Developers Build for the New Normal: Qaunain Meghjee

June 25, 2020
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Qaunain Meghjee.jpg

The tech incubator Level39 is situated in the heart of London’s Canary Wharf district, occupying four floors of the One Canada Square building, the third tallest skyscraper in Britain.

On an average day, more than 1,200 people pass through Level39’s doors to work at one of the 200 businesses located there. Level39 will welcome another 300 daily visitors: guests of member businesses, event attendees, and diners at its bar and restaurant.

It’s a lot to manage.

“If you imagine it, we've got six front of house staff,” said Qaunain Meghjee, head of technology at Level39. “It’s myself, different members of the tech team, and colleagues from other teams — all ensuring everything runs smoothly across our multiple floors.”

It’s important to make sure that only the right people have access to the right places in Level39’s facilities. Each of the 200 member businesses has its own staff with its own natural level of turnover and growth, and Meghjee’s team handles the onboarding and offboarding. Then, guests must be approved not only by the front of house at Level39 but also by the staff at One Canada Square. If a guest arrives and their host isn’t available or if an appointment time has changed, it’s up to Level39's team to sort it out.

How do you scale a process like this to serve more than 1,500 people every day?


Using Twilio’s Voice, SMS and SendGrid APIs, Meghjee built a contactless visitor check-in system that integrates with the building’s visitor management system and Level39's systems. Gone are the days of juggling schedules or trying to track someone down to notify them that a guest has arrived. Now, a Level39 member can simply register their visitor online via the Level39 web portal or mobile app, adjust their schedule as needed, and when the visitor arrives, the visitor enters a unique one-time code into the tablet at the door. This notifies the host via SMS, phone and email, all without a Level39 staff member ever getting involved.

The fact that this process is contactless put Level39 ahead of the game this spring as the United Kingdom issued social distancing guidelines to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“Many companies are still figuring out how to handle this, from what we've been seeing and hearing,” Meghjee said. “They are getting new systems, figuring out what to do, what to change and they’re adding hardware. We just have to make sure each active employee of our member companies has a profile on our portal. The portal then allows members to dynamically create auto-expiring visitor profiles, which grant one time access to our location. They don't ever have to physically get close to our staff and all the other bottlenecks are removed.”

Thanks to the contactless entry technology at their facilities, Level39 has been able to remain open 24/7 throughout the COVID-19 crisis to allow essential employees and their visitors to be at their workstations.

“Some of our member companies here are working with big banks, or they're working with massive corporations, or are involved in key cybersecurity technologies that require them to be in the office,” Meghjee said. “If we didn't have this, we wouldn't be able to stay open during COVID-19.”

Level39 contactless check-in screen
Level39's contactless visitor check-in system.

Leading digital transformations

Fascinated by computers since he was a child, Meghjee began his career in digital marketing, building websites and marketing collateral. There, he’d pick up skills that would help him in the next phase of his professional life, managing product creation and automation.

Most recently, he worked with the National Health Service to help modernize and digitize their training processes for surgeons.

“They had a lot of manual processes,” Meghjee said. “So I was figuring out the ways where we could digitize what they're doing on the training side of things.”

The modernization effort focused on moving non-essential lessons out of the classroom and into the digital space, making it possible for the NHS to train more surgeons more efficiently. With COVID-19 now limiting the number of students that can be in a classroom at once, there is an even greater need for this type of digitization in the NHS.

“Recently, they were just saying, ‘It's great that we managed to digitize how we train, but now we need to scale it up much further,’” Meghjee said.

Level39 contactless check-in schematic
Wireframe design of the check-in system.

Now at Level39, Qaunain streamlined the visitor check-in process. He also led the modernization of the company’s billing system, implemented an emergency SMS messaging tool (leveraging Chrome, Zapier, and Twilio SMS) and improved the onboarding process for employees of Level39 member businesses.

Anytime a member business brings on a new employee, they’re required to go through a facilities onboarding session. “Here are the fire exits, here are the restrooms, here are the coffee machines, here’s where meetups take place” and so on. Problem is, it can be hard to get new employees to show up for these.

Using Twilio SMS, Level39 uses text message prompts to get new employees to not only sign up for onboarding sessions but also keep their appointments.

"Twilio's API connected perfectly with our onboarding calendars and allowed new members to sign up for onboarding sessions," Meghjee said. “Then, the day before the onboarding session, new members automatically get a Twilio reminder. What this means is, we had six front of house team members chasing like 50 to 60 new hires each month to do calendar bookings for them.

“That's such a time-consuming and laborious task, and people were still missing their sessions. This just automated the whole lot. People now get Twilio text messages to make them select an available slot and they get SMS reminders based on what they selected.”

Contracts and video conferencing

With the success he’s seen with the visitor check-in, billing and onboarding solutions, Meghjee is now underway building an SMS reminder system to improve time-to-close on open contracts and boost the overall client experience.

“I think that will close a lot of loops, because it means our member management teams won't have to do as much chasing with busy tech CEOs,” Meghjee said. “When they speak to these companies, it will be less about ‘Yeah, have you signed this contract?’ and you can be more personal, which is how the team prefer it.”

Qaunain is also planning on integrating Twilio SMS with Level39’s Zoom Rooms to make it more seamless for member businesses to do video demos with outside guests. The plan is for Zoom meeting IDs to automatically send via SMS to all attendees and visitors that were added to a meeting room booking via the Level39 portal.

In his spare time, he’s been taking online courses with Harvard in computer science and UC San Diego on mobile app and VR development as he looks for new opportunities to improve the member and guest experience at Level 39.

“The good thing with this is, whenever I do something, it's not just one company that benefits. It’s over 200 companies that benefit,” Meghjee said.