Founder Of Black-Owned Smart-Vending Startup Makes History, Raises $2.3 Million Through Crowdfunding

PopCom, a leading automated retail technology company specializing in smart vending and kiosk solutions successfully completed their second equity crowdfunding campaign on Start Engine.

The goal was to grow its operations, build its sales team, reach more customers, and meet the demand for more automated retail machines in the wake of COVID-19, with their proprietary vending machine, the PopShop Kiosk. In a mere 47 days, PopCom did what no female founder in global history has ever done – they raised $1.3 million in capital exclusively from crowdfunding investors. This comes on the heels of a previous campaign where PopCom was able to raise $1.07 million in capital bringing their crowdfunding total to $2.3 million.

“Although the timing is sensitive due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we must continue to look towards the future and build products for our customers,” said Dawn Dickson, PopCom Founder & CEO. “While some industries are hurting, the requirement for social distancing validates the need for vending and retail automation. We believe that the market will continue to move towards self-service and contactless retail. Vending machines and convenience services are becoming more essential, and retailers are looking for more ways to deliver their products direct-to-customer with less human friction. We are excited about what is to come.”

With the intention to service the entire regulated retail market, PopCom has secured technology pilots and rollouts starting with cannabis and alcohol in 2020. It is the company’s intent to eventually power all machine-driven transactions in the retail space with its operating system that integrates facial detection to understand the customer demographic profile including age, gender, and emotion. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more apparent that this could be a valuable asset to communities around the world, mitigating the need for human contact in emergency situations. Consumers would be able to access essential items around the clock, preventing lines and crowding.

With more than 4,000 investors, Dickson raised a historic crowdfunding campaign using Regulation CF secure token offering (STO). This type of fundraising instrument allows companies to secure investment from the general public, both accredited and non-accredited investors, which is outside of the traditional fundraising route that most technology start-ups take. “It was important to me to be able to raise capital this way to build and encourage intergenerational wealth in often overlooked communities,” Dickson said. “I aim to bridge the gap between venture capital and everyday people.” PopCom is still accepting reservations from investors who want to be waitlisted for future rounds. There is over $300,000 in commitments to date.

This article originally appeared in Black Enterprise on July 5, 2020.

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