In this edition of In Conversation, our interview series, we got talking to Mr. Varun Shah, the co-founder and partner at Vendo Systems, a Pune-based vending machine operator, who uses Vendekin Technologies’ smart and touchless vending machine technology in India to power his vending machines. Mr. Varun shares his experience of introducing smart vending to various residential societies and corporate houses, the challenges they have faced and what they look forward to in future with their smart vending business. Excerpts from the conversation:
Please tell us about your business. How and why was Vendo founded? Can you please tell us about yourself?
Vendo was originally the brainchild of Sohel, a dear friend, who I have known for 8 years now. Both of us had our own businesses, I was into the events industry while Sohel ran his rolling paper business. The pandemic-induced lockdowns made us realise that our current businesses cannot be run remotely. Sohel was looking for newer opportunities when one of his cousins introduced him to Aroon Khatter, founder of Vendekin Technologies. Sohel saw potential in smart unattended retail. and started Vendo in December 2020 and soon after in January 2021, I came on board. Since then, all our machines have been powered by Vendekin.
Why did you choose to go into the unmanned vending retail business over other opportunities in retail?
We saw that during the pandemic, people started taking their health and related safety precautions very seriously. We also noticed that there were no provisions for availability of essential products on a 24X7 basis. We saw this as an opportunity to introduce vending machines or unmanned retail as a solution that fills this gap, fulfilling the customer’s need for both safety and convenience. Powered by Vendekin’s intelligent vending machine solutions in India, these smart vending machines can dispense snacks, beverages and other essentials any time of the day or night. Plus the consumers can pay for it via cash or through a completely cashless and touchless digital transaction on their phones.
How many places in Pune are your vending machines located in right now?
We started off small with 3 smart vending machines. And now have 14 Vendekin-powered vending machines spread all across Pune in Maharashtra. This was possible because Vendo was handheld by Vendekin during its initial days in the industry on all crucial aspects. Our first installation was in a residential society named Rohan Kritika, followed by Rohan Mithila in Pune.
Apart from these, we have also manage some of the best digital vending machines in the Pune offices of Resalary and Webasto
Any key takeaways on your experience working with residential complexes vis-a-vis corporates?
Both were obviously vastly different experiences for us at Vendo. Residential complexes and their governing bodies require a lot more convincing and explaining on how the machine operates, its benefits and its ongoing usage and maintenance. Corporates, on the other hand, are familiar with the concept of unattended retail and vending, so they already have a budget for such installations. The large number of people in their offices, which in turn means high volumes, makes unmanned retail an ideal option. One benefit of working with residential complexes is that it gives us a chance to educate and engage with their residents, a majority of whom work with large corporates, and therefore could be future clients or decision-makers as well.