It was not too long ago that Marcus Gram was on a mission to find success as an entrepreneur. But today, three years after launching his vending machine business, Gram is projected to make more than $500,000 this year and is positioning his business for further expansion.
“People love vending machines because they’re convenient,” Gram told CNBC Make It. “Not many people know that anyone can own them. There are low startup costs and potential for high return.”
At just 31 years old, Gram is the owner of Joyner Vending, a business stocking machines in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Detroit. When he began his business in 2018, he earned $4,000 for the year. By 2021, he was making over $300,000.
Dreams of Entrepreneurship
Although Gram has found great success with Joyner Vending, being a business owner was not always easy. It was just a few years ago that Gram was a music producer earning $30,000 a year. He decided to move home with the intention of finding a profitable industry to make an investment in and save money.
Within nine months, Gram saved $10,000 and relocated to Philadelphia. One day, when he saw a woman depositing cash into a vending machine, Gram decided that he needed to learn more about the industry.
“This started as a side hustle and it became my life,” he told CNBC Make It
Just four years later, not only is Gram operating vending machines, he is also teaching others how to launch a business in the industry by hosting free and paid webinars.
“I do the free webinars because I know my audience,” Gram told Blavity. “I know while many are interested, they don’t have money to start at the moment. The training can spark their mind. Some are able to walk away feeling completely ready to start [a vending machine business]. I do offer a paid course for those who want to get more in-depth information [too].”
Vending Machine StartUp Tips and Costs
Gram launched his business with $4500 purchasing two vending machines and card readers. He learned early on that to be profitable in the business, required some strategy.
Gram offers the following advice:
- Never purchase a machine until you have a location. The cost of purchasing a vending machine can range from $1000 for a refurbished machine to $10,000 for a new machine. The average cost for a new machine is between $3500 to $5000.
- Location is everything. Foot traffic is everything. Apartment buildings, hotels, student housing and offices are great spaces for vending machines. His machines at Temple University’s Student Housing for instance, average between $800 and $1300 per month.
- Vending machines can be purchased at warehouses, Craig’s List, eBay, and even Facebook Marketplace.
“By being in the vending machine business and finding the success I’ve been able to change my life and my family’s life,” Gram told CNBC.