Profiles in Success

Mathew Magno | Japa Inc.

Park smart. Stress Less.

Mathew Magno combined his UC Davis education in computer science and technology management with his passion for entrepreneurship to co-found Japa Inc. with his classmate Charles Chen. “As a student it would take me 20 to 30 minutes sometimes to find a spot, circling parking lots and getting stressed out,” Magno recalls. “I decided to fix the problem of parking.” Magno is also the director and co-founder of PLASMA at UC Davis, the Aggie incubator that develops early stage startups into companies that can grow.

Japa—which provides real-time parking information through an app and website—took home the $10,000 first prize in the 2018 Big Bang! Business Competition as well as $2,500 and $1,000 microgrants in the Little Bang! Poster Competition.

Magno and Chen graduated that June and have dedicated themselves to Japa's continued growth. Japa won the 2019 Sacramento Kings Capitalize startup contest, has secured four new clients—SMUD, the City of Woodland, UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley—and has been featured on Good Day Sacramento.

image of two males standing in a parking garage with parking sensor technology
Charles Chen, left, and Mathew Magno at the Pavilion Parking Structure at UC Davis. Photo: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis
Briefly, what is your venture?

Japa is a leading smart parking company delivering smart data and advanced analytics to solve parking issues for our customers and commuters. Japa's pioneering technology makes the parking experience for commuters easier—while making corporate campuses, cities, universities and hospitals more efficient.

How does your innovation make the world a better place?

We started this as a classroom project at UC Davis, and we wanted to solve the problems of parking at universities. People don't need to waste time looking for parking, and parking lot operators need real-time data on every parking space. We solve those problems—and much more.

What was most valuable about participating in the Big Bang?

Big Bang! was a rewarding experience that exposed Japa to a large audience and provided our company with resources we leveraged to further our business goals to where we are today.

What are Japa's key milestones?

Since the Big Bang!, we have closed our seed round of funding, grown the Japa team, and expanded to new universities, cities, hospitals and even coffee chain drive-thrus.

What's next for your startup?

Next year we should have an even bigger team, closed our Series A funding, and launched our payment and reservation features. In five or acquired.

What's your single best piece advice for Aggie Innovators?

Be as likeable, knowledgeable, and transparent as possible. Never be afraid to ask questions and persistence is the key to success.