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The Essential Machine

Student startup dedicated to safer, smarter, vending.

Richard Crabbe

  • Project Description

    The Essential Machine is a student startup dedicated to safer, smarter, vending. We are currently retrofitting vending machines in the Buffalo area with technology that facilitates transactions between vending machine users and owners. We are giving vending machines the ability to accept an assortment of electronic payment apps such as Apple Pay, Zelle and Venmo. We are also giving users the ability to watch ads in order to reduce the price of their desired product and locate vending machines near them. A picture can say a thousand words. Watch this video in order to see how an earlier version of our platform works: The Essential Machine is committed to ESG impact. This is why we are retrofitting current vending machines in the field. This will decrease our carbon footprint as well as lower the cost of our parts needed. In addition to this, we are partnering with companies and organizations such as FeedWNY and SharedMeals in order to provide healthier foods inside vending machines. Not to mention, our company is very inclusive and diverse. Our founder is a first generation black male. 75% of our team members come from minority backgrounds and we are mentoring two highschoolers. We have also assigned two of our female members with leadership positions. This past month we finished developing our prototype and we are currently targeting schools as our early adopters for our product. We are currently in negotiations with SUNY Buffalo and we will begin talking to Clarence High School later this month.
    The Essential Machine
  • Why is the timing right for your idea?

    Open up your wallet. How much cash do you have? If you said none you are not alone. According to The New York Times only 40% of Americans carry cash in their wallets, however, 82% of vending machines require cash base payments. This is a problem for vending machine vendors and customers because customers are unable to get their desired products which leads to owners missing out on revenue. After conducting extensive research my team and I found out that there is a huge demand for our product. After surveying 500 college students we discovered 100% of vending machine users want the features we are implementing inside current vending machines. We were also awarded the Audience Choice Award because of our solution to this problem

  • What is your competitive advantage?

    My competitive advantages are my teams and resources available. Over the course of one year, I have assembled a hardware, business, social media, and 2 software teams. In total I worked with over 20 students ,4 professors, and a countless number of mentors/advisors in order to bring my idea to life. All of my team members are regular users of vending machines and victims to the problem at hand. I work very closely with SUNY Buffalo's entrepreneurship programs. I have been granted funding and had the opportunity to connect with the owners of vending machine companies. I have also participated in several fellowships. The most notable being SUNY Buffalo's Fintech Design Challenge, GSV Ventures’ Summit, and Blackstone's Spring Fellowship

  • What will you do with $10,000?

    The $10,000 will be split four ways. 30% of it will go to building our advertising campaign, another 30% will be used to order the parts needed to retrofit vending machines, research costs, and the development of new software. The last 30% will be used to alleviate legal fees and the costs of developing an S-Corp. 10% of the prize money will be donated to FeedMore WNY and organizations fighting food insecurity.