Left to Right: Heywood and Geoffrey, Co-founders of myFITBOX
The Mission: Healthy Snacking for Everyone!
A Selection of Protein-Filled Products that Make for a Healthy and Quick Snack
Heywood and Geoffrey, Co-founders of myFITBOX, on Holiday in Phuket, Where the Idea for myFITBOX was Born
Geoffrey and Heywood, who are gym junkies themselves, initiated this idea when they realized that in Malaysia, most of their favourite workout snacks weren’t readily available in the market. They had to purchase them online and wait weeks for it to be shipped from overseas at a hefty price. They currently import products that people in fitness know and love, and have made them surprisingly accessible in a local vending machine. To meet various dietary needs, they also stock products that are plant-based (vegan-friendly) and gluten-free.
Beyond fueling the fitness industry, myFITBOX wants to offer alternatives to regular junk food with healthy snacks that taste just as good and are kind to your body. Over the last year, they’ve expanded to schools and shopping malls within the Klang Valley to make low-calorie snacking more accessible to the wider community. The goal is to have 200 vending machines by the end of 2023 across major cities in Malaysia.
The Vending Machine Venture
I asked Geoffrey to share his experience starting a vending machine business. It’s an uncommon venture to take up especially in a time when the spotlight on entrepreneurship falls on tech and apps-based startups.
Here are three key insights from the co-founder:
The myFITBOX Team (Not in Picture: Heywood)
1.) To not overthink business planning.
When they started thinking about myFITBOX, Geoffrey and Heywood had subscription boxes in mind, where customers would pay a recurring fee and receive a box of goodies in their home as often as they’d like. But after seeing how not many subscription box ventures took off, they decided they would pivot slightly and sell their products in a literal box – a vending machine.
Before they let themselves be held back by the potential challenges and threats of the venture, they hit the ground running and got to work quickly. As they have been running the business for more than a year now, they’ve encountered unexpected challenges (like COVID forcing gyms to halt operations) and have had to solve the problem on the go. “We just said yes first and then learned to do it later – that was probably the best thing for us,” he recalls.
2.) The vending machine serves as a brand and a marketing front.
The Vending Machine Is More than Just a Dispenser – It Is a Brand by Itself
Geoffrey and Heywood don’t just aim for the vending machine to be a dispenser, but they want people to actually know a vending machine by its brand name and products. Their e-commerce platform on their website was fueled by the needs of customers who wanted more of their products in higher volumes – more than the vending machine could offer. Now, myFITBOX’s range of products can be bought via Grab, Shopee, and Lazada.
So, having a physical presence with their unique vending machines helped point customers to a name – myFITBOX – which they could quickly Google and purchase more high protein snacks from. When asked about their magical mascot, Geoffrey explained that healthy snacks that taste good can be real – just like Peu Peu the unicorn.
3.) The vending machine scene in Malaysia has a long way to go.
Because vending machines don’t get much attention amongst Malaysians, the industry is slow-moving. Not many machines accept cashless payment methods, and suppliers of the machines themselves still operate traditionally – no websites or exposure, and requests to repair a machine aren’t fulfilled with urgency. Owners of vending machines in Malaysia have much to learn from regions with more optimised vending machines like Japan and Europe.
myFITBOX is paving the way for exciting growth of vending machine businesses in Malaysia – who knows what kinds of products we’ll be able to buy in the future?