Vending Machines Just Got a Whole Lot Smarter

The Gimme team just wrapped up Georgia Tech’s Startup Summer, a faculty-led, student-focused, 12-week intensive pilot program for student teams to launch startups based on their ideas, inventions, and prototypes. We caught up with one of Gimme’s founders, Cory Hewett, to give you the full scoop on this startup driven by a mix of five talented GT students and alumni.

Year/Date Founded:
May 2014

Cory Hewett (Co-Founder, CEO)
Evan Jarecki (Co-Founder, Software Lead)
Nathan Weiss (Co-Founder, Hardware Lead)
Sisi Huang (User Experience)
Peilin Li (Software Developer)

Funding or Bootstrapped:

Your Pitch:
Gimme is developing technology that enables vending machine owners to be more successful.  We provide cash accountability to track machine sales versus cash in hand, data analytics to make the most revenue out of their machines, and anytime, anywhere, access to this information. Our hardware plugs into a port just inside the door of nearly all existing vending machines and communicates with our mobile application.  Our app takes information from the vending machine and displays it for the owner in a way that is very easy to understand.  We provide the tools for vending machine owners to vend smart.  We are working with individual, small, and medium vending machine companies, who represent almost 90% of the industry.  This segment operates 4.5 million machines in America that are compatible with our technology.  They control over $11 billion in annual revenue… but with Gimme it could be much more.

How’d You Get The Idea For It:
In high school, I wanted to make some money to buy a car.  I decided to invest in vending machines and run my own route, so I could earn money even while I was in class.  It was a profitable venture, but it did challenge me.  After a few years of learning at Georgia Tech, I realized some of the technology I was learning about could have a dramatic effect turning the challenges into solutions.  Knowing that I couldn’t have been the only one facing these challenges, I started working with a team and we conducted hundreds of interviews within the industry.

Who are your customers and what do they get:
Our customers are owners of soda and snack vending machines equipped with the appropriate hardware.  Specifically: “medium” vending operators (1,000 to 10,000 vending machines), “small” vending operators (100 – 1,000 vending machines), and the “mom and pop” operators who own fewer than one hundred machines.

Who are your competitors and how do you stand out:
We’ve identified a clear niche in the market.  There are much larger incumbents that offer mature but expensive solutions to the very large vending companies and several smaller competitors that have offerings for owners to manually enter and track information.  We’ve been able to find a solution which bridges this gap and provides powerful data acquisition and analysis to the 90% of vending companies who make up the industry.

Revenue Model:
Our business is knowing the health of your vending route, not just selling hardware and software.  Our customers will pay an upfront initiation fee and a monthly access fee to retrieve their data, trends, and reports.

How does ATL weave into your story?
Vending owners here in the southeast have the greatest opportunity to benefit from our technology.   This region has the highest revenues per machine in the nation, but some of the highest levels of theft, gas expenses, and expired product.

Do you use any tools & services to manage your day-to-day:
I use my iPhone and an app called Things to manage my day-to-day activities.

Is there anything else you need (that money can’t buy)?
The biggest help right now is the great team I work with.  I feel privileged to be able to work with such bright individuals who made the choice to share my vision and bring disruptive technology to the vending world.

Why are you interested in startups?
The whole point of a startup is to bring something new to the world in some novel implementation.  I want to be a catalyst in the world and by their nature, a startup is the perfect vehicle for bringing positive change.

What projects have you worked on?
-Owner, DJ Phelix in high school (allowed me to win Youth Entrepreneur of the Year 2008)
-Owned a small vending route in high school as well
-Launched my first app (game “Warring States”) on Apple’s app store in 2012

What is your plan post graduation?
Two in my team have already graduated and made the decision to support Gimme full-time.  I’ve delayed my graduation in order to match their time commitment and focus on this startup full time.