How H.U.M.A.N. Is Breaking Through As the Next-Generation Snack Machine This vending company reinvents the business by stocking health and information. Plus, a look at other game-changers in the health space.
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Sean Kelly was a die-hard New York City gym rat back in 2003 when, after a particularly tough workout, he found himself in a quandary.
"I left the sports club in search of fuel, but couldn't find anything healthy for five square blocks," Kelly says. "There were white tablecloth restaurants, convenience stores and bagel shops."
Later, when Kelly saw a woman in the gym walk over to the vending machine, buy a 20-ounce Coke and put it in the cup holder of her treadmill, his fate was sealed. "I looked at that and said, that doesn't make sense," he says.
So Kelly founded FitFuel, a company that at first was dedicated to offering vending machine owners healthful options, but it soon morphed into a fitness e-tailer that eventually went bust. In 2007, Kelly was still transfixed by the idea of getting more healthful options into gyms, schools and office buildings. That's when he returned to his original idea and founded h.u.m.an. (helping unite man and nutrition) Healthy Vending. He developed partnerships and redesigned the vending machine from the ground up before launching in 2009.
So what do these next-generation vending machines look like? They're big, but 30 percent more efficient than older versions. All the lights are LEDs, and instead of corkscrews awkwardly dangling bags of chips, Kelly's machines use conveyor belts. They also take credit and debit cards.