A plan to put vending machines — selling energy drinks, snack bars, breath mints, gum and even pain relievers — inside yellow cabs won rave reviews yesterday at a city-sponsored contest for new business ideas.
“New Yorkers demand convenience. They want to be as effective with their time as possible,” said Brian Shimmerlik, an NYU Stern School of Business student who incorporated the company TaxiTreats in January.
Mounted next to the Taxi TV screens facing the back seat, the mini vending machines would be serving an all-too-captive audience.
“Who hasn’t flown into New York, grabbed a taxi, and had a terrible headache? Who hasn’t been late for a meeting, immediately regretted skipping breakfast, and suffered for the rest of the day? Who hasn’t left a meal and thought, ‘Wow, I’m self-conscious about my breath?’ ” Shimmerlik said.
Shimmerlik selected the products he plans to sell based on the most popular items at convenience stores.
He said he’s still working out details on how passengers would pay for treats, but he envisions somehow tacking the price onto the fare.
Shimmerlik and his team will get a rolling start on their project, with $17,500 in start-up funds and six months of free office space from the city after being picked as one of two winning projects.
The NYU students were among 270 teams from 62 nations who entered the annual Next Idea competition held by the city’s Economic Development Corp. in partnership with Columbia University’s School of Engineering.
But the vending plan has yet to get the green light from the Taxi & Limousine Commission.
“We love the students’ ingenuity. EDC’s Next Idea is a great initiative, and it is clearly inspiring some great thinking. I don’t know if this is something we’ll ever see in a taxicab, but I congratulate the students on the strength of their ideas,” TLC Commissioner David Yassky said.
The other winner of EDC’s contest was an app for online clothes shoppers that would help them visualize how clothing fits before they order it and have it shipped home.
The app allows shoppers to input their body types into a smartphone and check out how particular garments would look on them on a screen before buying products online.