NEW YORK CITY -- Hercules Networks is looking to partner with vending machine and ATM operators to accelerate the nationwide deployment of its Automated Charging Machines (ACMs), which allow away-from-home consumers to quickly power up cellphones, PDAs and MP3 players for a small fee.
"We're growing during one of the worst times in history, and we think we have a huge opportunity to share," said Hercules chief executive Paul King. "We're in malls nationwide and major amusement parks, including Six Flags, and we just reached a deal to put ACMs in MGM and Harrah's casinos in Las Vegas. But we're looking to work with vending and ATM operators who already serve local markets to place our machines right beside the equipment they're servicing."
The company's self-service machines employ rapid-charging technology enabling on-the-go users to restore energy to mobile devices in 10 minutes; the suggested price for the service is $2, and the machines accept cash or credit cards. It features 12 charging plugs with intuitive point-of-sale graphics that indicate specific names of compatible devices, like Motorola, Blackberry, iPod MP3 and Nextel, for instance.
The charging stations also serve as an advertising network, hopefully creating an additional revenue stream. An LCD on the kiosk plays the latest news, shows and sports clips through an "infotainment" partnership between Hercules and the CBS television network. The 10- to 20-minute programming cycle loops continuously throughout the day and runs advertisements half the time. The team of advertising veterans at Hercules customizes national, regional and local 30-second ads spots to maximize revenue at each location.
ACMs are available in two freestanding 6-ft.-tall models, with 19" or 32" LCDs, along with a 3x2-ft. graphic display that can be branded to suit any location. A 2-ft.-high wall-mounting style with a 17" display is also available.
(Story, with photos, about the ACMs can be seen here.)
The company began deploying its charging machines in malls nationwide last fall. CC Vending (Bronx, NY) signed on soon thereafter as the first vending operation to install the machines in hospitals, colleges and universities throughout New York City, which have reportedly been well received.
Through its new revenue-sharing program, Hercules splits all costs and expenses with the operator. An ACM costs between $2,000 and $3,000. The operator earns 75% of the charging revenue and Hercules collects 25%. Advertising revenue is split between Hercules (75%) and the operator (25%), and those with more machines in the field receive a larger cut. If the operator does not recoup his or her investment within 18 months, Hercules said it would guarantee a full refund.
"We've been talking with vending and ATM companies across the country over the past few weeks; that's our growth strategy and we've had a great reception," King told VT. "We have so many areas of the country we haven't even touched, including the Northwest, and we're excited about partnering with operators to penetrate local markets."
More information is available from Hercules Networks by calling (212) 551-3523.