April 12, 2011 -- Young inventors Dave Petrillo and Dave Jackson may have solved a problem that has frustrated many an office warrior – the scalding cup of coffee. But It's not just their product that's innovative. The funding for their Coffee Joulies, a product that cools scalding drinks down to their optimal temperature and keeps the drink at its optimal drinking level, came from a social media site that facilitates crowd-sourced funding for entrepreneurs: Kickstarter.
So what is a Coffee Joulie, and why would I want it anywhere near my cup of Joe? The small bean-shaped stainless steel Joulies are each about the size of a large ice cube and are filled with a non-toxic material designed to regulate the temperature of hot beverages. "If you can deal with ice in your drink, you can deal with these in your drink," says Petrillo.
The liquid found inside the Joulies is the key ingredient that regulates a steaming cup of coffee. The substance (its formula is a trade secret) liquefies as it absorbs heat until it reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit. At that point, the substance starts to harden again, releasing stored energy and keeping the temperature of the cup around 140 degrees.
The beans last a lifetime with proper care (think silverware), and are completely safe, according to the two Daves. "The mug you drink your coffee out of is probably made out of the same stainless steel [the beans are made from], so there is absolutely no problem there. The stuff that's inside is completely edible and food based. It's so non-toxic that you could drink it," Jackson told ABC News.
Kickstarter is a two-year-old company that has becoming the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. So far, 500,000 people have pledged over $50 million to start-ups just like Dave and Dave's Joulies, getting rewards like products for their investment (you won't get a piece of the new Facebook here).
"It's like a farmer's market where you're talking to the guy who is growing your food," Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler told ABC News.
The site allows people to post their ideas and concepts and ask for "pledges" from Kickstarter's user base. If the combined pledges reach the goal set by the entrepreneur (or surpasses it), they get the money, minus a 5 percent fee for Kickstarter. If funding does not hit the goal, no money changes hands, so it is for companies with products and/or hard start and end points.
Kickstarter Funds Joulies
The two Daves set a goal of $9,500 for their Coffee Joulies, but they blew past that mark within weeks. So far they've raised $141,678 from the site. Strickler expects the figure to pass $200,000.
"Once our story got picked up, we were doing thousands of dollars in sales a day and watching our story spread across the Internet, literally minute by minute," said Jackson.
Starting Work and Creating Jobs
The funding Dave and Dave got through Kickstarter has allowed them to start manufacturing and creating jobs.
Before they had the money and pre-orders afforded them by Kickstarter, Coffee Joulies were going to be manufactured in Mexico, but now the Daves are bringing those jobs to New York State. They are reopening a factory in Oneida, N.Y., a silverware manufacturing hub that had lost its luster. So far, a drop-hammer operator who had been out of work for months has already been called back to work.
So you want to post your idea on Kickstarter? Yancey Strickland says your best bet for is to make a video telling the story of why you want to raise money.