Frustrated by the amount of disposable packaging discarded at events and the amount of time it takes for disposable cups (including biobased plastics) to degrade, Chelsea Briganti and Leigh Ann Tucker created a “biodegredible” – biodegradable and edible – cup. Last week, the women pitched their startup, Loliware, on the ABC show “Shark Tank” and secured a $600,000 deal for 25 percent of their company.
"You can throw them in the grass or disintegrate them in a matter of minutes with hot water," Briganti explained to The Guardian. "For every cup eaten [or composted], we are saving a plastic cup from entering the landfill. […] Billions of plastic cups are entering the landfill every year. If Loliware replaces even a small percentage, that would have far-reaching impact."
Loliware has come a long way from its humble $10,000 Kickstarter campaign in January 2011. The co-founders ended up with more money than they expected from the “Shark Tank” investors – they initially asked for $150,000 in exchange for 10 percent equity, but when they disclosed that they had $600,000 left to raise on their $1 million round of funding, the sharks agreed to fund it.
Robert Herjavec wanted to make a deal, but the co-founders accepted an offer of $600,000 from Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran for 25 percent equity. According to Kevin O’Leary, Loliware tastes like licorice.
As Collectively reported earlier this year, the cups are made with organic cane sugar, organic tapioca syrup, vegan gelatin derived from seaweed, and flavoring and coloring that “strives to be natural,” as well as a confectionary sugar coating.
Image Credit: Loliware / Collectively
Four flavors are currently available: Yuzu Citrus, Matcha Green Tea, Tart Cherry, and Vanilla Bean. A pack of four cherry-flavored cups is currently available for $14.99 on the Loliware website and a pack of 16 cups – four of each flavor – is available for $49.99 (free shipping is included for the U.S.). The cost of the cups is one of the company’s main concerns.
“The product we have is for special occasions and events, which can range from a picnic to a large outdoor concert. Weddings are another interesting use,” Tucker recently told The Guardian. “But we do want to bring costs down as we develop the product line and different materials.”
The idea behind Loliware is similar to Skipping Rocks Lab’s Ooho! – biodegradable, edible water “blobs” that could eliminate or drastically reduce plastic water bottle use. Skipping Rocks Lab is still sorting through challenges related to transportation and possibly resealing their product, as Ooho! can only be consumed once, and cannot yet be refilled. Loliware, on the other hand, can be refilled throughout an event like any other cup, as long as it isn’t washed with hot water. However, the co-founders did not design the cups for continuous reuse.