Last year New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled “the taxi of tomorrow”, the Nissan NV200. An upgraded departure from the ubiquitous Crown Victoria, the Nissan NV200 offers passengers an additional 10 inches of leg room. Before you get too excited about the idea of added space be forewarned: you might be sharing your ride with a vending machine.
TaxiTreats, a young startup manned by MBA students at New York University, aims to make money out of those ten inches. TaxiTreats raised $1 million to install vending machines in NYC taxis selling convenience items like chewing gum, hand sanitizer, snacks and, yes, prophylactics.
The vending machines TaxiTreats intends to install in NYC taxis will look nothing like the bulky, change-operated vending machines of high schools hallways and rest stops. TaxiTreats’ vending machine models are credit card-only and feature touch screens for making vending machine item selections. A smart move, since credit cards require only a single swipe and searching for dropped quarters in a moving taxi or asking the cabbie for change while driving is a recipe for disaster.
TaxiTreats is currently testing out its vending machines in various pubs and bars throughout NYC and hopes to have its machines in taxis by this summer. The young startup has already received the go-ahead from the city and $17,000 from the NYC Economic Development Corporation. No approval yet from the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission.
Brian Shimmerlik, founder of TaxiTreats, estimates his vending machines could top $1 million in tax revenue for the city and additional cash for taxi fleet owners. That a lot of, um, hand sanitizer.