Description: Urban Vendor is a convenient good health company offering snacks, beverages and care products in earth-friendly KarmaBoxes. Now with Karmatunity, you have the opportunity to own a healthy vending business! Opportunities: Single and multi-unit opportunities available throughout the United States and worldwide in many countries. Business Type: Business Opportunity. Minimum Cash Required: $32,400. Home-based: Yes.
We offer a 5% discount on the first-time fee to qualified military veterans.
Interview with A.J. MacQuarrie: Founder and CEO of KarmaBox Vending
KarmaBox Vending has the Karmatunity you've been craving — and that consumers have been craving too. KarmaBox's state-of-the-art branded vending machines provide convenient healthy food to customers across the U.S. and Canada. But just that isn't enough for this healthy vending business; KarmaBox Vending aims to double in size within the next year!
In this Success Story Interview, we catch up with A.J. MacQuarrie, the founder and CEO of KarmaBox Vending. He gives us valuable insight into the vending industry, vending technology, and the profitable KarmaBox Vending business opportunity.
Can you tell us a little about the history of KarmaBox Vending and the part you play in the business?
I'm the founder and CEO of KarmaBox Vending. We were the first boutique healthy vending company on the market. We're rapidly expanding across the U.S., and we're now in Canada.
The idea for KarmaBox came to me seven years ago while I was in my dorm room at St. Francis Xavier University, in Nova Scotia. Like a lot of people, I gained weight after I started college, but then I began shifting my mindset, working out and changing my eating habits. I took a job as a spin instructor at the local gym and that led to me becoming even healthier.
I noticed there wasn't anyplace to get healthy food conveniently on campus. Snacks were everywhere — you could find all kinds of candy, chips, soda- but you couldn't find healthy snacks. This was in the middle of the rise of the healthy eating trend — which has only grown — and I realized there was a need in the community that I could fill.
I started out as an operator. I got my own machines and my own locations, and that was the birth of the business. I stocked them with protein bars and granola bars, pita chips, nuts and fruit, unsweetened iced tea- all sorts of healthier, heartier alternatives.
Right at the start I also realized that vending machines aren't branded, so they don't stand out. When you think of vending machines you think Coke, because that's the logo the machine has all over it. But Coke is not a vending company. Healthy vending machines needed a look of their own, they needed a brand. With that idea in mind I figured the best way was to turn KarmaBox into a business opportunity model.
What can you tell us about vending technology?
The technology is getting a lot better for the operators. For instance, all our Healthy Vending packages come with cellphone technology that sends operators daily reports on credit card sales, cash receipts and inventory from each machine. That creates a lot of efficiencies for our operators, who know before they get to the location what they need to bring. In turn, that's great for their bottom line, and saves them time and overhead.
The location – a hotel, university or community center, for instance – also benefits. Their KarmaBox machine is going to have a better selection of products and they won't have to call the operator to come and restock empty coils.
It's also a perk for the customer, because the operator will have better insight into what their customers want and can fill more coils with the products people are looking for.
Operators can also create wifi hotspots on their KarmaBox machines if they choose to enhance customers’ vending experiences in, say, a small break room or meeting room.
What are some trends to keep an eye out for within your industry segment?
The entire healthy vending trend is growing exponentially and KarmaBox operators are riding the wave.
The technology in the vending industry is just going to get better and better. We're young, ambitious and growing, and so we're riding this technology wave by developing KarmaCloud Analytics to provide our operators with everything they need to support their success.
The other trend is touchless transactions, where you make purchases without another person being involved. Eventually vending machines will accept iPhone or Android payments, there will be mobile interaction and a lot more apps compatible with vending machines. Imagine when you buy a granola bar from a KarmaBox and the machine is able to send that information right to your Fitbit, which instantly logs your snack into your nutrition log. Also I see nutrition information becoming more readily available to all customers right from the machines themselves.
And culturally, more locations are accepting healthy vending as a way of life these days. For instance, most companies have wellness programs and now look to provide employees with healthy vending options as part of a conscious effort.
How competitive is the industry? How does KarmaBox Vending set itself apart from the competition?
The healthy vending industry is definitely competitive, but it's certainly not crippling and there are tremendous opportunities. The beauty of healthy vending is that it's not mainstream yet. The market is far from saturated, so location procurement isn't an obstacle. We find people are really open to the idea of having healthy vending machines available for their customers, students and guests. We get calls every week from people seeking healthy vending machines in cities where we don't have any operators yet. So there definitely are plenty of opportunities across the country to have a KarmaBox business.
Another thing setting KarmaBox apart is that we're the only healthy vending company where the CEO meets with every operator and spends a whole day with them, answering their questions, sharing insights, and getting to know them. I want to provide boutique services, that's why personal interaction is so important. We build relationships with people, true, genuine relationships. Customers can pick up the phone and call, and they know I care about their success.
How long does the startup process typically take?
The startup begins with the first phone call. We start doing initial territory research on the market and locations. We'll have a few more calls together and then it's decision-making time.
Once you make the decision to go with KarmaBox Vending we immediately start making things happen. For example, we order all your KarmaBoxes to get manufactured — they're built in America — and while that's happening we start calling locations. We begin with 700 leads in the system and our in-house locator calls and sets up appointments.
In the first few weeks we'll be making traction on the territory. Overall, the process is very smooth - once we get a location, we have the operator check it out. If they like it, we get their KarmaBox installed and their business is set up in that spot. We build their business up for them as we get the rest of their locations.
Tell us about the day-to-day activities of someone running a KarmaBox Vending business.
The beauty with this business is that it's so flexible. An operator's day-to-day activity really depends on how you want it to run.
The first thing every morning, an operator gets all the information about cash sales, credit sales and inventory levels. That way you can see where you need to go and restock coils, and you'll also know what items are popular at each site so you can better serve your customers.
A lot of our operators have full-time professional jobs and run their KarmaBox business in the evening because it doesn't take much time and the flexibility it affords as a business is amazing. Of course, the more machines you have the more structured your day is probably going to be.
What's next for KarmaBox Vending in terms of expansion?
Within the next year we anticipate doubling the amount of cities we are in across the country.
As we continue to grow our operator base, we're developing KarmaCloud Analytics to enter the technological side of the business. This complementary software system will give operators suggestions on how to increase profits from their KarmaBox machines. It's going to significantly improve our operators' experiences with inventory management and logistics.
Simply put, while the technology is getting better in vending, we know there's still work to do and we want to be part of building these smart inventory and logistics solutions for our operators.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Now, more than ever, is the best time to get into the healthy vending business.
The trend of touchless transactions is only growing. Vending and machine-to-human transactions are becoming the new norm because they are just so quick, convenient and easy, especially in these times of on-the-go chaos in people's lives.
Healthy vending is such a great business to get into right now. It offers customers convenience at the leading edge of healthy eating and being eco-friendly. That’s why you should partner with KarmaBox Vending.
For regular vending machines, selling candy and soda, the market is saturated. That's an old business model and the best locations were snapped up a long time ago.
It's a very different landscape for healthy vending, where locations are wide open. At KarmaBox, we get it. We're nailing some large contracts with schools, hotel chains, and as we do we're becoming recognized as the brand that offers terrific healthy options.
GREAT! WHAT'S MY NEXT STEP?
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