Elon University senior Madison Tamblyn captured the attention of angel investors when a new invention she created on campus won first place in January’s San Francisco ElevatorPitch entrepreneurship event.
What good is spending $5 on a caramel macchiato when your drink grows cold in just a few minutes on the go? Why isn’t there a way to keep that drink steaming hot for longer stretches?
If you’re a coffee aficionado like Elon University senior Madison Tamblyn, you don’t wonder. You innovate. Then you name your creation the “Maddogg Heat Sleeve” and start winning entrepreneurship competitions.
Tamblyn’s heat sleeve, which she developed over the past year with help from Elon University’s Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, the Department of Physics, and the campus Maker Hub, won first place in January in a monthly event organized by a California tech start-up recruiting firm.
The San Francisco ElevatorPitch event sponsored by PeopleConnect gives early-stage startup entrepreneurs an opportunity to deliver pitches to a panel of seasoned angel investors. Tamblyn entered the event when she traveled to California as part of a Winter Term course, “Innovation in America” taught by faculty member Scott Kelly, which included visits to Facebook, Dropbox, Kleiner Perkins, Runway Incubator and Stanford University’s d.school.
The San Francisco entrepreneurship program consisted of 2-minute pitches followed by a brief question-and-answer exchange and, afterward, non-rebuttal feedback. Tamblyn outscored nine other participants, including veteran entrepreneurs and professionals. Scores were based on what the judges thought of ideas, chances for success and quality of the pitch.
“It was an amazing feeling to pitch my invention to investors and hear such positive feedback,” said Tamblyn, a management major from Cary, North Carolina. “The pitch was on my birthday, and getting to share my invention was the best gift I could have asked for. Many of my classmates and two professors came to support me.”
Tamblyn prefers to stay mum on how the heat sleeve works since her patent application is pending. She started developing the concept last summer and designed prototypes throughout the fall semester at the same time she was studying entrepreneurship with Professor Kevin O’Mara.
Tamblyn utilized Elon University’s Maker Hub to produce prototypes of the sleeve after O’Mara’s class visited the center. Associate Professor Benjamin Evans in the Department of Physics then helped Tamblyn test prototypes using lab equipment. After nine prototypes, she finalized the Maddogg Heat Sleeve in early January.
“Madison displayed both grace and strong determination throughout this whole process as she tries to pursue her venture,” said O’Mara, who serves as executive director of the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. “She had a vision for what she wanted to design, kept plugging away just like true entrepreneurs must do, and was very willing to put her ideas in front of others for view. Madison personifies what the Doherty Center is building at Elon.”
Throughout the design process, Tamblyn received valuable feedback from her family as well as her mentors. She credits her parents and sisters for their early support of the heat sleeve, as well as the professors whose mentoring played a pivotal role in bringing the Maddogg Heat Sleeve to fruition. Wes McGee, CEO of EyeMarker Systems, Inc., and chairman of KSI Data Sciences, is another mentor Tamblyn credits for her success.
Since returning from Silicon Valley, things have moved quickly for the Elon senior. Tamblyn is currently working toward the next steps of launching the Maddogg Heat Sleeve and is weighing potential partnerships and investors who believe in her idea.
“This prototype quickly became the most valuable thing I own,” she said. “I carried it with me everywhere while I was in Silicon Valley. I even carry it in my backpack on campus because you never know who you’re going to meet.
“It is very special seeing a dream you spend most of every day thinking about, starting to become a reality.”