Innovation Spotlight: Custom Coffee Sleeves

Coffee, a staple in the American diet and routine.  Our lives revolve around coffee–or so the memes say.  “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my morning coffee”, reads a popular tagline plastered on corny merchandise at gift shops across America. Regardless on where you stand on coffee in popular culture, coffee is indeed a staple in the US.  It’s available pretty much everywhere you look.  From waiting rooms to the break room, coffee pots are an integral part of American life.  Coffee’s also been a consistent beverage rarely undergoing a new and improved recipe phase or brand overhaul.  For much of coffee’s history, it was espresso or drip brewed coffee. Only recently has coffee seen flavors and new brewing methods.  However, it’s not just the way in which coffee is brewed or crafted that’s changing.  The way in which we sell, package, and market coffee’s also changed.

Take a look at your coffee sleeve next time you go to a university cafe or local hangout, it might just have a custom printed coffee sleeve.  See how one St. Louis-based company, Sleeve-A-Message is changing the way in which even the smallest cafes are marketing their coffee.

Since Starbuck’s rise to power in the 90s, the coffee sleeve has remained consistent in that it was simply a way to avoid burning your hands as you carried hot coffee.  Sure, there was branding on the side of the sleeve but the branding mimicked what was directly under the sleeve.  Additionally, some coffee chains and even local cafes came under fire for offering sleeves.  Sleeves had been constructed out of heavy cardboard and plastics meaning that both the production and disposal of the sleeves put stress on the environment.  Some smaller cafes opted not to supply them due to cost concerns.  Sleeve-A-Message, a St. Louis-based startup, is changing the sleeve (and the coaster).

Custom Coffee Sleeves: Variable Printing and Sustainable

Sleeve-A-Message offers customers small or large batch sleeve printing.  This means that coffee sleeves are affordable regardless of how many a customer desires.  It also means that even non-commercial consumers could purchase custom coffee sleeves without having to purchase thousands.  However, it’s the variable printing that really differentiates Sleeve-A-Message from the competition.  Variable printing allows customers to include a variety of designs and messages unique to a certain promotion or season.  Younger coffee drinkers are extremely into customized and personalized service making variable printing important.  Variable printing also gives a coffee drinker something to share on social media.

Additionally, Sleeve-A-Message features sleeves printed with a water-based ink.  The water-based ink and post-consumer cardboard allow for the product to be produced and recycled without harm to the environment.  Sleeve-A-Message also participates in a program so that for every 7,000 sleeves printed, one tree will be planted in an urban neighborhood.

Sleeve-A-Message allows for even the smallest coffee shops to show off their creativity.  Sleeve-A-Message features both custom printed coffee sleeves as well as custom printed coasters suiting both commercial and non-commercial needs.

Learn more: Sleeve-A-Message Business Spotlight

Top 3 Car Sharing Apps

The Top 3 Car Sharing Apps to Sign-Up For

We’ve all heard of ridesharing apps.  These apps, primarily Uber and Lyft, allow users to ride in other user’s cars for a fee.  They’ve revolutionized the way in which we travel, however, there’s a new wave of transportation applications on the way.

Car sharing is a fairly new concept of renting shared vehicles.  These vehicles can either be owned by the ride sharing company, a rental car group, or private individual.  They’re typically easier and more convenient than traditional rental car companies.  More importantly, they’re cheaper and better suited to regular use.  Overall, car sharing is a great way to save on transportation if you live in a major urban area.  To save you some time and effort, we’ve compiled the top three car sharing apps around.

The Top 3 Car Sharing Apps of 2017
The Top 3 Car Sharing Apps of 2017

#3 Turo

Turo is the odd one out in this list because the service doesn’t feature a monthly or annual membership.  Turo also doesn’t feature any fleet or shared vehicle services.  Turo is as basic as it gets, allowing users to rent out their cars for a little or as long as they choose.

Insurance is provided by a third-party group and users pick the maximum amount of miles a day renters are allowed to put on their vehicles without being charged by the mile.  Prices vary directly with location and vehicle type.  A Prius in Kansas City might go for $30 a day while a Tesla in Los Angeles might go for $400 a day.  Turo offers a lot of flexibility.

Unlike the other applications and services on this list, Turo doesn’t partner with businesses or schools.  Additionally, renters under 30 are penalized for their age.  Overall, the app is a great alternative to traditional car rental groups.

| Membership: No | Price: Varies | Partnerships: No |

Link: Turo Car Rental

#3 Turo
#3 Turo

#2 Enterprise Car Share

Enterprise is known for its traditional car rental service.  Enterprise Holdings consists of Enterprise Car Rental, National Car Rental, and Alamo Car Rental.  However, Enterprise is no stranger to venturing off into other areas of the transportation sector.

Enterprise Car Share is a car share program that offers monthly and annual subscriptions to its fleet of vehicles.  These vehicles include Prius’, Malibus, and Volts.  Users are required to sign-up for a membership.  However, a membership gives users access to free fuel and insurance.  Enterprises entry level membership charges by the mile while higher tier memberships allow users to drive up to 200 miles a day free of charge.

Enterprise Car Share has numerous partnerships with businesses, residential developments, and schools.  The service is available throughout the United States in most major metropolitan areas.

| Membership: Required | Price: Application Fee + Annual Fee | Partnerships: Yes |

Link: Enterprise Car Share

#2 Enterprise Car Share
#2 Enterprise Car Share

#1 ZipCar

ZipCar is by far the most refined car sharing service.  ZipCar is much like Enterprise Car Share, however, ZipCar is less expensive and more flexible.  Like Enterprise Car Share, ZipCar offers insurance and fuel with most memberships.  All ZipCar vehicles are fleet vehicles and are maintained by ZipCar.

ZipCar allows college students to waive not only the application fee but often times the annual fee as well.  Users are charged both hourly and by the mile after 200 miles.

| Membership: Required | Price: Application Fee + Annual Fee | Partnerships: Yes |

Link: ZipCar Car Sharing

#1 ZipCar Car Sharing
#1 ZipCar Car Sharing


Apple Reveals iOS 11 at its WWDC, New Hardware

Apple held its annual WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) yesterday in San Jose, California.  Though the iPhone 8 didn’t make an appearance, the event and the subsequent announcements of new hardware and software blew up on Facebook and Twitter.  This year’s WWDC introduced developers and consumers to Apple’s take on the smart speaker and virtual/augmented reality.  Overall, the event had somewhat of a “catch-up” vibe as most of Apple’s cutting-edge announcements were carbon copies of announcements made by Google, Samsung, and Amazon.  Still, Apple’s high-quality and beautifully crafted hardware and software are hard to beat and this year’s WWDC only confirmed this.

Among the various hardware and software unveilings and reveals was iOS 11.  iOS 11, Apple’s mobile operating system will be available to consumers later this year and follows the popular iOS 10 update.  There’s a lot to love, however, some feature like always, are completely useless.  Additionally, Apple unveiled it’s new iPad Pro lineup, new Apple Watches, and a $5,000 iMac Pro.  Here are a few highlights worth noting.

iOS 11 Unpacked

  • What is it: Apple’s newest successor to their mobile operating system.  iOS 11 will replace iOS 10.  iOS 10 received overwhelmingly popular feedback from consumers.
  • When will it be released: According to Apple, “this fall.”

iOS 11 is slated to bring a variety of new features to Apple’s mobile platforms.  One major update will come to Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant.  The voice assistant will receive a new voice and be able to do more than with previous versions of the program.  Additionally, new professional features will be added to the camera application.  Augmented reality (AR) functionality will also be added.  To top off the update, a new app store will be available.