Hacker Dojo Executive Director, Ed Choudhry, is a busy person. Anyone who runs a non-profit knows lean budgets require lean staffing, which usually means that team members have to serve double-duty. “I was a one-man show,” admits Ed. As the only staff member, Ed spends a lot of time scheduling and giving tours to prospective members and event organizers, while struggling to consistently meet the needs of 220+ Dojo members.
Founded in 2009, Hacker Dojo is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides a space for people to connect, communicate, exchange knowledge and build things together. Part co-working space, part maker space, and part event space, the Dojo is open 24/7 for collaborative activities. Pinterest got their start here, using Hacker Dojo as their primary workspace, and hired both of their first two engineers from the Dojo’s membership.
As the place where startups get started, it’s important to provide open access for member-led classes, workshops, job placement services, investment, and mentorship. For the Dojo’s leadership, serving the needs of members and keeping the space safe and functioning smoothly around the clock is its top priority. As the only staff member, Ed spends a lot of time scheduling and giving tours to prospective members and event organizers.
So how do they run a non-profit on a tight budget that offers 24/7 access to services? After meeting OhmniLabs at a conference, Ed knew that a robot receptionist would help save him time without having to cut down on any services that were available to Dojo members.
Since November 2018, Ohmni has been a prominent presence at Hacker Dojo as the receptionist, tour guide, and security guard. Upon entering the space, visitors are greeted by Ohmni sitting at the front desk. Visitors tap a button and Ed receives a Slack notification that someone needs attention. Instead of hustling from his back office to the main entrance each time, Ed can dial into Ohmni to answer questions and guide visitors through the membership registration process.
Through Ohmni, Ed also gives tours to event organizers, sometimes remotely from home. Having Ohmni in the office means that organizers can schedule a tour on the weekend, instead of within Ed’s office hours. Event organizers also appreciate the ability to gain control of Ohmni to tour the space themselves at their own pace. The flexibility Ohmni offers fits perfectly into Hacker Dojo’s mission of keeping the space as open and accessible as possible.
For a space that is open 24/7, there are always security concerns. Without the funds to hire a security guard and not wanting to close the space at night or on weekends, Ed has been using Ohmni remotely to monitor the space. Members now use their RFID badges at the front desk more regularly since they know someone is watching. While the Dojo is open 24/7, members are not allowed to sleep there; if someone inadvertently falls asleep after hours, Ed spots them via Ohmni and gently nudges them to wake up.
The Ohmni Telepresence Robot has increased Ed’s productivity. “On average, I save about 3 hours/week using Ohmni,” reports Ed. That’s 144 more hours/year to focus on Hacker Dojo’s social missions of education and workforce development. In the future, Ed and his members look forward to building and adding more custom capabilities to Ohmni, thanks to the flexibility of Ohmni’s operating system. The robot has become an integral part of Hacker Dojo in its mission to provide an open space for members to build together.
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