DVD machine debuts

On-campus vending machines do not just offer soda and candy bars anymore. A new vending machine in Gelman Library allows students to rent DVDs.

More than 1,200 people have used the new DVD vending machine, Hippo Video, since it began operating in the lobby of Gelman Library Nov. 8, said Mehdi Assadi, one of the machine’s developers.

Assadi and his father, M.H. Assadi-Moghadam, serve as vice president and president of Campus Video Solutions, which owns and operates HippoVideo. Assadi said Hippo Video is one of the first of its kind on a college campus.

Assadi-Moghadam, a GW alumnus, and his son decided to develop the machines when Assadi saw one like it in Arlington, Va., and thought it would suit a college environment. He said the machines have been used in Europe and Japan for more than 10 years but are relatively new to the U.S.

“People don’t really get it at first, but it’s a new concept that’s really starting to break ground here,” Assadi said.

While the machine has the capacity to hold nearly 2,000 DVDs, it only has about 1,000 movies in stock.

“We don’t want to have ‘B’ movies and we’re working really hard to get a handle on what students want,” Assadi said.

Nearly 150 new DVDs, such as seasons of the “West Wing,” have been added to the machine in the past few weeks, reflecting suggestions that were made on the machine’s website, HippoVideo.com. Xbox and Playstation 2 games will be available for rental soon, Assadi said.

Campus Video Solutions pitched its product to the office of Institutional Auxiliary Services, which manages third party contracts for the University.

“IAS conducted a thorough bid proposal process where we solicited bids from several companies that provide this type of service,” program coordinator Gary Reynolds wrote in an e-mail. “(Campus Video Solutions) stood out because they provided the University with the most student-focused and competitive business model.”

Campus Video Solutions financed the installation without any cost to the University. The company and GW have an agreement that the University will share in Hippo Video’s profits, but will not be held liable if the business fails.

IAS chose Gelman Library as the location for the machine because of its 24-hour access for students, staff and faculty.

Part of the four-year contract between Campus Video Solutions and the University allows the machine to accept Colonial Cash for the $3 rental fee. The company must also maintain a toll-free customer service phone number to deal with any problems.

Only nine customers have contacted Campus Video Solutions to report glitches with the machine, such as a receipt paper jam, Assadi said.

He added that he usually stops by the machine every other day to perform any necessary maintenance and add new titles to the catalog of films.

Before Hippo Video began operating, Tower Video was the only place within a few blocks of campus to rent movies. The nearest Blockbuster Video is at 17th and P streets, in Dupont Circle. Some students, however, said they are reluctant to rent from the store because it requires credit card information.

“I don’t have a credit card and their selection wasn’t that great to begin with,” sophomore Alex Stalarow said.

Sophomore Sarah Singh said she uses Hippo Video and thinks it is a good alternative to Blockbuster.

“I am glad that (the machine) is here and I like that it’s not (from) some huge corporation like Blockbuster,” Singh said.

Hippo Video will begin advertising to the Foggy Bottom community in the spring. To help with this endeavor, the company will offer six marketing internships for students to gain hands-on experience in managing and planning the campaign.

Campus Video Solutions also plans to expand on campus and add new machines in locations such as the Marvin Center, Thurston Hall and Ivory Tower.

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