Where we talk to “Big Cheese” and find out a little bit about who they are and what company they are with.
The choice of who you do business may come down to the look in the eye and a simple handshake.
Ten Questions for Mike James with Kiosk Group:
1. Kiosk Industry Group: What is your company name, location and your position?
We are located in beautiful, historic Frederick, Maryland, an hour outside of Washington and Baltimore, home of Francis Scott Key, and just miles from Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry, and Antietam.
I am the founder and president of Kiosk Group, Inc.
2. Kiosk Industry Group: How is business these days?
MJ: Business is great and growing steadily.
In July of 2010, we came out with the first commercial iPad kiosks and decided to invest heavily in this narrow segment of the kiosk industry.
We have developed a modular system of iPad and tablet kiosks that are the true heavyweights in this niche. While there are many manufacturers in this field that go the cheap route, producing low-quality kiosks that are ultimately not durable or secure, we’ve taken a different approach. Our kiosks are “real kiosks” (to take the words of just one of our satisfied customers), made from milled industrial-grade thermoplastics and heavy-duty, welded rolled steel, and made the way kiosks are supposed to be made.
We created the Kiosk Pro line of iPad kiosk software to make sure our customers had something to run on our kiosks. Kiosk Pro is now widely recognized as the best software for this type of application and tops the charts for the term ‘kiosk’ in the iTunes App Store with over 75,000 downloads.
Today we are very busy with both off-the-shelf and custom order kiosks, and our biggest worry is keeping enough product in stock.
3. Kiosk Industry Group: What is your most popular product?
MJ: Our iPad Standalone kiosk is by far our most popular single product.
We’ve been able to create quite a number of accessories for this model, including branding options, credit card readers and even motion-controlled illumination systems for rear camera photos and barcode scanning.
4. Kiosk Industry Group: How large a company are you?
MJ: Believe it or not, we are just 10 people today. We outsource metal bending, painting and plastic work to four nearby fabrication facilities, so we keep our overhead very low and can offer great prices on our products. Our in-house staff is responsible for software development and support, product design and prototyping, branding, minor CNC machining, quality control and order fulfillment.
5. Kiosk Industry Group: How many years have you been in business?
MJ: I started my business with an Apple II, purchased in 1977 (which I still have). I have a background in developing industrial films and programming multi-projector slideshows and saw computers as a better way to deliver media content. I was able to code control of a 12” laserdisc player with the Apple II via RS-232 and, in 1981, hung out my shingle developing interactive content for sales and training.
This small start expanded into a company with 35 software developers — Multimedia Software, Inc. We developed many hundreds of interactive programs, including World’s Fair exhibits, Amtrak’s ticketing kiosks and training programs for Chrysler, IBM and many others.
After selling MSI in 2001, I studied the market, determined that the kiosk industry was where everything was heading and launched Kiosk Group, Inc. We’ve been designing and selling kiosk hardware and software ever since.
6. Kiosk Industry Group: What is your biggest market(s) or skills focus, or do you have multiple?
MJ: In terms of markets, our kiosks are used in every discipline. It should be easier to name the markets we are not in, but I can’t think of any. Seriously.
We focus on creating the best interactive touch-screen kiosks available. Whether that means taking on a new software feature request or building out a custom hardware configuration, we do what it takes to make each project a success.
7. Kiosk Industry Group: What are the strengths of your company?
MJ: Innovation. Innovation. Innovation. We focus on coming up with the right products, and having the right solution already designed when a new customer calls us with a tough requirement. No other iPad/tablet kiosk seller does this.
I’ve also got a great team of people working with me. Each and every person has multi-disciplinary talents and is driven to grow and succeed.
Having metal-bending and other fabrication out of house has been a terrific asset. Most traditional kiosk companies mark up their cost of touchscreens, computers and peripherals at 100% to cover the cost of a large crew. With our low overhead, our average markup from wholesale is just 28%.
8. Kiosk Industry Group: What market trends can you share with us?
MJ: The next step in the small form-factor kiosk world is the addition of peripherals beyond basic card readers and keyboard trays. Look for the integration of thermal receipt printers, card-stock ticket printers, barcode scanners, RFID readers, ApplePay, EMV SmartCard readers, PIN pads – the list goes on and on.
This is where you’ll see a separation of the serious kiosk manufacturers from the quick-buck, plastic-injection-molded iPad kiosk sellers.
We’re also going to see an end to the made-in-China housings offered by many iPad kiosk sellers. The tablet market is changing so fast, you need a system for managing hardware change. With the introduction of the smaller-sized Apple Air tablets, we’re already seeing a large number of sellers dropping out of the business, and leaving their customers without support.
9. Kiosk Industry Group: What new products might we see in the next year or two from your company?
MJ: In the short-term, look for Bluetooth printer integration for all of Custom America’s thermal kiosk printers (//www.customamerica.com/) into our Kiosk Pro Enterprise iOS app.
We have been hard at work on a new system for kiosk customization and delivery for the past two years.
Imagine placing an order for custom kiosks with your own branding and a wide choice of screen sizes and peripherals – previously this meant weeks or months of lead time and a price tag to match. With our new system, you can have this type of custom kiosk at low cost and delivered within a week!
We’re going to deliver this new development in early 2015. Prepare yourself for the next industry revolution!
10. Kiosk Industry Group: For more information who should people contact?
MJ: I’m always available at [email protected] or you can call me at 888-569-5467 x101.