When Rabih Helou first saw the vintage gold lettering on the glass windows of his new co working space, the name would became obvious - The Beauty Shoppe.
Four years after setting foot in the East Liberty office, The Beauty Shoppe have expanded to over 25,000 square feet of space and grew to a little over 200 members.
After experiencing KISI in another co-working space, Helou knew he had to try KISI for his own co working space.
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Sq ft covered: 25, 000 sq ft
Office usage: 200 KISI enabled members
- Enables integration and API
- Manages operations and access centrally
- Automates members onboarding
- Provides easy access tiers
We sat down over a phone call with Rabih Helou to find out how he’s using KISI.
Tell me a little about The Beauty Shoppe. How did you get started and where are you now?
The Beauty Shoppe started off four years ago in a little 2000 sq. foot space in what used to be an old beauty shop. There was beautiful old gold ribbon fonts on the wooden frame windows that said “Beauty Shoppe,” so we took that name for ourselves. The building has been demolished, but we maintained the windows and the name. The building is in a pretty, bustling neighborhood of Pittsburgh called East Liberty, where we started from 2000 sq. feet to 4000 sq. feet. We would eventually grow to 25,000 sq feet with a little over 200 members.
Right now, we occupy two different spaces in two different buildings. In one of the buildings, we’re on four different floors and inside the buildings, there are private offices.
When did you know it was time to look for a new access solution?
We got a lot of doors and locks and a lot of people coming in and out. At one point, we had so much traffic that we were losing track of keys and it was costing us time and money. Having to give out a physical key to every new member was a nightmare. People would cancel membership and keep the key with them, so we decided to move from the key system to a keypad system.
Even so, the keypad does not provide any type of security because we still had to manage people’s unique codes. Additionally, people were sharing the code and accessing the space. We had no control over who was accessing the space and any stranger could have accessed it without our knowledge. When we became aware that there was no security measures implemented and there was a lot of physical work involved in updating these things, we knew it was time.
Any horror stories pre-KISI?
At some point, I had a paper bag full of keys as I had made 150 copies of a key which would be passed out. But we switched from a traditional key system and now we have a bag of unused keys sitting in a drawer somewhere. It’s like the skeleton in my closet.
What problems were you hoping to solve with KISI?
I wanted something that could be controlled with our phone and something that is scalable, not something that would lock us into physical hardware. With Kisi, it enabled us to manage everything centrally and that was the key for us.
If we wanted to scale our access management system, we got to the point where needed our member management services to happen with the least amount of human touch points. It doesn't matter if you're 20, 30, 50, 70 people, but after a certain size, you really got to minimize how much time it takes for you to bring people on and off.
KISI is a central component of that. All aspects of member on-boarding should be completely automated. The key aspect and benefit of KISI is to automate on-boarding of members, all the way to the locks.
Why did you decide to try out KISI?
I’ve been keeping an eye out for phone-enabled lock systems for at least a year prior to that - on email lists for Kickstarter and reading the news, and I was waiting for my product to be delivered. It looks like the company seem to be stuck somewhere in production.
Meanwhile, we heard about KISI a couple of years ago from a contact who was opening a similar type space for a non-profit in Pittsburgh. He came in from New York after meeting with the KISI team. KISI was a smaller company in New York that had a functioning product which works brilliantly. So we went with KISI and we have since shared KISI with at least half a dozen people.
How did things change with KISI?
KISI did a couple of things. There’s the obvious advantages of having a centralized Dashboard that gave us the ability to add and remove people pretty quickly and easily.
There’s a qualitative addition in that we use it as a showpiece. When we are giving new members tours, it allows us to communicate that we are thinking a lot about the space and how we leverage on innovative technologies to maximize their use of our space. That says a lot about us, on how we want to present ourselves to the marketplace, and how we deliver services to our members. That was unexpected, how impressed potential members were with this product.
How are you using KISI in your space?
We use KISI to enter the main door of the building, so members can tap in. We also use KISI for the main door on each floor and sometimes the private office doors is KISI enabled.
Kisi allows us to enable member-specific restrictions. In a big open space, we want to limit access for certain days and times for security purposes. If a customer don't have a desk in a particular open area, then they don’t have access to the space. Having customer-specific restrictions means we’re able to maintain some portion of the space as public space. That way we are able to offer temporary keys to non-members who want to come in and use the conference room for the day.
What’s your favorite thing about KISI?
I like the fact that it was hosted on a managed system and the device is separate from the lock. That allows us to essentially connect any lock we’re using to KISI and any hosted software on the backend.
The possibilities [with Kisi] are limitless. You can use the API. You can connect various systems, like our membership services, to the lock. You can check in and check out of the space using KISI. It is the ability to expand and build on the system that i found most interesting. If you were to replace your lock with a lock that’s controlled by a phone, you would get what you can do with the rest of the providers. But KISI is closer to the Internet of Things. The possibilities are endless here.
We started working with KISI two years ago. We were pretty comfortable with the fact that as Kisi grew, so would we. Responsiveness early on was key for us. Any time we had a problem, I got a response. Phone call, email, text message, whatever, our questions were answered. it gave us confidence in the product. If we were to bet on somebody, it would be these guys. We feel like we made the right choice.
To whom would you recommend KISI?
“KISI IS NOT JUST A SOLUTION FOR CO-WORKING AND LANDLORDS, IT’S A SOLUTION FOR EVERYBODY.”
I would recommend losing physical keys completely for anybody. Kisi essentially replaces your physical keys and integrates into your smartphone. And I want everything to be on my phone - my keys, my friends, My smartphone is my access to information of any sort. My communication and security is another aspect of that. It should all be in one central place that’s somehow secure and connected to me as a person.