Have you ever asked a stranger if you could borrow a phone charger? After launching at Cornell this month, Vengo Labs hopes you won’t have to anymore.
Vengo Labs has partnered with the Cornell Store to offer phone chargers, Advil, and more to students on the go through new high-tech vending machines. Unlike traditional vending machines, which are large and bulky, Vengo machines have a small, compact design so they can be mounted on the walls of high-traffic locations. Currently, Vengo has machines in 12 campus locations, including Appel Commons, Clara Dickson Hall, and Robert Purcell Community Center.
“People aren’t going into stores as much and purchase habits are changing,” said Business Development Associate Aaron Coven ’16. “Commerce needs to come where people spend their time, so we go into the places like gyms, colleges, and hotels where consumers are already going.”
Vengo’s size advantage isn’t the only thing that distinguishes it from other vending machine companies in the market. Vengo machines feature a 21.5” TouchScreen display, offer multiple forms of cashless payment, and can play sound.
“Our screens are engaging,” Coven added. “We put funny content up, get people immersed in what they’re being shown, and try to keep everything interactive.”
Thus far, the market has rewarded Vengo’s innovation. In 2016, Vengo appeared on Shark Tank and struck a $2 million deal with Kevin O’Leary and Lori Greiner. The company also built partnerships with big brands, like Hershey’s and Kiehl’s, and has a presence at several other colleges, including NYU, Quinnipiac, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Coven believes this is just the beginning.
“We have the opportunity to transform retail. The impulse purchase is getting crushed, but we place contextually-relevant products in key locations. In gyms, for example, we’ll do a ton of headphones, locks for lockers, protein bars, and other things people need when they’re there,” Coven explained. “There are a lot of interesting trends going on right now, and we’re really well-positioned to capitalize on changing facets of commerce.”
Beyond that, Coven recommends that any student interested in entrepreneurship work at a startup.
“I love working at startups, and working at Vengo particularly, because, as someone who just graduated from college, I get to do all sorts of different things. No day is completely the same,” Cohen raved.
“As an alumnus, it’s been great working with the Cornell Store and seeing it come to life. I think everyone’s super excited. We’ve seen some great results in the first week or so, and we’re excited to see it continue.”
For more on Vengo, visit the website.