PORTLAND, OR -- The inventor of the VendScreen Revolution smart device for vending machines has abruptly left the company he founded. Paresh Patel said his departure as chief executive of VendScreen Inc. was sudden and brought on by decisions from new investors. Patel is now spearheading another technology venture, called VendNext.
VendScreen did not say who is running the company. Vending technology pioneer Glenn Butler, VendScreen's chief technology officer, remains with the company, which said he's collaborating with the board on a strategic vision for the business.
Patel said the VendScreen experience taught him about the startup culture and has given him "a new clarity that many founders learn the hard way." The vending tech startup announced an $8.4 million funding round in December, following a prior $6.3 million investment.
"VendScreen was a thrilling ride that quickly evolved from a development company into an operating company in under a year," said Patel. That experience inspired VendNext, which he predicts will take vending to a new level by providing a rich consumer experience using personalized data and purchasing options on smartphones.
Because VendNext will enable end users to communicate with vending machines through their smartphones, operators will be able to run contests and promotions, and collect pertinent data for themselves and advertisers. The technology will include features to organize profiles, favorite locations, loyalty, nutrition and other applications with advertisers and partners, according to Patel.
"VendScreen brought existing vending machines into the much desired digital age with features such as cashless acceptance, nutrition information, advertising and promotions, and data to improve routing efficiency, inventory control and merchandising," Patel observed. "Now the industry is talking about minimum calorie disclosures. But we're concerned with the end user's experience beyond just calorie counting."
Patel said VendNext is in the initial development stage but is already attracting interest in the vending community. He is targeting a fall launch for VendNext.
Patel also owns Courtesy Vending, the largest independent vending operation in Portland, OR.