IRVINE, CA, September 12, 2013 — LikeUs Network (http://www.likeus.co), a vending machine hardware company, revealed itself to the public at TechCrunch Disrupt SF yesterday. LikeUs Network is approaching vending in a new way: People don’t always have correct change, dollar bills, or even a credit card, but they do always have their mobile phone. Our device makes buying a drink or a snack as easy as playing Angry Birds on your iPhone.
The LikeUs Network device requires little effort to install into vending machines: simply plug the device into an open or split MDB port. Straightaway, the device connects itself to the LikeUs secure network allowing you to instantly start accepting payments. With the LikeUs payment solution, you do not have to change a single setting on the vending machine. The customer is able to determine how much payment will be sent to the machine through the LikeUs app.
LikeUs Network was born on an extremely hot August afternoon on Katy Trail in Dallas, TX. One of the founders, Ray Hernandez, and partner, Steven Ray, were out on a jog in 105 degree heat. Halfway through the run, they came across a vending machine and stopped, only to realize that neither of them had their wallet on them. But they both had their phones. A lightbulb went off above Ray’s head. That same day they bought an old 70’s Dr Pepper machine, an Arduino (with a tutorial book), an Android Tablet, and installed a very simple Android app that Keyston (founder) made in about 5 minutes.
The device has come a long way since that hot summer day in 2011. Since the initial prototype, LikeUs Network secured a seed round of funding from billionaire Mark Cuban. With that initial funding, they were able to take the mobile payment device from duct tape to production ready.
Social media currency:
There is more to this device than meets the eye. It’s a plug and play solution for mobile payments, but it also gives customers the ability to “trade” social media promotion for a free drink/snack. A user would open up the LikeUs app, login with their Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – etc, post a friendly message like “Next time you’re at Walmart, check out the vending machines out front. They give out free soda! www.walmart.com #walmartvending”. This type of marketing solves two major problems the vending industry has. The first is the bottom line. Drinks and snacks are inexpensive, but they also need to be priced inexpensively if you want them to sell. The price of advertising on social networks and search engines can well exceed the price of a can of soda. The second is that vending machines previously have had no idea who their customers are. A customer puts money in the machine, chooses their drink and walks away. Since we’re using API’s like Facebook Connect, we are able to track demographic information that vending machines have been lacking.
Why did LikeUs and Mark Cuban decide to dive into this market? Well, let’s look at how mobile payments affect vending revenue. Both United States and Japan have 5 million vending machines across their two countries. The United States vending revenue for 2012 was $15 billion. Japan’s vending revenue for 2012 was closer to $50 billion. Why the drastic difference? Less than 5 percent of vending machines in the United States are mobile payment enabled, which is a drastic difference to the over 90 percent of mobile payment enabled machines in Japan.
LikeUs Network will be at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF event September 9th through 11th showcasing their device & giving demos. http://www.likeus.co
About LikeUs Network
LikeUs Network is a mobile payment solution for vending machines. When our device is plugged into vending machines, it enables them to accept payments from PayPal, Google Wallet, saved credit cards, and other payment solutions.
LikeUs Network is founded by Ray Hernandez and Keyston Clay, funded by Mark Cuban in 2012. LikeUs Network has operations in Irvine, California and San Antonio, Texas.