PopCom is an automated retail technology company that has built a SaaS & IoT platform for vending machines and kiosks that provides deep consumer insights and engagement for machine operators. The company is seeking investment to help solidify its strong position in the industry as well as fund new development of new blockchain-enabled software that will enable consumers to securely buy government-regulated products (e.g. pharmaceuticals, cannabis, alcohol) from vending machines and ensure retailers stay compliant.
Learn more and invest at www.StartEngine.com/PopCom
I stay motivated by… focusing on my customers and providing them with a product I know they want.
Three adjectives that describe me are… tenacious, focused, fearless.
If I could have dinner with one person it would be… Jack Ma, I am fascinated by his work as co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba. His vision for what he calls 'the new retail' is what inspired me to create PopCom.
The most exciting innovation to me is… facial recognition and biometric technology and how it can be used to improve our lives. It can also be dangerous if used in the wrong way and that is why we utilize blockchain to keep our customers data secure.
If you were a book, which one would it be and why?
If I were a book I would be The Four Agreements because this is the foundation of the way I live my life. The foundation of 'be impeccable with your word", 'don't take things personally", "don't make assumptions", and "always do your best" are the keys to success and happiness in life.
How did you come up with your business idea? What inspired you?
PopCom is a company that was born out of necessity. I created the company after my own struggles to find vending machines that could sell my roll-up flat shoes called Flat Out of Heels (flatoutofheels.com) at high-traffic areas like airports and nightclubs. Also absent was the data I relied on to track and monitor traffic and conversion rates through my ecommerce website including analytics, email collection, retargeting, remarketing–arguably the tenants of successful sales growth–were not possible with traditional “dumb” vending machines. I interviewed over 100 retailers and vending operators to see if they experienced the same challenges and the response was overwhelmingly 'yes' so I then assembled a team that came together to help be bring my vision to life....smart hardware and software to sell consumer products...that is when PopCom was born.
Was it difficult get capital/investors? Has anyone underestimated you as a female entrepreneur? If yes, how did you handle it?
I have raised over $1.5 million for my companies Flat Out of Heels and PopCom, I will admit raising for the tech company was MUCH easier than raising for the consumer product company. When I first started raising money in 2011 I was able to secure money from friends/family in the form of angel investments because I was told by many VCs that they do not invest in consumer products and especially not in shoes. I was able to grow the business from the angel funding, winning cash in pitch competitions and through customer sales until I received my first VC check from Backstage Capital in 2017. My tech company was a lot easier to raise money, especially after going through the Techstars accelerator, but I still had big hurdles to overcome because most investors are reluctant to invest in hardware and don't know much about the automated retail industry.
I have consistently been underestimated as a female founder, a black woman, and a 'non-technical' founder and had to go above and beyond to raise capital and to prove that I can grow my company, I was also lied to by several investors about their ability to provide follow on funding and growth support. I handle this by doing things my way.
After raising over $900,000 from VC for PopCom I decided to take another route for our next round and open the company up to the public to invest in the form of equity crowdfunding. We are currently raising $943,000 on Start Engine and have passed $115,000 with 43 days left in the campaign. The public response to the campaign has been great, and although we still have a long way to go to reach our goal I feel that we have already won because what we are doing is ground breaking for the culture.