Victoria Gregory ’17 and Gabe Alba ’17 conceived of the idea for a rechargeable battery-operated drink warmer during a class exercise in 2.009 (Product Engineering Processes), building on skills they had learned in 2.008 (Design and Manufacturing II). Their product, the Coffee Cookie, attaches to the bottom of a disposable cup and maintains the temperature of the liquid within optimal drinking temperature (120 – 140 degrees Fahrenheit or 50 – 60 degrees Celsius), thereby extending the amount of time your coffee stays warm.
The two mechanical engineering majors immediately began devoting their energy to bringing the product to market. After pitching their idea to the board of the Sandbox Innovation Fund Program, they were awarded $10,000 to seed their venture. Over the winter break, they worked nonstop designing and developing a series of prototypes in dorm rooms and student makerspaces, including the MIT Electronics Research Society (MITERS) and BeaverWorks. Once the prototype was complete, they placed an order for 1,000 batteries from China and assembled the units themselves, releasing the finished product in the market the following spring.
Inspired by their love of making things, Victoria and Gabe ran with the idea for the Coffee Cookie as a way of putting their engineering skills to the test. It also served as a welcome break from another startup venture they’re involved in — building a miniature jet engine. Their entrepreneurship journey has also challenged them to look beyond the technical aspects of a product by focusing on how to get it into people’s hands.
Over the summer of 2017, Victoria and Gabe were granted the opportunity to travel to Hong Kong and China through Co-Founder’s Journey — a joint program between the MIT-China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (MIT-CHIEF) and MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node — and toured factories in Shenzhen, gaining an under-the-hood view of manufacturing facilities.
After graduating from MIT in June 2017, Victoria and Gabe moved to New York City to pursue Coffee Cookie as a full-time venture. They are planning to establish an assembly facility in Mexico that will manufacture an initial run of 10,000 units.