The people behind Unattended Markets

John Douang
Co-Founder & CEO, Unattended Markets

Marie Yong
Co-Founder & VP, Operations and Finance

Josh Douang
Co-Founder & Director, Training and Development

It takes a big personal commitment to successfully run a small convenience store. I should know, because for years my family ran a typical local corner store in Toronto’s Dufferin & Eglinton neighbourhood. Helping my father in the shop taught me and my brother Josh a lot about hard work and how even a small store can play a large role in a community.

So when years later, I read an article about the future of vending technologies in retail, I immediately thought of our store.

By that time, I had 12 years experience in technology integration, and I was intrigued by the advances in automation, firmware and payment systems. Could we use new technology to find a more secure, reliable way to offer the same kind of convenience as the local corner store, but right in the same buildings where people lived?

A new era of convenience

As everyone’s pace of life has accelerated, few of us now make the time for a weekly run to the grocery store. Last-minute, just-in-time shopping is increasingly the norm. At the same time, more people than ever live in condominiums and other kinds of residential communities that attract residents with amenities like gyms, pools and party rooms.

And isn’t ultra-convenient food shopping the greatest amenity?

I discussed the idea with my wife, Marie Yong, who holds an MBA and PHD in Finance and Corporate Management. Together we developed the concept into Unattended Markets, founded in 2015, and turned to my brother Josh for his experience in distribution, product management and loss prevention planning.

From machines to markets

But what started as an automated grocery vending business has since evolved into something even bigger and more innovative.

In September 2016, in partnership with Knightstone Capital and Centennial College, we launched Canada’s first cashier-less grocery store at Centennial Place student residence, tailored to the specific purchasing habits of their community.

The success of our modestly sized market has since allowed us to expand across the Greater Toronto Area, and to Ottawa, Waterloo, London, and St. Catharines.

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Automation personalized

Unattended Markets continues to innovate and evolve, seeking new ways to streamline the last-minute grocery shopping experience.

But at its core, it’s still a family business. Josh now oversees all training and knowledge management related to franchising, while Marie and I continue to deliver personal attention to property managers. Together, we help ensure that their stores are everything their community needs — just like our father always did.

— John Douangprachanh
Co-Founder & CEO, Unattended Markets

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