Jobs, Profits & Compassion: Momba, a 21st Century Business

By Heather Duque 

Building Sandcastles - Momba - College Vending Machines - Heather Duque

What we’re trying to do

Before Steven and I knew that we would start Momba, like a lot of new couples, we had a lot of long discussions about our lifetime goals. We also talked a lot about the challenges young people face in today’s economic environment and potential solutions to move our country forward. Our beliefs and goals — and so, the company we’ve started — have a lot to do with who we are and how we were raised.

Dream Big - Momba - College Vending - Heather Duque

Where we’re coming from

We both come from families where dreaming big was encouraged and hard work was practiced. Steven and I are both extremely hard workers, and we believe that, with enough hard work, anything is possible for us to achieve.

We also come from families where compassion for others was encouraged. My grandmother, a young girl during the Depression, told me that her mother always gave food to hungry women and men who asked her for help, knowing what it was like to be in need herself. Continue reading

Launch Day: Momba’s first machines at Harvard featured in Forbes

Forbes featured the Momba launch today: “New ‘Momba’ Vending Machines Going Onto Harvard Campus to Promote Safety, Convenience.”

Here’s a snippet:

There’s a large house less than an hour north of Boston where history and innovation are melding into one. Owner Steven Duque is in the two-story, three-car garage attached to the 312-year-old house, wearing a Harvard ball cap and goggles, and using a wood router for the first time. He’s customizing a special vending machine that will be used to make college students’ lives easier and safer.

 

Momba is coming to life.

Created with his wife, Heather, the first of two Momba machines was placed on Harvard’s campus Monday morning in the Quincy House dorm, where Steven lived as a student. Zappos founder and CEO Tony Hsieh also lived in Quincy House in the 1990s, most notably managing the Quincy House Grille and selling burgers to students in the dorm. The second Momba machine will be placed in Harvard Yard, the oldest and center part of campus.

 

The machines hold essentials like toothbrushes, shampoo, phone chargers, red cups and ping pong balls. The basics that can be purchased at a convenience store will be in the vending machines, allowing students to get their needs without needing to leave campus. They’ll be able to pay with cash, debit, credit and campus currency. It’s a way for students to stay safe, clean and empowered. Momba’s looking out for her kids, even after they’ve left home.

[Continue reading on Forbes.com]

The first Momba machine will be placed on campus this afternoon. For a full press release from today’s launch, click here.

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Data-driven decisions: finding the right product mix

By Steven Duque

As we near placing the first set of Momba vending machines on university campuses across New England and the northeastern United States, we’re thinking hard about the product selections we make. The limited space within our vending machines to serve our products makes smart inventory selection even more pressing. Most who know me will agree that my natural tendency is to act on my intuition, but experience (including my work at Bullhorn) has taught me that using data to inform our decisions can help us act more wisely and productively than we would without it.

Data-driven decisions and doing the “right” thing

Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “It takes less time to do things right than to explain why you did it wrong.” Although Longfellow was likely referring to ethical decisions, the adage applies to the Momba’s approach to identifying the “right” product mix to best serve students’ needs. Rather than shooting first and asking questions later, we conducted a survey last month to help us identify which products we should initially serve in our machines. Continue reading

The beginning of the beginning

Momba: a different type of business

Momba

By Steven Duque

Momba’s primary mission is to give students the things they need where they live, whenever they need them; a significant portion of our profits will be given to schools’ financial aid programs. And, we plan to offer student social entrepreneurs an opportunity to make good money while making a positive impact on their immediate communities.

A former dirty college kid on financial aid cleans up

Laundry Piling UpOnce upon a time, I was a dirty college kid on financial aid, who was awake at all sorts of weird hours of the day, as my former roommates will attest. Incidentally, I also often exposed myself to a lot of unnecessary danger by wandering campus and neighboring areas, especially when I needed essential items like toiletries and/or clean undergarments (you can probably guess that I wasn’t super religious about doing my laundry).

In my late-night college wanderings, I saw that I wasn’t the only one awake. Whether for studying, partying or just hanging out, people away at school are awake at all hours of the day. Not only that, they also often need things at all hours of the day. Even when it’s daytime, the thought of dropping what you’re doing and leaving your dorm to buy essential items can seem daunting and time-consuming. In the grand scheme of dorm life, taking care of oneself often falls lower and lower on a growing priority list.

And that’s where Momba comes in. Continue reading