Volume 22, Number 54 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 21 - 27, 2010
Photo Courtesy Alliance for Downtown New York
Jason Richelson (left) and Cameron Peek (middle) of shopkeep.com speaking with the mayor on May 12th at the Hive.
A new space and a new product share the limelight
BY John Bayles
It has been a busy couple of weeks for the Hive at 55, a new workspace on Broad Street for freelancers. Mayor Bloomberg stopped by last week to see the cutting-edge facility and to praise both the entrepreneurial spirit it fosters and the freelance industry it supports. Then on Wednesday night the space hosted a launch party for one of its tenant’s products, a point-of-sale software program for retailers.
“[Shopkeep.com] is the first real company to have a launch here at the hive,” said Hive at 55 Director Daria Siegal. “And that is really important to us because we want to support the companies that work here.”
The Hive opened its doors in December of last year and is sponsored by the Alliance for Downtown New York and the NYC Economic Development Corporation. The majority of the office space is leased to tenants on a month-to-month basis with no real commitment.
“It’s based on how often people need to come in,” said Siegal. “We’re catering to the way that small businesses and freelancers operate.”
Shopkeep.com has been leasing Hive space since last April. Prior to that, owner Jason Richelson was primarily working from a back room at his other business, the Green Grape, on Liberty Street. And it was the Green Grape, which also has a location in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and Richelson’s own struggles as a small business owner that led to the creation of shopkeep.com.
“The technology that is out there for small retailers to run their stores is like 20 years old,” said Richelson. “I was upset that I could never see what was going on in my store without running the reports through the old system. I was like, well there has to be someone doing this on the web. I looked and there was nothing.”
That was his eureka moment and shopkeep.com was born. In a nutshell it’s a simple way to run a register, track sales tax, keep track of your customers and track inventory.
“It’s a retail management solution that is simple and accessible,” said Richelson’s colleague Cameron Peek. “It’s centered around a web-based point of sale manager that allows owners and mangers of retail stores to run their stores from the web so they don’t have to be tied to the store’s physical locations.”
The web-based software program is also convenient for business partners.
“Its easy for everyone to see how the store is doing,” said Peek. “It’s information that can be shared up to the minute, rather than having to have every person ask the accountant for reports from the last week.”
And the selling point is that shopkeep.com, when compared to other similar point-of-sale programs like Quickbooks’ Intuit software, is nearly dirt-cheap. According to Peek, Intuit would cost a retailer $900 up front and then an additional monthly cost of anywhere between $500 and $2,000. Not to mention, one would have to make an appointment for someone to come in and set up the program.
With shopkeep.com, that entire model, from payment to installation, is transformed. Peek said they have run some numbers and determined that a retailer could have shopkeep.com for almost 19 months before approaching the type of costs associated with one month of Intuit or its equivalent Microsoft program.
“We’re doing away with the [old model],” said Richelson. “If you want [a program] to do the basic things that a retail store does, and you want to pay $50 a month, then go online and go to shopkeep.com.”
And should a retailer choose Richelson’s new model, the first month is free.
On Wednesday night, upwards of 75 people attended the launch. A gigantic screen was set up, shopkeep.com was used to manage the sales of wine and beer and attendees were able to see the program in action. As people purchased drinks at the bar, shopkeep.com displayed a running tally on the screen. All proceeds from the wine and beer sales went to the charity projectshunshine.org.