Meet Cory Hewett and Evan Jarecki of Gimme Vending in Buckhead
Updated: Nov 27, 2019
Today we’d like to introduce you to Cory Hewett and Evan Jarecki.
Evan Jarecki dropped pretty much everything to co-found Gimme Vending. That is except his sense of adventure. Evan’s entrepreneurial tendencies began at a very young age when he started his own neighborhood landscaping business. Not exactly a summer job at the Ritz. While not an exactly glamorous career, it did teach him many things and definitely helped his summer tan. From there, Evan used his many talents in a variety of other jobs, including a seasonal warehouse packer for Savannah Candy Kitchen.
However, Evan’s childhood dream was working on airplanes at Gulfstream. So, you can image the happy dance that occurred when he was offered an Avionics Engineering Intern at Gulfstream. It was literally a dream come true.
While grass, weeds and candy didn’t truly reflect Evan’s passion (thank goodness) – which was engineering, his internship at Gulfstream certainly seemed like the perfect flight path for his future. After his second summer internship, Evan was offered a full time internship at Gulfstream in Dec 2013. He knew this avionics internship would end up being a real job after some time, so he accepted it. Evan wanted to have a job lined up before graduation and really wanted to work at Gulfstream. The paperwork was done. The job was all lined up. If you think you know where this story is going, think again.
During the internship, Evan met and worked with Cory Hewett, a fanatical like-minded entrepreneurial dreamer. The new business ideas they tossed around were endless.
So it was no surprise that just two weeks before Evan donned his cap and gown for graduation at Georgia Tech, Cory called him about joining the Startup Summer program (now called Create-X) at Georgia Tech to make one of those ideas a reality.
As usual, Cory had a vision, and this one was big…replacing handhelds with iPads in the vending industry. Cory laid out his idea for a tech startup, and made it clear that he was putting a team together. Startup Summer was just announced, so it was perfect timing. Cory told Evan, “If you’re in, you buy me a beer. If you’re not, I’ll buy you a beer. You have 24 hours to decide.” The deadline was that Friday.
What would you do? Here’s what Evan did.
He talked to his parents and his girlfriend. You see, Evan’s parents were ready for him to be “off the payroll”, so to speak. He and his girlfriend had arranged for an apartment. And, to top it all off, that internship at Gulfstream had just been upgraded to a “job”, an engineering job worth $70,000 a year!
Thankfully, Evan’s Dad had started a few businesses, so he saw the entrepreneurial opportunity, and was willing to help Evan make it work, and Evan was in. And that was the beginning of the Gimme story.
Evan and Cory were accepted into the Startup Summer program, Evan graduated from Georgia Tech with a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering, and the rest as they say is history…the product was created and sales began this year. With a hugely successful year under its belt, Gimme is on its way to the top. Drop the mic……
Cory Hewett is “Livin’ the Dream” One Vending Machine at a Time
Cory Hewett had a premonition about his future in high school, when he started running a small vending machine business…which was when the light bulb for the idea about Gimme Vending first came on. However, the road to a successful startup was—as with most start-ups—one crazy ride.
While Cory isn’t your typical techie startup founder, he’s always had a vision and drive, and knows how to think outside the box. Growing up, Cory had a mean talent for ‘spinning’ records and ran a DJ business called DJ Phelix, which earned him the “Youth Entrepreneur of the Year” by Junior Achievement in 2008.
An entrepreneur at heart, Cory has been starting businesses since elementary school. Like any typical kid, he started with a lemonade stand, but that’s where typical and ordinary stopped. In middle school he came up with the brilliant idea to produce videos of sporting events and sold the DVDs (pre-YouTube) to parents of school athletes. As you can imagine, it was a huge hit. He then started DJ Phelix and entertained audiences at dances and other events.
With motivation to buy a new ride, (what more motivation does a high school freshman need?) Cory started his fourth business. Unlike other teenagers working fast food for minimum wage, he had a better plan. He raised his first “Friends & Family” round of financing, to get started and purchased a vending machine. One machine led to 10 machines and Cory was hooked. He continued his vending business into college and interned at Gulfstream where he integrated interactive displays into the cockpits of new aircrafts…pretty cool stuff! So how does one go from lemonade, records, sports videos and aircrafts to running a vending technology company?
Wanting to learn more about launching and running a business, Cory started his college career at Babson, the country’s #1 school for entrepreneurship. However, he left Babson after a year when he realized he would graduate with over $200,000 in student loans, which would force him to get a j-o-b instead of actually starting and funding his own business.
Cory then returned home to Peachtree City, GA, where he dabbled in a few other businesses like wholesaling precious metals and flipping short sale houses. However, that was 2009. Let’s just say that wasn’t a fun ride. To save money, Cory ended up living in one of those houses he was trying to flip. The house had no floors, no water, and no heating or air. That was about the time Georgia Tech’s engineering program was starting to look pretty appealing.
Cory met Gimme co-founder Evan Jarecki at their internship at Gulfstream, and they both transferred into the EE school at Tech, but the idea for Gimme Vending was born at Gulfstream, while Cory was still paying his own way with the vending business. With his background in vending and the iPhone on the market, Cory knew there was a better way to manage vending machines, and an app was the perfect answer.
Cory then applied for Georgia Tech’s Startup Summer program, and worked Evan over pretty hard to convince him to be a co-founder. They succeeded in Startup Summer, and then won the TAG Business Launch competition. Gimme then landed its first customers, secured a $450,000 seed round investment led by SaaS veteran David Cummings, and the ride continues. Another fun fact: Cory names his motor vehicles.
He has recently upgraded from his motorcycle named Neytiri to a sweet new Audi, which he has named Giselle. Hang on, because if Cory’s history is any indicator, Gimme is going to be one great ride!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way? We’re very proud of the progress the company has made, and some tremendous yet unplanned things have happened along the way, but it has not always been a smooth road. Most recently, we’ve had to defend our Intellectual Property in federal court against another technology provider in the vending space. Under the guise of a partnership, they got access to our hardware and software, integrating it into their own solution. Thankfully we have great legal help and had already put in place patent and copyright protections that allowed us to reach a successful outcome in court.
It also hasn’t been easy breaking into what is a very traditional industry.
We began Gimme out of Startup Summer, now Create-X, at Georgia Tech in Summer 2014. We learned from hundreds of vending operators exactly what they were looking for before crafting Gimme into the award-winning technology it is today. That fall, we became an LLC. The biggest difficulty early on was hardware. We are a hardware-enabled-software-as-a-service (HeSaaS) company that needed a heck of a lot of money to create physical product — and patent it. We worked with Georgia Tech to build our first prototype, friends & family funding to build our prototype software, and vending industry funding (from a potential customer) to manufacture our first 50 hardware units.
Early on, Cory built up extremely strong relationships within our industry. This allowed our business to be creative in payment structures, like allowing us to “sell” units before building them, to ensure a return for our hardware providers and, of course, our early-stage customers. Today, Cory has a network of industry experts, investors, and advisors to help guide our business in a direction for growth in our industry.
Gimme vending is the perfect example of a technology start-up that has successfully transformed and revolutionized what has been a very traditional industry, underserved by their legacy tech providers. And, Gimme Vending is just getting started.
Since opening its doors in 2014, spending a year with customer discovery in 2015, and launching our product for sale in 2016, Gimme Vending has gone from “GT students” to funded startup with a patented solution, brand-name customers, and substantial traction. Since then, Gimme has acquired several large customers and brought well over 10,000 vending machines online to our solution with a backlog over 25,000 more.
The company obtained its first utility patent in early 2016, addressing a primary data challenge faced by the vending industry. The patent covers a communication device for vending machines and the method of using it for bi-directional transmission of data from vending machines and computing devices.
For years, vending route drivers and operators have been forced to use expensive, cumbersome and outdated technology that fails to serve their needs. And, vending company owners have had to rely on the handheld device to collect data that drives inventory restocking, scheduling, route planning, and cash tracking.
This technology replaces traditional corded handhelds, speeds service calls and eliminates the need for manual keying and transmits data instantly to headquarters. With the new technology, Gimme is turning traditional vending machines into data-producing, “smart” machines and helping vending companies save time and money.
Gimme’s technology scores each machine in the network based on the suitability of inventory to consumers on location and helps track what’s happening in the field, where the cash and inventory are, all in real time, without end-of-day downloading, synchronizing, or hand-keying.
Gimme Vending – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition? Gimme builds hardware and software mobility tools for better unattended retail management. Gimme’s solution replaces legacy handheld devices in vending, micro-market, and grocery environments to deliver insights into cash accountability, cashless reconciliation, inventory tracking, and consumer purchasing patterns. This translates into valuable improvements with reducing stock-outs and SKU-outs, eliminating unnecessary service visits, and streamlining warehouse product planning.
We generate upfront revenue through the sale of our patented hardware and recurring services revenue from our tablet, cloud, and server software offerings.
Our purpose is making unattended retail a reality.
For consumers, they will see this each time they walk up to a vending machine, glass-front cooler, or kiosk shelf and it is well-stocked with their favorite snacks and beverages. We do this by building technology for the operators of these unattended retail environments that answer the question of when to go to what points of sale, with which products, and how to best configure product arrangements.
Gimme’s features include visual product arrangements, real-time data syncing, and complete integration with their existing back-end warehouse software with 365/24/7 remote and onsite support. With a combination of our plug-and-play wireless hardware, tablet apps, enterprise cloud software, and on-premises server application, Gimme is transitioning vending operators off arcane and unreliable PDA-based devices.
Our brand promise is to build tools that are simple to use, fast to master, and inspire a sense of beauty.
We have five core values:
1. User empathetic, 2. Driven fiercely to win, 3. At-heart problem solvers, 4. Intrinsically and relentlessly motivated, and 5. Leaders and team players.
What sets us apart? We have ushered the vending industry into the digital age and are helping old vending machines compete with new “smart” vending machines.
Unlike its competitors, the Gimme allows for the collection of better data that benefits both the owner and the driver.
We developed a true plug-and-play solution that gives vending machine owners the ability to track cash, inventory, machine state and speed service calls, thanks to a pocket-sized device that transmits information instantly to handheld devices/mobile phones. This combination hardware/software solution allows vending companies to track what’s happening in the field where the cash and inventory are—in real-time, via the cloud—without downloading, synchronizing or hand-keying. The Gimme solution easily integrates with existing vending management systems and turns traditional vending machines into data-producing, “smart” machines.
How do we know?
Top New Product of the Year:
One way we know we have an advantage is that we received the new product of the year award for the vending industry in 2016.
Further vetting is that large vending companies are taking notice and are partnering with us for our unique technology. We have announced two major partnerships we have created in the past few months.
We announced an alliance agreement in April with USA Technologies (NASDAQ:USAT), a payment technology provider of cashless and mobile transactions in self-serve retail.
The combination of USAT’s ePort® cashless acceptance technology with Gimme Vending’s software can equip self-serve machines with cashless and online services capabilities that are integrated with wireless, plug-and-play technology that helps download DEX from the machines. The app then syncs vend visits in real-time with the operator’s existing vending management system to populate large picture displays through a user-friendly interface. Gimme’s wireless DEXing solution eliminates additional expenses and investment in expensive handheld DEXing devices for its customers.
And in March, we partnered with Cantaloupe Systems, the vending industry’s premier provider of cloud-based mobile technologies.
The partnership allows Cantaloupe to integrate Gimme Vending’s cutting edge Bluetooth technology into its front-end driver software, Seed Mobile, expanding new capabilities to its existing solution.
What are you most proud of? Cory’s response:
Our team! Our team works so hard to build empathy for our customers and obsesses on ways to make their experiences working with us even better. Everyone on the Gimme team is an A player and provides something unique and irreplaceable to the outcome.
We wouldn’t be here today without everyone that pitches and sacrifices to be here every day.
What is “success” or “successful” for you? Cory: Before Evan and I started the company, we had an in-depth discussion on what we wanted beyond any profession or particular startup. We are doing this to leave a legacy. Through intense effort and focus on quality, we wanted to build high quality tools that benefit niche markets and the people within them. When customers tell and us demonstrate that their lives are different, for the better, then we feel comfortable that we are building a legacy based on leaving a tiny corner of the world a little better place. As it happens, we see that as success.
Address: 3423 Piedmont Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30305