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A Columbus startup building tech-enabled vending kiosks that can dispense anything from shoes to watches to cannabis has raised the maximum $1.1 million allowed via equity crowdfunding with the average investment being $500.

CEO Dawn Dickson invented the machines to solve a problem for her other business, rollable ballet flats women can swap for painful high heels. For a time, the shoes were sold through vending machines in an airport and nightclub, but she couldn’t find a machine on the market that looked and performed the way she wanted.

PopCom, the brand for her Solutions Vending International Inc., incorporates facial recognition and records transactions on blockchain, a secure distributed digital ledger. The machine can scan anonymous demographic data to analyze shoppers who engage and buy compared with those who walk past.

Or, it can actually identify the shopper for a loyalty program or to dispense regulated products like alcohol and cannabis.

“There are definitely infinite possibilities,” Dickson said. “My No. 1 focus now is getting the product out and showing the world what we already know - that it works and will be very disruptive to the automated retail industry.”

Dickson took PopCom through the Techstars accelerator in Los Angeles and a cannabis industry accelerator in Boulder, Colorado. She moved back to Central Ohio in 2017 after raising $1 million from Rev1 Ventures, Loud Capital and NCT Ventures of Columbus and Cleveland-based JumpStart.

Under Title III of the 2012 Jobs Act, companies can raise up to $1,070,000 in a calendar year from the general public instead of restricting the round to high-net-worth investors. Few startups follow the route because of the regulatory and reporting requirements. PopCom also is the first Central Ohio startup to offer digital tokens as securities instead of paper stock certificates in a campaign.

The company started working on the campaign last summer and the Securities and Exchange Commission approved it for launch in December. Pledges hit the legal limit at the end of March, but some investors are on a waiting list because PopCom initially set up its campaign on the platform Start Engine, with a ceiling of $943,000 and needs to revise that to allow the full $1,070,000.

Source: https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2019/04/07/startup-raises-1m-in-crowdfunding-for-high-tech.html

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