Bleni Blends has brought something new to the vending machine industry. Instead of the usual snacks and drinks, their vending machines sell smoothies and iced coffees. Customers can choose from a variety of flavors on a touch-screen and have their beverage ready in a minute. Founders Peter and Stuart Shapiro pitched their product on Shark Tank and got a deal with Lori Greiner and Daniel Lubetzky. As of 2023, Bleni Blends is worth an estimated $3 million.
About the Founders
Peter and Stuart Shapiro are brothers from Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Peter has an MBA from Temple University, while Stuart holds a BSM from Tulane University. Both had promising careers before pursuing entrepreneurship.
At first, Peter was the VP of Enrollment Management at Tulane University, and Stuart was practicing law. They started working together in 2015, purchasing rental properties. The following year, they launched Robotic Desserts.
Founding the Company
With Robotic Desserts, Peter and Stuart gained a lot of experience using automation. Then, they wanted to venture into an untapped market by making smoothies via vending machines.
Their expertise led them to create Bleni Blends, a 12-square-foot touch-screen vending machine that prepares smoothies in 60 seconds. Moreover, the device uses fresh fruits and dairy-free ingredients.
The product was officially launched in 2019. One thing that made it stand out is unlike most vending machines, it doesn’t accept cash. They only allow cashless payment methods and can operate 24/7 with a low-time commitment.
Getting on Shark Tank
Bleni Blends started out in the greater Philadelphia area. They allowed people to buy their machines and operate them independently. Some also hosted their kiosks for profit without making a considerable investment.
Their top locations are gyms, malls, healthcare facilities, and universities. In some colleges, they allow students to pay using their campus cards. To help scale operations, the founders needed to raise more capital. In 2022, Peter and Stuart Shapiro got accepted onto Shark Tank after going through their rigorous application process.
After Shark Tank
Although the episode has just aired, the Shapiro brothers are prepared for a huge uptick in orders. The publicity from the show is huge as season 14 is averaging 3.5 to 4 million live viewers on ABC.
Bleni Blends has 50 vending machines available in 14 states with hospitals being their most popular location. If you’re interested in buying a smoothie vending machine outright it will cost you $30,000. In addition you will need to purchase the products from Bleni Blends. Also, to make financial sense, the machine needs to make around $2,000 per month.
The company sells seven frozen beverage flavors for around $5.50. The blends are also lactose-, dairy- and gluten-free. Unfortunately, there are no available customer reviews available online. The founders stated that they were in an unexplored territory after all. Regardless, their startup is worth an estimated $3 million.
It’s still too early to tell if Bleni Blends will succeed. One thing that might give them encouragement is the success of Vengo, a vending machine company that appeared on Shark Tank and is now worth $50 million!