What if you were sick of using disposable cups at your favorite coffee shop but didn’t want to carry around a reusable mug all day? If you could use a clean steel mug, leave it behind, and get a fresh one the next time around, would you?
Three GWSB graduate students, all candidates for Master of Science in Information Systems Technology (MSIST) degrees, are banking on it.
They have launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for “Greater DC Cup Share,” a sustainability start-up that aims to provide reusable stainless steel cups to stores and restaurants in the greater metropolitan Washington, D.C., area, beginning later this year.
The goal is to create a ubiquitous cup reuse system that will eventually eliminate millions of disposal cups from D.C.-area landfills. The company has raised $800 of its $3,000 goal so far.
Of course, many coffee shops already sell reusable mugs. What makes this concept different, said company founder and CEO Kevin Brown, is that it improves convenience for customers who want to avoid disposables.
“They don’t have to tote a cup around with them anymore,” said Brown, a fulltime U.S. Army captain and part-time MSIST student who is scheduled to get his degree in 2015. “They’re still doing a good thing for the environment, but now it’s very convenient.”
The company’s co-founders are also MSIST candidates at GWSB. Aneta Samkova is the company’s chief marketing officer (CMO), and Zicky Anumudu is the chief information officer (CIO). The team is looking to hire a fourth GWSB graduate student to serve as the company’s chief operating officer (COO).
Here’s how Greater DC Cup Share would work:
The company will provide stainless steel cups to establishments that will then sell them to customers for a one-time fee (Brown suggested $10.) Customers use the cups for their beverages, return them to any participating location, and get a token that allows them to get another clean, stainless steel cup next time.
Meanwhile, the used cups are collected, cleaned at a central facility, and sent back to the stores and restaurants to cycle back through the system.
Brown said the company would earn a small profit every time a cup cycles through, so getting lots of cups into as many establishments as possible is critical for long-term success. Before that can happen, the practice has to catch on with the public.
Long-term is where the students’ MSIST training would come into play. If the company grows substantially, its founders will rely on technology and statistical analyses to track buying patterns and environmental benefits, including via a phone app. Brown, for instance, envisions a personal tracking system that will record how environmental benefits accrue every time someone uses a reusable cup.
“You’re talking about thousands of stores,” said Brown, admittedly a big coffee drinker who got the idea for the company while sitting on his couch, listening to a story about how coffee shops handle their cup waste. “Sustainability on a massive scale. That’s what the goal is.”
Posted by gwsb on August 13, 2013 | Filed under: GWSB News.