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Bethlehem Startup is Revolutionizing the Information Kiosk Industry

By Colin McEvoy on November 26, 2018

The Bethlehem-based Hootboard has developed technology that customizes information kiosks faster, cheaper, and better.

The Bethlehem-based Hootboard has developed technology that customizes information kiosks faster, cheaper, and better.

A startup company based in a Bethlehem business incubator is changing the way people get information in hotels, schools, hospitals, and workplaces.

HootBoard, a new resident company at Ben Franklin TechVentures, has developed a digital concierge platform, providing informative hardware and software in public places the way smartphones provide information in the palm of a user’s hand.

In fact, HootBoard’s kiosks resemble oversize smartphones and are just as easy to set up and use. They can be deployed in a very brief amount of time, without custom development, and at a fraction of the cost compared with traditional kiosk solutions.

“HootBoard takes minutes to deploy, versus three or more months for custom-built concierge solutions,” said Satyajeet Shahade, co-founder and CEO of HootBoard. “Our technology is revolutionizing the information kiosk industry.”

HootBoard received a $100,000 investment from the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP), which operates TechVentures. HootBoard is the latest company to move into the technology-based business incubator, which is located on Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Campus.

HootBoard is the latest resident company at the Ben Franklin TechVentures business incubator in Bethlehem.

HootBoard is the latest resident company at the Ben Franklin TechVentures business incubator in Bethlehem.

BFTP/NEP helps early-stage technology companies and established manufacturers translate innovation into commercial success and economic prosperity. The organization creates and retains highly paid, sustainable jobs by investing in and linking companies with experts, universities, follow-on funding, and other resources to help them prosper through innovation.

TechVentures brings together entrepreneurs, a large network of experienced advisors and investors, and Lehigh faculty and students to accelerate the growth of the region’s technology economy. The incubator’s staff provide resident companies with management guidance, business planning, strategic planning, and marketing counsel, and connections to follow-on funders and assistance with funding presentations.

More than 40 firms have called TechVentures home in 2018, employing as many as 170 people. The incubator opened a new West Wing expansion last year, allowing BFTP/NEP to build on its history as a “job creation factory” by accommodating accelerating needs for incubator space that fuels economic growth.

Shahade has extensive experience in producing technology architecture. Prior to HootBoard, he led the design and build of big data warehouses for the financial services industry. He conceived the idea of HootBoard after he saw the business opportunity in directing students lost on a university campus.

HootBoard’s software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based kiosk operating system and applications platform dramatically simplifies the current approach to the deployment and ongoing management of kiosk assets. This platform eliminates custom development time and cost enabling third-party applications and by using a simple-to-post bulletin board system.

It also reduces the total cost of ownership by almost 80 percent, according to Shahade, who said HootBoard is the only kiosk provider that offers a free on-site trial.

“Our platform makes an information kiosk accessible to many organizations that could never afford them before,” said HootBoard Co-founder and COO Jose Larin. “The cost of using our software is $1,200 to start, as opposed to $25-30,000 for custom kiosk experiences.”

HootBoard has sold its products to Fortune 500 clients including GE, DHL, and Samsung; educational institutions like Texas A&M; and hospitality clients such as Accor Hotels. The product has international sales, including customers in Hong Kong, Australia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Guernsey, in addition to the U.S.

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