Frustrated Over Cold To-Go Coffee, Elon University Student Invents Insulative Cup Sleeve

By Isaac Groves
Times-News, Burlington, N.C.


Maddie Tamblyn is a coffee lover and now hopes to be a coffee entrepreneur.

“I thought of the idea out of frustration,” she said. “I was basically trying to solve the problem for myself, and other people saw it, and ‘it’ caught on.”

During a summer internship, she said, the Elon University business and event management major’s morning routine started with to-go coffee that, luckily for her, got cold before she was finished.

Frustration led her to invent a new kind of coffee sleeve — those cardboard rings that go around to-go coffee cups to protect drinkers’ hands. But instead of just protecting your hand from the heat coming from the cup, it keeps the heat in the cup for about six times as long as it would stay without it, she said.

“It keeps your coffee at drinking temperature, which is about 100 to 120 degrees, for up to three hours,” Tamblyn said.

“Typically, a cup of coffee would fall to room temperature in 30 minutes.”

She used the Elon maker space to make a few prototypes, and got advice from the Elon physics department about how to test it.

She is still perfecting the design as she works toward getting it manufactured, but she has a working, recyclable prototype and a company, Maddogg Heat Sleeves, which is on Facebook and Instagram.

“A nickname my dad gave me when I was younger was mad dog, and it kind of caught on with my friends,” she said.

THIS IS ONE OF THOSE ideas just about everybody gets excited about right away. In fact, Tamblyn won first place in the January San Francisco Elevator Pitch event. A panel of investors heard her two-minute pitch — the one you give someone when they are stuck with you somewhere like an elevator — and gave her feedback. She beat out eight other pitchers and got some interest.

“I have investors contacting me, but I haven’t made my decision yet,” she said.

It was her 22nd birthday.

“It was a good day.”

How the sleeve works is a trade secret until the patent comes through, Tamblyn said. She will say, however, that it looks a lot like a regular sleeve from one side.

“One side of the sleeve looks completely different than you’d expect to see,” she said.

The product’s target is upscale coffee shops like Starbucks, with high-end, high-cost drinks — think $5 venti macchiatos. The sleeve would cost the customer another quarter or less, and cost the coffee shop a couple of cents.

At this point, Maddogg Heat Sleeves has a product, logo, social media presence, working prototypes, two lawyers and a lot of research. Tamblyn is starting a Kickstarter campaign to start raising the many thousands of dollars it will take to get her product into Starbucks.

She has dreams for her company’s future as well as plans.

“Eventually I would like a portion of the proceeds to go to animal shelters,” she said.

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