- Founders: Alessandro Ursino, Alessandro Bruno, Francesco Pepe, and Alberto Luison.
- Founded in: 2020
- Employees: 7
- Money raised: 300,000 euros in the early and pre-seed stages.
- Ultimate goal: integrating VADO software into as many vending machines as possible.
VADO is the acronym for Vending Automatic Delivery Operations, and that says it all about the company. The Italian start-up developed software that allows vending machines to sell their products through the main delivery apps. Innovation Origins spoke to Alessandro Bruno, one of VADO’s co-founders, who explained how his company found a way to do that.
What is your start-up about?
“Our software connects vending machines to delivery services. It currently works – in the cities we are active in – with Glovo, Uber Eats, and Deliveroo.”
How does it work?
“The customer, while browsing through the several stores in one of the apps, can find ours as well. Then, as the order is sent to the system, the delivery app transmits – via our software – a message to the vending machine, which books the ordered products. It means that before the rider comes, those items can’t be bought, as the machine knows that they have been already purchased. When the rider arrives, they fill in the delivery code in the machine.The vending machine then supplies the items and a bag, so that the rider can easily complete the delivery.”
What are the advantages and the strengths of VADO?
“Riders are happy since they don’t have to wait in line for too many minutes – seeing they get paid depending on how many deliveries they make. We don’t have to worry about having somebody who has to prepare the orders, because the vending machines can sell online and offline. In addition to that, they work as fridges, keeping the products at the right temperature. Furthermore, we are always active, even on bank holidays or when other services are not available. Most importantly, I and the other founders have a background in delivery services companies. We know all the flaws in the process, and we can help the riders through our customer service. They often think they were given a wrong address when they reach the vending machine.”
How did the idea come about?
“I used to work in a wine delivery company. It had its own app where customers could order something to drink. Orders were managed from their own storage, with people preparing the ordered products, and riders that took care of the deliveries. What I noticed during my time there was that the business wasn’t that profitable, as the employees’ productivity rate was low. They sometimes had to wait for hours before getting an order. I thought it was time to automate this process, but the only way to do that was through huge automated warehouses – too expensive for small-sized businesses. Vending machines sounded like a good idea. Therefore, together with the other founders, I got in contact with a manufacturer, and we developed the first prototype. In May 2021 we opened our first franchise in Turin, where customers can buy offline as well as use using one of the delivery services.”
Does your system have any other potential applications?
“It could also work with lockers. Bigger products could be sold, which opens up new possibilities for other companies. Our system could take care of the last mile between the locker and the customer’s home.”
“As of today, our own vending machines are in 4 Italian cities – Turin, Milan, Rome, and Salerno. In addition to these, 5 customers have integrated our software into their vending machines. From May on, the first three Spanish customers will start using our software. In the second part of 2022, we’ll start focusing on pharmaceutical products. This segment of e-commerce grew significantly during the pandemic. It represents a good opportunity for us since most pharmacies already have a vending machine where products can be sold that don’t require a prescription.”