Merchandising machine for wholesome health snacks within the Klang Valley
Most snacks sold in convenience stores are typically high in sugar, sodium, or fat. I’ve had my fair share of sugar sparing periods where the best solution was not to buy anything sugary. Finally out of sight, out of mind.
But Geoffrey (Geoff) and Heywood had a different view of it. While vacationing in Chalong, Phuket, fitness fans were impressed with the healthy snack options, from keto coffee to protein smoothies and milkshakes.
Additionally, something as simple as a frozen yogurt store would print out the nutritional information of each item on its menu for its protein, carbohydrate, and fat content.
They thought, “There has to be a convenient way to bring these healthy snacks and drinks home. Why did we have to order online, wait for weeks and pay ridiculous shipping costs? “
This gave rise to the idea of founding a vending machine shop with myFITBOX that offers healthy and nutritious snacks.
Flying with the plan
The myFITBOX team / Photo credit: myFITBOX
Within 2 days, Geoff and Heywood drafted their marketing plans, including the logo of myFITBOX on the flight home from Phuket. Then it came down to reaching out to the grocery brands they liked, speaking to gym owners they knew and of course vending machine companies.
“To be completely honest, we didn’t give too much thought or do our homework when we founded the company! In hindsight, it was probably better that way first to take the opportunity and then figure out how to do it later, ”Geoff told the Vulcan Post of her market validation.
myFITBOX picked up speed in a gym for the first time in January 2020 as its team already had connections in the fitness community. As the adoption rate increased, they received inquiries from other sectors such as shopping malls, international schools, and sports facilities.
“For example, the founder of the Oasis International School heard our interview on the radio and wanted to offer the students at his school functional and healthy snacks,” recalls Geoff. The timing was also right, because the opportunity corresponded to the intention of the founders to expand the myFITBOX network beyond the fitness community.
While myFITBOX has different agreements with the fees required to operate in different premises, the business works mostly on a success basis with the locations.
In addition to providing customers with access to healthy snacks, the profit-sharing model allows businesses to generate an extra income to cover the cost of the machine, but more on that later.
Test everything in terms of taste
The products sold in the vending machines are both locally produced and sourced internationally / Picture credits: myFITBOX
In the myFITBOX machines, customers will find both locally produced and globally recognized brands such as Myprotein, Grenade and Barebells. The duo found that their snacks review process is their favorite part of the job – tasting everything.
New brands are discovered through their own shopping trips, suggestions from customers or brands that approach them for R&D purposes.
“It is more important to us to taste the products and study the nutritional values carefully. We work with the authorized dealers or the manufacturers themselves to make sure they are real products, ”they explained.
If necessary, the team will even send the products for a lab test to confirm that all ingredients and nutritional information are as stated.
myFITBOX trades with its brands via 3 methods – direct purchases, shipments and machine lists.
With direct purchases, the team buys the products in bulk and increases their prices based on their judgment of the products’ fair value. For shipments, suppliers are only paid after their products have been sold.
Brands going through the machine listing method will be charged a listing fee based on where they are placed in the machine. That means brands can choose how many columns they occupy in the machine and in which row they are placed. This method can generate more revenue if placed strategically, usually on an equal footing.
A self-sufficient machine
Some products in myFITBOX / picture credits: myFITBOX
As mentioned earlier, while vending machines can be an extra income for businesses, having one still requires an investment. The cost of electricity for a vending machine can range from RM 90 to RM 100 per month as it uses LED lights and a cooling system.
Geoff also pointed out that vending machines can be expensive and heavy to operate, taking into account maintenance costs and manpower to troubleshoot malfunctions. However, he is grateful to be able to report that the income from each myFITBOX unit is generally sufficient to cover maintenance costs over a period of 1-2 years.
Although most of myFITBOX’s machines are currently offline, devices in shopping malls are still working as people are still going to supermarkets. Selling the company online through its Grab Mart, Shopee and Lazada website is currently helping him weather the waves of uncertainty amid the MCO.
However, maybe keeping your head above water is an understatement. The team announced that due to the strong growth in online sales and careful management of operating costs, myFITBOX is now profitable.
Under normal circumstances, their 30 vending machines in Klang Valley would generate an average of RM2,000 to RM2,500 per month per machine, excluding online sales.
“We bought more machines to bring in after the restrictions were lifted and we are still on target to meet our 200 machine target by the end of 2023,” Geoff said, adding that he is looking to expand to other Malaysian states as well .
The long-term goal of the team is to also produce a wide range of myFITBOX products. It’s best for those around the world who value healthier alternatives in snacks and drinks.
- Find out more about myFITBOX here.
- You can find out more about other Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Heywood (left) and Geoffrey (right), co-founders of myFITBOX