One way to maximize career potential in business, is to consider finding an entrepreneurial niche within the community. And sometimes finding that niche is as simple as finding a basic need in the community, like a parking spot, and being the one to fill it. Jeremy Smith, a University of Illinois graduate, during his short time in Chicago, amassed $3,500 in parking tickets. According to, there are five things that every great entrepreneur knows. One of those is that, “The secret to creating great products is deep empathy with your customers.” Smith felt the frustration that so many residents in major metropolitan areas feel when trying to park in the city, and through that experience, SpotHero was born.

(Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Smith)

(Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Smith)

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SpotHero is a company that helps users to find convenient parking in downtown Chicago, and other major metropolitan cities, at a discounted price. Jeremy Smith, Co-Founder and COO of SpotHero, achieved his bachelor’s degree in finance. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, attending college in-state, and then starting SpotHero in Chicago – Smith is a prime example of how an education can help prepare for a career in business and entrepreneurship.

What inspired you to enter this field?

“I left a job in corporate finance at Motorola and spent time living in Lakeview working at a pizza shop. While living in Lakeview, I got over $5,000 in parking tickets and decided there had to be a better way. I started selling parking spots for Cubs games and things took off from there.”

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How has your education helped in achieving your current role?

“My company, SpotHero, helps drivers find convenient parking spots and book them via mobile app for below the drive-up rate. We started in Chicago, we’ve launched in six other cities and we’re growing quickly. Founding a digital start-up requires a lot of selling and a lot of data-driven decision-making. My finance degree helps a ton with making data driven decisions as well as running our operations, and I am a natural salesman which helps too.”

What advice can you offer others looking to go into the field of business?

“Follow your passion, grow your network and don’t be afraid to make the leap.”

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Sara Lugardo is a professional writer out of Chicago, Illinois. She has a bachelor’s in communication and is currently working on her master’s. Her work can be found on