Dawn Dickson, the CEO of tech company PopCom, has been awarded the patent on the PopShop Kiosk, after nearly four years of development. Dickson calls the machine “iPhone of vending machines” because of how sleek it is plus other exclusive features.
She said in a tweet: “In 2017 I set out to create the ‘iPhone of vending machines’. I have always been inspired by @Apple when it comes to design. I am so excited to be awarded US Patent #D896310 for the PopShop, a digital pop-up shop with software to revolutionize automated retail @PopComSaaS.”
PopShop Kiosk is a “vending machine with a brain,” according to Dickson, which includes exterior cameras to anonymously collect customer data, including age, gender, emotion, and engagement. It also features a large display monitor to allow retailers to monetize their kiosks by selling advertisements and promoting products, according to PopCom.
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Inspired by Apple and their approach to design, the serial entrepreneur said it was her vision to change the nature of current vending machines and the way people interacted with automatic retail.
Previously, the tech genius raised $2.3 million in equity funding through crowdfunding. PopCom, launched in 2017 as a software company, has been building software for the self-service retail industry using artificial intelligence, face recognition, and more. Its smart vending kiosks allow brands to engage with customers, sell more products and understand sales metrics.
The goal of its recent crowdfunding campaign was to reach more customers, grow its operations, and meet the demand for more automated retail machines on the back of the pandemic. Entrepreneurs say self-service and automation are the future of retail, and amid the pandemic, Dickson believes that smart vending kiosks are one of the greatest tools for businesses following social distancing rules.
“While some industries are hurting, the requirement for social distancing validates the need for vending and retail automation. We believe that the market will continue to move towards self-service and contactless retail,” said Dickson.
“Vending machines and convenience services are becoming more essential, and retailers are looking for more ways to deliver their products direct-to-customer with less human friction. We are excited about what is to come.”
Dickson’s historic crowdfunding campaign was made possible by Regulation CF secure token offering (STO), a fundraising instrument that allows companies to secure investment from the general public, both accredited and non-accredited investors.
“It was important to me to be able to raise capital this way to build and encourage intergenerational wealth in often overlooked communities,” Dickson said. “I aim to bridge the gap between venture capital and everyday people.”
Dickson has been to school for Information Technology and served in the tech field for many years. Her belief, since she entered into entrepreneurship, has been to raise funds from her friends and family. As Black entrepreneurs usually find it difficult to raise money to launch and grow their companies, her story should tell many that different funding mechanisms like crowdfunding can make a big impact.
“The friends and family are us. It’s crowdfunding…,” she said.
PopCom has developed technology to securely verify customer identity, enabling the sale of regulated products including cannabis and alcohol in vending machines, it said.