Since the invention of the coffee cup sleeve by Java Jacket founder Jay Sorensen in 1993, when polystyrene was clearly losing its market dominance to paper in the to-go cup world, innumerable attempts have been made to elaborate on the basic form and functions.
One of the most creative designs we’ve seen in recent memory comes from the Michigan upstart Sleeveless, which aims to create a “zero waste” sleeve by dramatically reducing the amount of material used while partnering with government agencies for tree planting offsets.
Another newcomer in the sleeve game is the MadDogg Heat Sleeve, a patent-pending product from a still-forming business that tackles one of the sleeve’s most essential principles: insulation. The MadDogg takes its name from young inventor Maddie Tamblyn, a senior majoring in business management and project management at Elon University in North Carolina.
While the invention has been a year in the making through Tamblyn’s involvement with the university’s Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, Department of Physics, and the campus invention-incubator Maker Hub, the idea truly started heating up last month when Tamblyn took first place at a Silicon Valley event called ElevatorPitch presented by the California firm PeopleConnect, during which Tamblyn pitched the sleeve concept and related business to a roomful of experienced angel investors.
Tamblyn was in Silicon Valley as part of a winter term course that included visits to companies such as Facebook and Dropbox. Said Tamblyn, “I kept begging my professors to help me find pitch competitions since we were going out there.”
After winning the competition, Tamblyn was greeted by numerous potential investors offering their business cards, and she is currently in talks with numerous parties interested in investing in the concept. The invention itself is awaiting a patent, which Tamblyn submitted following untold hours of research required to verify her own claims, and with some assistance from a lawyer.
Though Tamblyn declined to go into specifics regarding all the materials used and the sleeve design itself, she did say it folds and stacks like traditional sleeves, it is recyclable and she’s exploring opportunities for compostability. The outside of the sleeve is traditional cardboard, but the inside of the sleeve is where the big secret is contained, with Tamblyn claiming that the product will keep liquid contents hot for three hours.
“Right now I’m registering the business, trademarking the name, waiting for the patent to go through,” Tamblyn said. “I’m starting a Kickstarter in a few weeks, and that will be a great way to raise some initial funds and give me some time to pick investors. I have had some offers but I’m not sure where I want to go right now. I just want to make sure I have people who are genuinely interested in the product and in me as an entrepreneur.”
Asked how to balance a full load of coursework during the homestretch of her senior year while developing a product and launching a business around it, Tamblyn said, “It’s definitely tough. I’m working on like 12 things. Last night I couldn’t sleep because I was dreaming about something else as a prototype.”