which I still use and value today.’

Robin used his MFE to work in the City, where he spent seven years as a trader at Barclays and later in sales at Credit Suisse. His interest in start-ups persisted and Robin decided to switch careers and study at tech boot camp Makers Academy, after which he launched his first business, ‘It was whilst prepping for investors with Nash in March 2015 that we hit upon the idea for Vallie,’ Robin states. ‘We were discussing the on-demand economy, and parking tech more specifically. We decided on-demand valet parking was a huge opportunity and that we could fundamentally change car owners’ relationships with parking. We got working on Vallie immediately.’

Vallie is currently available in the City of London, but Robin and the team are keen to expand: ‘we have designs on growth outside the UK in other large cities in Western Europe, potentially competing in the US and looking at emerging market opportunities.’