Welcome to On Small Business’s series spotlighting interesting crowdfunding campaigns. Every week, we’ll feature a new company or individual attempting to raise money through these new online portals.
Who: Joseph Hyman, 27, a mechanical engineer.
What: MoJoe, a travel mug with a built-in coffee maker.
Where: Columbia, Md.
Raised: $43,109 (as of Dec. 30) of a $20,000 goal. The campaign goes through Jan. 29.
What’s the pitch?
Joseph Hyman got the idea for MoJoe while he was camped out at the library his junior year of college. It was past midnight and he really wanted a cup of coffee. But he knew if he left the library at that hour, he wouldn’t want to come back.
“That’s when it hit me: Why isn’t there a way to make my own coffee here?” Hyman said.
He graduated in 2011 and got a day job. A few years later, he was still thinking about his idea.
That’s when he decided to round up a few friends to help develop MoJoe (short for Mobile Cup of Joe), a travel mug that doubles as a portable coffee maker. They invested about $60,000 to get started.
How does it work?
The device, which sells for $69 on Kickstarter, works much like a conventional coffee maker: You pour water into a reservoir, drop in a reusable filter, add ground coffee, shut the lid and press a button.
From there, it takes six to 10 minutes to brew a cup of coffee. The MoJoe can be powered by a battery pack, or plugged into a wall or a car. Green and red LED lights signal when the cup is done brewing.
“People say, this is so silly, why don’t you just make your coffee at home?,'” Hyman said. “But it’s not our intention to replace your coffee maker at home. This is for times when you’re on the go.”
Hyman, who drinks four cups of coffee a day, routinely uses his MoJoe to brew coffee in his car. He also uses it during off-site work assignments. Once, he even brewed a cup of coffee during his cousin’s high school basketball game.
“As soon as it’s done, you can literally drink right from the device,” he said.
What’s next for MoJoe?
A hot cup of coffee is enough for some people.
But for others, like Hyman, it’s just a starting point.
“The next big question is: What about sugar and cream?,” he said. “We knew there had to be a solution for that, too.”
His solution: Packages of powdered creamer and sugar, modeled after Crystal Light’s On The Go Mix Sticks, that can be easily poured into the MoJoe before or after brewing coffee. (A three-month subscription of MoJoe’s to-go sticks — 30 each of coffee, creamer and sugar — is sold for $59 through Kickstarter.)
Hyman has other ideas in the works too, including a canvas-and-leather MoJoe backpack with waterproof pockets. Eventually, he says, he hopes to sell MoJoe cups and accessories at campus bookstores, as well as specialty stores like REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
“Often times, active coffee lovers don’t have many options,” Hyman said, “We’re trying to change that.”
Editor’s note: Our coverage in this series does not constitute an endorsement. For more information about crowdfunding, please check out this SEC Fact Sheet.