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Day 34/15 – Friday 17th April –15 days of Spanish lock down

Some 20 years ago, I was involved in a start-up business we called Majic Mushroom Vending!

When visiting Bergen, Norway we came across some ugly vending machines around the town that were selling an 'interesting product' that we thought would work well in UK. Hessia seeing the opportunity took down the details and contacted the firm who was operating them. More on that in a moment…

Friday started positively enough as I went shopping for client who had just turned 70 and is self-isolating. He recently finished a series of chemo sessions, so under no circumstances should be out and about even if the reported numbers of cases here on the coast are very low. A visit to Mercadona and Iceland and he is stocked up for the next few weeks. I joked with him saying that the supplies would last 3-4 days in my household at best.
There were noticeably more cars on the road than the week before with some sectors being allowed back to work. I managed again to navigate around one police check point, not that it would have been an issue, but clearly they are still out in force trying to minimise unnecessary movement.

Regrettably I skipped my morning meditation and the results were felt during the day in terms of lack of focus, being short and negative future pacing. Interesting how 15 minutes well invested can be the difference between a day feeling fulfilled and one with lots of loose ends.

Back to vending machines – we had no experience in vending machines, but we did have some personal knowledge of the product…!

They explained to us that the new machines would be state of the art and to a large extent remotely controlled taking credit card payments. We felt there was an opportunity, so assembled a team, pitched and after some months of negotiation secured rights to the UK market, beating some well-established vending machine operators. I think they liked our ‘out of the box’ thinking and innovative approach.

Our partner Micky was well connected in the hotel sector and between us we secured 10 great trial sites across London to place these new concept machines, including three hotels (two Hiltons), Excel exhibition centre (now temporarily converted into The Nightingale Hospital), West One Shopping Centre above Bond Street tube and Whittington Hospital.

We ran the trial for some six months selling two products with moderate success. Unfortunately, due technical issues in the machines, some design faults, cost of maintenance and cash flow we decided not to continue with the business. It was a super learning experience, a lot of fun and not too costly as we managed to sell of all of the product door to door at retail outlets.

The original machine we saw in Bergen was the prototype umbrella vending machine. The products we were selling were umbrellas and disposable cameras! Today of course we would stock them with face masks and hand gels!

So why Majic Mushroom?

Well, when the new futuristic machines arrived in London there was a big umbrella logo on the top, which looked nothing like an umbrella! The crazy name really helped us get past reception when we contacted companies and advertisers and we always got a chuckle.

umbrella and camera vending machine image%201 - Lion Trust Spain

And now you know where Majic gets her name from!

Keep safe,

PS. There was another company that subsequently tried the idea just after us.  Initially they secured investment on Dragon's Den, which was subsequently withdrawn when it was allegedly established that the company had misled the investors.

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