Prize Monkey makes vending machines cool.

Today's featured member, Prize Monkey, is a complete prize redemption platform for mobile devices.

Prize Monkey is a fun way to connect your mobile device to vending machines around you. Use the Prize Monkey WiFi hotspot to connect to any one of our enabled machines to play games, win prizes and earn free snacks instantly. Read our interview with Brad Thorne, Prize Monkey Founder.

“Consumers love getting free stuff over a giveaway entry, but they need an easy and controlled platform for their interactions. Do something now, get something now is a concept we can all understand.” - Brad Thorne, Founder

What inspired you to start your company?
Constantly running out of cash (surprise surprise!) and wanting snacks during all-nighters. We had phones but no way to interact and we knew more could be done.

Tell us something unique about you and your co-founder(s)?
We found out last minute we had a slot in Eureka Park at CES. We drove 40 hours straight from Philly to Vegas in a mini-van with a vending machine. We slept in our booth at since we didn't make hotel plans and didn't have the cash for the sold out rooms. We also made nice with the kitchen staff when we found out they were throwing away untouched trays of food that would come back from the fancy parties. We ate like kings!

What problem does your product or service solve?
The vending industry is struggling with a shifting customer base that is increasingly moving away from cash towards mobile. Couple that with a lack of upsell channels and legislation around consumer education (nutritional information) and you've got an industry ready for innovation.

What are your startup's three biggest challenges to growth?
Vending operators have trusted cash transactions and have seen previous technology attempts go south. Mobile has alot to prove.

The vending industry is uniquely very cottage. A few players make up the pipeline. The manufacturers and distributors work very closely together and act as industry gatekeepers.

Lastly, we're a PA based startup that is always in talent acquisition mode. We're always looking for sharp 'doers'.

How will Startup America help you overcome these challenges and help your startup grow?
Startup America's partners have committed to helping startups. They represent a considerable resource network. We plan on working closely with groups like JLL which manage mall locations. Gaining visibility and real world placement is key for us.

What Startup America Member Benefits have you used?
Startup America recently launched here in Pennsylvania. We were able to make some great connections at the kickoff event that allowed us to learn about funding resources, etc right in our backyard.

What is the startup culture like in your City/State?
It's tough to gauge at the statewide level. It's very regionalized. You'll find hot beds in Philly, Pittsburgh and Erie. Outside of that is pot luck. We're working hard to create a cohesive community and bring startups to struggling cities like PA's capital Harrisburg.

We have a passion for mobile gaming and want to work closely to create a category for mobile gaming/prize machines. We're working on a new product now called The Vault that allows people to step into the role of a bank robber. Users can solve brainteazers and puzzles to crack into the Vault and win cool stuff instantly.

Check out how Prizey Monkey works here:

More about Prize Monkey
Startup America Member since January 2012
Region: Pennsylvania
Web: http://www.prize-monkey.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PrizeMonkey

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