FORT WORTH, Texas — Jaime Ibanez is on his way to becoming Texas’ vending machine king, or so he hopes.
The 21-year-old YouTuber and entrepreneur highlight sells snacks and shares his business practices with his 481,000 YouTube subscribers and 20,000 Instagram followers.
It all started at South Hill High School in Fort Worth, when he bought Lay’s chips wholesale and resold them to friends for a profit.
After graduating in June 2018, he initially considered pursuing a real estate license until he “bumped into the vending machine industry” later that summer.
“I didn’t know anyone could own a vending machine. I thought it was just Coke or Dr. Pepper, big business,” Ibanez said. “But I found that anyone could buy a machine, put it in a business, and start making money.”
The Fort Worth resident bought his first machine three months out of high school in August 2018 for $3,000. Only 18 at the time, he had to use almost all of his savings to buy it. The machine was an interesting purchase, as it was already in place at a local business.
But a few days later, the company owner told Ibanez to take it down. It was less than a week old and no prospect of new locations.
“For the next two days, I sat in my room for hours. I called probably 100 different companies,” he said. “The second day I found one – it was a hair salon, maybe 15 minutes from my house.”
His business, Vending Bites, was born, and Ibanez still has this barber shop in its portfolio of vending machines. Four months later, he bought a three-location sales road with eight machines. Ibanez still considers this deal a “theft”.
It cost him $4,000, half of which came from friends and family to supplement his savings. Ibanez estimates that it can take up to a year to recoup an initial investment on some machines, but this route was consistently bringing in $1,200 a month. He was in the dark in less than five months.
Three short and eventful years later, Ibanez now has 37 vending machines in North Texas. Just selling, he said, his monthly sales hovers between $12,000 and $13,000, with a profit margin of 45% after taking into account the cost of gas and snacks.
Ibanez first went live with its sales company story in January 2019 in a daily YouTube video. The video captured Ibanez restocking vending machines and collecting cash – an inauspicious start that Ibanez said hit one million views in less than a month.
His online presence grew quickly and he reached 100,000 YouTube subscribers in just a few months. He said he “always loved being on camera” and was eager to mix his comfort in front of the camera with what he was learning about running a business.
“I’ve done just about every video I can think of on selling, [but] people always like to see collection videos. They always want to see how many machines are making,” he said. “I always try to do something a little different.”
Ibanez’s 129 videos have been viewed over 57 million times, and his engaging personality shines through in his videos. He enjoys telling personal stories with his girlfriend Lizbeth Galvan and sharing his experiences while teaching business lessons along the way.
“I always thought about who exactly was watching my videos. Is it people who want to start a vending machine business, or is it people who just watch it for entertainment? said Ibanez. “It’s mostly my brand because the majority of people only watch the videos because of the entertainment I mix them with.”
Ibanez releases once or twice a month – production it wants to increase as it could boost its YouTube revenue.
At first, Ibanez said, YouTube content about the vending machine business was more profitable than the machines themselves. His YouTube earnings are now between $5,000 and $10,000 a month.
His creative process is completely intuitive, with little to no planning involved. Ibanez said he often took his camera with him when stocking vending machines or buying snacks in bulk. He also looks for unique vending machines, such as ones that dispense freshly squeezed orange juice or a Skittles machine where you can choose your favorite flavor.
“I thought about whether I wanted to create different types of content because I feel like selling is getting a little repetitive now,” he said. “In the future, I will probably move into making other types of corporate financial videos.”
In 2021, Ibanez has taken the time to focus primarily on maintenance. But he also spent the year developing Exotic World, an online business that sells unique snacks from around the world.
“It’s all the brands you know, like Oreo, Fanta, KitKat, but in other countries like Japan, Australia. They make flavors that the US doesn’t,” Ibanez said.
Quirky items from its online store include spicy Korean ramen flavored Lay’s chips, melon flavored KitKats and yogurt flavored Fanta. Her store also sells mystery boxes at three different prices and has curated surprise selections that change monthly.
He markets this business on Instagram and TikTok and has attracted an additional 11,700 Instagram followers and 137,000 TikTok followers to add to his social media presence. According to Ibanez, this activity is currently the most profitable of all its sources of income. Ibanez said he averaged between $10,000 and $15,000 a month from Exotic World’s snack sales, and took 30% of that profit.
“It does a lot better than the sell…which is crazy to think, but the sell is more consistent,” he said. “[Vending has] the same amount of sales pretty much every day compared to online sales, which one day can be very high and then the next day very low.
As he began researching the vending machine industry, Ibanez quickly recognized that there were few resources for aspiring owners.
“Three years ago there was no information on how to start,” Ibanez said. “I kind of winged everything from the very beginning.”
For him, that meant getting his business license and permits, setting up his LLC, and learning how to source and fix vending machines himself. As he expanded, he found resources and other sales professionals to help him when problems arose, whether it was a broken part or difficulty finding locations. to place a vending machine.
“To this day, I receive a lot of messages. People want to get into sales but don’t really know how to find locations,” said Ibanez, which often targets warehouses and offices with large staff. “That’s the hardest part in this business: finding a location for your machine.”
On YouTube, Ibanez sees his videos as filling in the information gap he encountered in his early days, offering tips for generating sales or finding vending machines.
For its more enterprising followers, Ibanez has created a Teachable course, a step-by-step guide to starting a vending machine business. It charges $147 for it.
“I basically took everything I knew over the last three years and put it into this course and a lot of people enjoyed it. It’s everything from the permits you need to get your first machine pitches,” said Ibanez. “This course is for anyone who wants to take it seriously, as it contains literally everything you could think of at first. [your business].”
What’s his biggest takeaway? It takes persistence to succeed in the vending machine business, Ibanez said.
“A lot of people give up so easily. They buy a machine, they put it in their garage, fill it with snacks from the start to motivate them and see what it’s going to be like. Then they try to find a location for maybe a month or two. [When] they can’t, they end up selling the machine,” he said.
For those ready to take the plunge, Ibanez also partners with Vending.com, a factory-direct vending machine supplier that distributes its favorite brand of machines, Wittern. The partnership allowed Ibanez to offer its audience a referral code for a discount on a first purchase. He collected $1,500 in referral fees in the first month on purchases that used his code.
Ibanez and his girlfriend are a two-person team that manages all three aspects of the business. Galvan manages the sales routes while Ibanez manages the online snack business and content production for social media. They want to expand their team in the near future.
“I feel like I’m stuck right now. I can’t really grow because I’m so busy managing everything,” he said. “That’s another reason why I can’t post often on YouTube right now. My viewers are getting mad at me.
Despite the limitations of their small team, Ibanez has big expansion goals. He wants to start sharing Vending Bites videos on TikTok soon while continuing to add at least one new outlet every month for the rest of 2022.
“I want to take back my city; I want to be the #1 distribution company here,” he said. “The end goal is as big as I can get. I can see myself having a big warehouse and several truck drivers.
And Ibanez isn’t worried about longevity in the vending machine business.
“I honestly think it will be there even for my entire life, who knows hundreds of years later. People will still want snacks, people will still want drinks,” he said. just not see [businesses] spend their time going out to buy snacks for their employees. They will always outsource it to a vending machine company. »