The vending machine industry is like an old kitchen rag: dirty, fragmented, and clinging to the past. Atlanta-based Gimme Vending is bringing these relics into to the 21st Century with their innovative technology that allows owners to understand what’s happening on the backend. Originally focused solely on the hardware (check out our previous coverage here), Gimme has evolved into a full software system. With their rapid growth and focus on a ripe market, it’s no surprise that the Gimme team recently won the TAG Business Launch Competition (three cheers guys). We figured it was time to catch up with our favorite hardware-enabled vending machine B2B software supply chain technology founder from GA Tech, Cory Hewett.
“We’re gaining traction and know what our trajectory needs to look like. We got our second customer, Atlanta-based Eagle Vending, right after the TAG event where we won $50k in cash. For us, there’s a lot of opportunity to deploy that money. We hired a full time employee and we’re now up to 5 employees. We need to get more hardware ready for customer number 2, so the money was great for that; it sped up that process for us. It’s great being able to focus even faster on our technology,” says Hewett. “Evan and I come from the engineering field and are obviously really excited about the thing we’ve built. We’re like, ‘This thing we built plugs into machines and it’s awesome!’ But, we realized that nobody else really cared so much because we hadn’t yet made a system that worked. For us, it’s not so much that we’re building different technology, but it’s more the software that allows machine owners to do so many different things.”
“We are a customer of Gimme Vending and are moving forward with a evaluation of their system to determine the efficiencies and time savings over our current procedures to make our route drivers more productive.”
–Jimmy Bryan, Owner of Eagle Vending
The Opportunity for Gimme
“When looking at the vending machines owners, Coca Cola, Aramark, and Sodexo own about 10% of the vending machines in America. Everyone knows them; they’re huge. But, they’re not the majority,” he explains. “At the base of the pyramid, half of the entire vending machines out there are owned by individuals, like mom and pops, which is where I got started in high school. The remaining third is our target market/sweet spot. These are folks who own 500-10,000 vending machines. For these guys, one of the biggest concerns is not understanding what’s happening in general. Typically, they don’t know where their cash is or their product is. As it’s a cash business, there’s theft that occurs and there’s so much falling through the cracks because they can’t keep track of it all. Gimme allows the machines to talk to each other and talk to their owners so they can keep track of products and cash.”
Gimme’s only competitor in the industry is an ancient piece of technology from the Reagan Administration. “For data capture, there’s one device manufactured by Motorola that everybody uses. It’s from the 80’s and it’s terrible,” jokes Hewett. “About half of our target market uses that product and their level of satisfaction is really low. We, on the other hand, plug into the existing software systems as a new mobile data capture device that is always connected, tablet-based, and highly graphical.”
Today’s Old, Wired, & Complicated Handheld: the Motorola Symbol
What Makes Gimme’s Tech-based Solution Unique
Gimme recently acquired an accelerated utility patent filed on its hardware and is also in some licensing talks as well, “which is a great validation that our hardware is a good product,” he says. “But, our software’s always getting better. We’re not just telling vending machine owners, ‘Oh, we can do this one thing or this one thing.’ We’re telling them, ‘We can really give you all of the information about what’s happening in your route.’”
“Our software answers these fundamental questions for vendors: How many machines do you have? Often times, they don’t all know the answer to that question. Where are they? How are they doing? What’s inside of them? When’s the last time somebody visited them? Are your customers happy with what’s inside of them?” states Hewett. “By answering those questions, the strength of our system comes from being able to make suggestions about what you can do with each of those pieces. How do you make sure that your drivers are carrying the right things when they refill them? How do you make sure there are always honey buns in the machine for Bob, who really likes to buy them? Some of those things, for the very first time, will be able to be answered.”
Going forward, Hewett and the Gimme team are looking for funding. “We received a little bit of seed money from Startup Summer and have also raised $150k,” he says. “We just started looking for another seed round.’” He plans on competing in more pitch events this Fall and is also hiring (check out their available positions here).