The Faculty of Economics students' vending machine can satisfy hunger and thirst healthily

Cooperation Students University

An idea that a student of Business Administration and Management came up with in high school has been successfully realized at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, thanks to cooperation with classmates and winning the business plan competition Invest Day.

Healthy, gluten-free, lactose-free, organic, or vegan. In the lobby of buildings housing the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, the Faculty of Economics, or the Institute of Language Preparation at the University of West Bohemia, a vending machine has been serving for two months, which is different in many ways. Apart from the assortment of food, it's also unique because it's operated by a team of students from the Faculty of Economics.

The business idea that impressed the Invest Day competition jury last year has been brought to fruition by them. The machine serves students, staff, and employees, inspiring students for further plans.

Jakub Koutník, a second-year student at the Department of Business Administration and Management, brought the idea to the University. "I had plenty of ideas, but it wasn't until I came to university that I gained the determination to realize something. I confided in my friends Lukáš Marek, Adam Menčík, and Matyáš Kopp, and they liked the idea of ​​a joint venture," says Jakub Koutník.

The work could begin. "We discussed all possible advantages and disadvantages, and it turned out that Matyáš is allergic to gluten and lactose, but he doesn't have much choice at the university. We all realized that it's a problem not only for him but for almost 10% of the population, and we were clear. We'll make a vending machine with gluten-free and lactose-free items," continues the student.

Originally, the students wanted to rent the vending machine, but they concluded that it would be more advantageous to buy a refurbished one. Then came the Invest Day competition for student business plans, organized by the University of South Bohemia in cooperation with the University of West Bohemia. The students won, the financial reward further motivated them, they acquired the machine, and negotiated a lease for it. "In the end, we managed to get it to the university just under a week before the start of the summer semester," adds Jakub Koutník.

Although the students had a list of products they wanted in the machine, they encountered a mundane problem. A large part simply wouldn't fit into the device. "We had to cut back, and the many hours of work were almost pointless. But we slightly changed the concept and decided that the machine wouldn't only be for gluten-free and lactose-free products but also for healthy or at least healthier products than what others offer. During the last exam week, we experimented and changed the assortment based on student feedback so that it would be as good as possible at the beginning of the semester," adds Jakub Koutník.

Currently, the machine contains, for example, nuts, dried fruit, fruit snacks, protein and muesli bars, rice cakes, and other rice products, fruit and milk pouches, water, unsweetened iced teas, or mineral waters with added vitamins. A specialty is the drink Mana, a complex and balanced liquid meal.

Anyone who buys from the machine supports the efforts of students who take care of its replenishment themselves and would like to place more on other faculties in the future. "Although the main purpose of the machine is profit, we try to give it a certain outreach that other machines don't offer. That's why we try to keep prices as low as possible, although we face the problem that healthy things are generally more expensive," adds Jakub Koutník.


And what do representatives of the Faculty of Economics say about the vending machine?

"I'm glad that we have students at the faculty who are not afraid to realize and develop their business ideas and take advantage of all the opportunities that our faculty offers in supporting entrepreneurship, through its Center for Business and Sustainability. It is evident that the 1st place in the Invest Day business ideas competition was justified. The guys are already thinking about how to expand their business activities, and we can look forward to healthy products."
Michaela Krechovská, Dean

"I am very pleased that we have such students at the school who are not afraid and dive into the waters of entrepreneurship, and we can be there with them."
Petra Taušl Procházková, Head of the Department of Business Administration and Management, Head of the Center for Business and Sustainability, which co-organizes the Invest Day competition

"When I first met the team as part of the Invest Day competition in March 2023, I didn't even think that students (at that time also in the first year) would bring their idea to fruition within one year and everyone would be able to buy something from their machine. Incredible determination and ambition!"
Jiří Kutlák, Department of Business Administration and Management, mentor of the team in the Invest Day competition





23. 04. 2024