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Introducing VengoLabs, the New York tech startup that brings online advertising to point-of-purchase kiosks

If there are any non-tech busi­ness­es out there who con­sid­er them­selves rel­a­tive­ly immune to dis­rup­tion by tech star­tups, they might need to think again. New York’s Ven­go Labs, which attract­ed the acco­lade of “NYC Next Idea 2012” from the NYC Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion just after its launch that year, is quite the non-tech dis­rupter, as it hap­pens. And most prod­uct man­agers would agree that a tech start­up that attracts $2 mil­lion in Series A fund­ing is per­suad­ing a lot of hard-head­ed peo­ple. It’s show­ing that it real­ly can bridge the online and offline worlds with its lit­tle glass-front­ed kiosks that fuse dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing with point-of-pur­chase vend­ing machines.

Inter­ac­tive retail 

The fund­ing, which was announced this week, comes cour­tesy of some pret­ty impres­sive names from the world of invest­ment, includ­ing Coinstar’s founder Jens Mol­bak, Nas and Antho­ny Saleh’s Queens­Bridge Ven­ture Part­ners, Brad Feld, Kens­ing­ton Cap­i­tal, Joanne Wil­son, Scout Ven­tures, Vec­tor Media, Tony Hsieh’s Tech Fund and crowd­fund­ing plat­form Seed­In­vest. The new cash injec­tion fol­lows seed-fund­ing last year of $1million, bring­ing the two-year-old startup’s total invest­ment to $3million.

Tra­di­tion­al prod­uct man­agers may seem a lit­tle sur­prised to find tech investors pour­ing funds into a vend­ing machine man­u­fac­tur­er; but Ven­go is tak­ing things fur­ther, allow­ing brands to cap­i­tal­ize on their exist­ing ad cam­paigns through the very mini-kiosk that’s sell­ing their prod­uct. Vengo’s lit­tle kiosks aren’t just vend­ing machines: they’re con­sumer engage­ment and inter­ac­tive sales plat­forms, too.

If our tra­di­tion­al prod­uct man­ag­er is feel­ing a lit­tle puz­zled as to how this might work, it’s pret­ty straight­for­ward. Ven­go takes a cut from the sales and from the adver­tis­ing that runs across the front of the kiosks. Present­ly, accord­ing to co-founder Bri­an Shim­mer­lik, the startup’s rev­enues are made up of these two streams in equal measure.

The future? 

There are about 60 Ven­gos scat­tered across NYC in venues like the IPG Media Lab, NYU, Fueled Col­lec­tive, Raven and Pro­Health. Between them, these loca­tions have attract­ed 280,000 active con­sumer engage­ments per month.

Long term plans may involve inter­na­tion­al expan­sion, but more imme­di­ate­ly the new mon­ey will be used to install Ven­gos in new mar­kets. The com­pa­ny is work­ing on plans to place them in a fleet of bus­es and in taxis, as well as devel­op­ing mobile and Bit­coin payments.

As Shim­mer­lik puts it, “We are cre­at­ing inter­ac­tive retail where it nev­er exist­ed before.”

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