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Zoom Systems Founder Gower Smith Revisits Automated Retail At Helm Of Swyft Inc.; Company Raises $3.5 Million

Posted On: 5/11/2016

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TAGS: Zoom Systems, Gower Smith, Swyft Inc., Swyft Series A equity financing, vending, automated retailing, Richard Hashim

SAN FRANCISCO -- Zoom Systems founder Gower Smith is now chief executive of Swyft Inc., a company he cofounded in 2013 that, like Zoom Systems, manufactures and markets automated stores. The company also announced that it has closed $3.5 million in Series A equity financing.

Smith started Zoom Systems in 2002 and launched its automated retail store in 2005. It partnered with many retailers and brands to sell their high-end merchandise through its machines. They include Apple, Sony, Proactiv, AT&T and Best Buy, along with L'Oréal, Macy's and Nespresso.

Smith stepped down from his role at chief executive at Zoom Systems in 2011. In 2013, he cofounded Swyft Inc. to provide what he says is "a more scalable and disruptive next-generation automated retail business." Like Zoom Systems, Swyft offers retailers, brands and vending operators automated stores, supported and driven by a SaaS platform. They can complement or replace standard snack and beverage vending machines with a broader product mix in high-traffic locations, like malls, airports, colleges and fitness centers.

"We are at the inflection point where automated retail is proven, however has not yet scaled," Smith said. "Just like when banks introduced ATMs, location numbers increased 10 times once independent manufacturers deployed low-cost machines. At Zoom Systems, I quickly grew annual sales from zero to $100 million, but after handing off management, the company didn't continue to lower capital cost to improve ROI. Our data showed that this was the key for scale to tens of thousands of locations and billions in revenue, which is our focus at Swyft."

Swyft clients have the option to lease or purchase the machines, which feature touchscreen displays that support advertising, demographic profiling, inventory and supply chain management and mobile payment integration. The company charges its partners a monthly fee to deploy and manage the network.

Swyft said the $3.5 million funding has already enabled the company to release its hardware, flexible cloud-based software and a more efficient operating cost structure.

"The funding will enhance Swyft's disruptive technology platform as we add clients to our network," said Swyft president and chief operating officer Richard Hashim. "Since closing our financing we've signed contracts with several high-profile clients and now have client-branded automated retail networks operating successfully. We also have an extremely healthy pipeline of new customers."