Dan has been an entrepreneur for the better part of his life. It all started with a lemonade stand he set up in his neighbourhood at the age of 12. He remembers loving the feeling of running an operation and providing a service—he had found his calling. His newest venture is Happy Days Vending, which supplies local restaurants and stores with toy vending machines. Don’t be too quick to judge! This isn’t your average vending machine company—Happy Days Vending has a heart for philanthropy. We caught up with Dan to learn how he continues to lead a successful business.

Securing a Strong Support Network

Dan has found support from many places throughout his entrepreneurial journey. While pursuing a business degree at NAIT, he took advantage of their strong entrepreneurial support system with the events and classes they offer. Dan also sought out guidance and received help from our team member, David. He speaks highly of our market research assistance as he believes he was given some valuable links directly to the information he needed within 48 hours. In addition to the support we provided, Dan continues to network regularly and has formed his own relationships with industry experts and other entrepreneurs who provide mentorship. He sees everyone he meets as a potential mentor, and isn’t afraid to ask them to go for a coffee, which he says works 99% of the time.

“Everything I know today is a compilation of the people I’ve met, the books I’ve read, the conferences I’ve attended, the degree I’ve taken, and the companies I’ve started.”

Partnerships Help Grow Your Business

In the beginning stages of starting this new venture, Dan found himself busy with wrapping his head around the business itself: what vending is, who buys it, and why. Now he is much more confident in its operations and has achieved multiple big wins by successfully closing deals and getting his machines in the marketplace. So far he has ten machines in places like Royal Pizza, and is looking at expanding to Gateway Lanes or other entertainment spaces. While many entrepreneurs measure their success in sales, Dan is most proud to be partnering with the Missing Children Society of Canada. He participates in their vending awareness program, where he donates a portion of sales to the society and a photo of a missing child is displayed on each machine.

Easy Business Tips for You

Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from each other, so we asked Dan for some tips to share with others looking for a little advice. Here’s what he had to offer:

  • Make sure there is a market for your business idea. You learn that through market research and talking with people, which is something that Business Link can help with.
  • There are too many entrepreneurs that stick with a business model that isn’t lucrative. Know when it is time to re-evaluate an idea.
  • Having strong mentorship can help to guide you. Don’t be afraid to ask for input.

Moving Forward

Over the last year, Dan has learned a lot about the vending industry. He knows that machines that take cash are not sustainable long term, so he is exploring other options. His company is at the preliminary stages of researching a particular segment of snack vending that no one in Edmonton has yet taken advantage of. Within the next 6-8 months, Happy Days may be expanding and granting you even happier days!