Who says entrepreneurialism is dead in America?
Who says business dreams no longer come true in the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Who says there are no more business mountains to climb – no more opportunities – for the average guy to operate his own business?
Just ask Stan Gladstone.
He had an idea.
He started a business three years ago after an accident left him incapacitated. It was called Candy Kingdom Gum Balls.
After six months, his business was doing all right, but he was having difficulties placing machines in locations he wanted because of the competition.
He needed a hook – a unique product to go along with his machines.
His big idea came after he watched a designer drop Altoid tins into the purses she made for her famous clients.
“I thought how hip that is,” said Gladstone, who promptly contacted Altoids, then based in the United Kingdom.
But the company had no interest selling Altoids in bulk to him.
Providentially, however, the company was purchased shortly thereafter by Kraft. Before he could make another pitch, he scanned the phone book for the right executive to contact. After nearly a year of red tape, sketches, renderings and prototype development, Gladstone got good news from Kraft.
“This whole time I’m waiting for them to steal my idea,” said a grateful Gladstone.
But Kraft didn’t steal his idea and, in a short time, Gladstone has ordered more than 60 tons of Altoids to fill his machines. Yes, he’s the exclusive vendor for the product and he’s looking for a few good partner-distributors to sell the popular Altoids in choice locations all over the country.
The single-serving vending machine is the first to target an adult audience, said Gladstone, who compared the concept to a Coca-Cola machine. It also marks the first time Kraft has authorized a company to design a vending machine for one of its products. He’s even got an Internet chat room that supports sales, he said.