Jacksonville Tech Company is Looking to Transform Break Rooms by Moving Beyond the Snack Bar

By Jensen Werley, Reporter, Jacksonville Business Journal

SmartBox, the Jacksonville startup that offers healthy food in vending machines, is rolling out a new concept called MiniMart: snack items and refrigerated, fresh-made meals that can be purchased via self-checkout.

“Everytime we touch an industry, we take the concept and make it cooler,” said SmartBox CEO Brandon Stallings.

Stallings said when a company puts a MiniMart in its break room, employees can get breakfast, lunch or prepared dinner items that are locally made in West Jacksonville and ready to buy from the SmartBox cooler.

Then, customers can self-checkout using their credit or debit card, Smart Box account information or thumb print. Cameras are installed in the breakroom to keep people accountable for not just taking the items. Stallings said the company is working on mobile pay.

One of the things that sets the SmartBox MiniMart apart from other self-checkout snack bars, or micromarkets, is that customers can manage and reload their account from anywhere: on their smartphone, online or directly from the kiosk.

SmartBox is also working on setting up a pre-order system, where somebody can put in their lunch order and have it waiting for them in the cooler with their name on it next day.

Micromarkets have existed, mostly overseas, for the past decade or so, said Stallings. But it's only been in the last three years that they've made their way to the U.S. However, they're usually just the same items you'd find in a typical vending machine, with a simple self-checkout kiosk. Stallings said the Mini Mart is looking to be a much more advanced, high-tech version of that.

“There are not many that are doing this,” said Stallings. “We try to be pioneers.”

MiniMarts are rolling out this quarter to some partner companies that Stallings declined to name. By the end of the year, he said he expects about 10 in the area.

Companies that already have SmartBox can upgrade to adding a MiniMart, and the service has a flexible configuration so it can easily fit specific breakrooms.

“We’re a high-tech, innovative company with sophisticated hardware,” said Stallings, “that sells an exotic selection of healthy options. We’re a one-stop shop for the break room.”