Vending machines are low-risk and profitable businesses, but they can consume too much space. Steven Bofill and Brian Shimmerlik solved this problem by creating small but smart vending devices called Vengo. They pitched their business on Shark Tank and got a deal with Lori Greiner and Kevin O’Leary. As of 2023, Vengo is worth an estimated $50 million.
About the Founders
Brian Shimmerlik and Steven Bofill are both from New York, United States. Steven graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Brian has an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business.
At first, Brian was a financial analyst at JP Morgan until he became a senior associate at Emigrant Bank. But, as soon as he realized that this wasn’t the right career for him, he decided to intern at a tech startup called Conductor Inc.
In 2008, Steven founded and worked as the lead front-end developer for a web development firm, Scratch Interactive. A couple of years later, he was hired as a mechanical engineer at Sikorsky Aircraft.
One day, while working on his MBA, Brian Shimmerlik got stuck in traffic inside a taxi. The time he spent waiting sparked the idea of making snacks available everywhere. He partnered with Steven Bofill and a design team to turn his vision into a real product.
They came up with a vending machine that was only inches thick and occupied two feet of wall space. It was a built-in system with touch screen technology. Brian and Steven entered the NY Business Plan Competition to promote their business.
The pair and their tiny vending machines won first place. Using the prize money, they officially launched the company in 2012. It was initially named Taxi Treats and later rebranded to Vengo, a much better name.
Shark Tank Appearance
Brian and Steven appeared on Shark Tank in 2016, looking for a $2 million investment in exchange for 12.5% of their company. The aspiring entrepreneurs did a good job presenting their product and explaining the potential of their business.
However, after giving further details, the Sharks were not fully convinced, so Kevin O’Leary asked if they were in debt. After knowing that they were not, Mr. Wonderful made his usual proposal.
He wanted 6% of Vengo for a 3-year, $2 million loan at 7% interest. The entrepreneurs asked Lori Greiner if she wanted to team up with Kevin. The two investors ended up agreeing to the same loan agreement, but this time for 3% equity.
After Shark Tank
Unfortunately, the deal between the founders and investors never closed. Nevertheless, Vengo managed to survive and thrive. The appearance on the show made the startup popular enough that it inked a deal with Blackstone Launchpad.
In addition, the Hyatt Hotel provided the vending business with incredibly generous support for its expansion. In 2019, they raised $7 million from various investors, which included the likes of Gary Vee.
In 2021, Vengo placed over 1,500 machines in New York areas such as colleges, residential buildings, gyms, and public transportation. Currently, it’s making around $10 million to $12 million per year and is valued at $50 million.