Marcus Gram started from the bottom. Now, he is earning top dollars.

CNBC Make It reports the 31-year-old started with $10,000 and a dream. Gram was making $30,000 per year and originally aspired to become a music producer. He later moved back home to find footing and saved money by living with his mother.

He then moved to Philadelphia with aspirations to jumpstart an entrepreneurship journey. Marcus recalls seeing a woman retrieve money from a vending machine. That brief snapshot in time sparked his interest and his side hustle began.

He invested $4,400 into two vending machines with two card readers in 2018. Gram earned $4,000 in his first year. Soon, his side hustle became a business, and Joyner Vending was born. One year later, his earnings soared to $25,000, and the year after that, $200,000. In 2021, Gram racked in $300,000. Fast forward to now, and Gram projects he is on track to earn half a million dollars this year alone.

Gram shared his tips for success.

Place Machines In Area With High Foot Traffic

Gram has strategically placed 21 vending machines in high-traffic areas such as apartments, hotels, motels, and student housing across Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Detroit.

“Never buy a machine until you have a place to put it,” Gram told CNBC Make It.

To find a machine, Gram suggests looking at a local vending machine warehouse, Craigslist, Facebook market, or eBay. Projected costs of machines range between $1,000 to $10,000. Costs have increased due to growing popularity among consumers during the pandemic. For example, one vending machine priced at $1,400 before 2020, can cost around $2,000 now.

Maximizing Profits

Joyner Vending earns between $800 to $1,300 per month from each vending machine. Gram goes to wholesale distributors including Costco, Sam’s Club, or his warehouse to stock the machines. Gram then resells the products for a higher profit. For example, he profits .85 cents per pack of peanut m&m, $.90 for every bag of Doritos, $1.20 for every can of coke, and $1.43 for every can of red bull.

Gram also understands what his consumers enjoy. Looking at the machine sales, his best-sellers are Coca-Cola, nacho cheese Doritos, Lipton ice tea, M&M’S Peanut, and Red Bull.

As for the distribution of earnings, Employees (10 percent), miscellaneous expenses (10 percent), merchandise (30 percent), and Gram will profit the remaining 50 percent. 

Employed His Sister To Expand Business

Running his own vending machine business has empowered Gram, and now he looks to do the same for his family and other aspiring entrepreneurs. His sister currently runs his business in Philadelphia while he lives in Maryland.

“By being in the vending machine business and finding success in it, I have been able to employ my sister, which is something very very important to me,” Gram said, according to CNBC Make It. “She’s been able to turn her life around. She’s running my business in Philadelphia while I live in the suburbs in a very nice house with my family in Maryland. I’ve been able to change my life, I’ve been able to change my sister’s life, [and] I’ve been able to change my family’s life with the vending machine business.

He continued: “I want to change other people’s lives by talking about the business, doing speaking events, seminars, webinars, whatever I can do to help everyone learn about a business that not a lot of people know about.”