Accelerator Center

Accelerator Center

Innovation involves thinking about the big picture: the product, the service, and the customer. If your business is supporting innovation, like at the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo, Ontario, sometimes you’re so busy expanding your services and connecting experts with clients that the little things become harder to manage. 

Over 130 early-stage technology startups

Since opening its doors in 2006, the Accelerator Centre has nurtured over 130 early-stage technology startups in the Waterloo region, creating over 1100 jobs, and generating over $120 million in revenue. Some of the Accelerator Centre’s most notable grads include: Kik Mobile, Clearpath Robotics, Miovision Technologies, Axonify, and Magnet Forensics. In order to nurture even more companies, in August of 2015 the Accelerator Centre opened a major expansion -- Reactor -- to help expand the number of startups it could help. However, integrating Reactor with the Accelerator Centre’s regular activities meant the need to segment out its work space from its meeting, education, and networking spaces. 

Opening a new startup hub

Although the opening of a new startup hub signals a huge gain in potential for the Accelerator Centre, it also means the in-house experts have begun to rely more and more on interactive touchpoints to deliver their services smoothly. According to Emily Jackson, Manager of Operations at the Accelerator Centre, the centre’s smooth operation relies on a sign-in tool. “We have an application where companies or visitor sign in when they arrive. The app registers people’s names, records their parking information, and sends an e-mail to the people they’ve come to see to let them know their visitor is there,” said Ms. Jackson. 

Bringing visibility to digital touchpoints

The problem was that their previous visitor management kiosk wasn’t visible enough to get the job done. “We had a previous option, but it was a simpler solution: an arm attached to the reception desk that swivelled around and housed the tablet,” said Ms. Jackson, who noted that “people who forget to sign in have sat there waiting for a while before their meetings start because the people they’re meeting don’t know they’re there.”

Now, the new Reactor location uses an Armodilo Sphere to house its tablet-powered check-in kiosk, while the busier Accelerator Centre uses an Aura. “Both are being used for the same thing,” said Ms. Jackson, “the Reactor facility doesn’t have as much flow-through activity, while the main building is the hub of activity, so there’s lunch-and-learns, there’s outside events that take place there, there’s events that we host there, there’s an open meeting space, and graduates meet in that space.”

How can a simple pair of kiosks help innovation happen? According to Ms. Jackson, “We needed something that was a little more visible when you walked in. Our previous solution sat as an addition to the reception desk, so it didn’t catch your eye when you walked in. The Aura, quite obviously catches your eye.” Now, with the Aura on site, “people are less likely to get parking tickets, and less likely to sit in the networking area waiting for the person they’re there to see.”

Ms. Jackson was most impressed by how Armodilo’s approach to its kiosks offers the right solutions for the right categories, and offer additional flexibility to lengthen the lifespan of their solutions. That’s why so many Accelerator Centre clients have been asking her about them. “The best thing about Armodilo,” Jackson said, “is that the product doesn’t require a lot of assembly, [and] it’s very portable. With the Aura…it catches the eye [and] you can change the branding. If the purpose of the tool changes, you can very easily adapt it.”

Time is precious in the startup world

Armodilo’s tablet stands and kiosks have helped make the business at the Accelerator Centre move even more smoothly. For the Sphere in the Reactor, “the ease of being able to position it is wonderful,” Jackson said, adding “I have even used it for Skype calls.” In the busier main building, Jackson remarked that “it makes life easier for the person at the front desk. They’re not chasing down people who’ve blown past the iPad to register. It’s a hectic building, and the AURA simplifies life.”

As a display solution, the largest benefit Armodilo has brought to the Accelerator Centre has been the visibility of their products. “Time is precious in the startup world,” Ms. Jackson said, “Things are always moving and changing. There’s new clients coming and going all the time, and so you really want to be able to rely on your tech working. It’s a huge thing to not have to worry about the app breaking, or people not seeing the iPad to sign in. It’s one of those things to simplify life, and it seems quite simple, but it’s really quite valuable.”  

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