Go With the FLOE
LSU ME Student Creates Drinkware Line
BATON ROUGE – For LSU Mechanical Engineering graduate student Sean King, starting a business isn’t just about a bottom line. It’s about making a difference for those in need.
His business venture would not only bring an excellent commodity to South Louisiana, it would also create a ripple effect, helping people in other areas of the country gain access to one of nature’s most valuable resources—clean water.
King’s creation began on the patio of a local eatery on a hot July day while visiting with his family.
“I was sitting there talking to my parents, and my dad was saying how great it would be if someone invented a glass that could keep his drink cold,” said King, who is also a Baton Rouge High School alumnus. “After about 15 minutes on the patio, our drinks were warm. So, then I thought, I could do that. I actually know how to do that.”
Thanks to his classes on heat transfer with LSU Professors Michael Martin and Ingmar Schoegl, King did, in fact, know how to fix the problem. His solution was a 16-oz. glass with two layers of material separated by a vacuum, much like double-paned windows, which would make the ice last twice as long in the glass. This would keep the beverages closer to their original temperature and create little or no condensation on the outside.
“The glasses have the advantage of being able to maintain an internal vacuum between the inner and outer sleeves, which allowed us to increase the amount of time you can enjoy a beverage without ice from a few minutes to an hour,” King said.
While King currently has a provisional patent on what he has appropriately named the FLOE glass, he still needs to obtain the utility patent.
“Andy Maas (director of LSU’s Office of Innovation & Technology Commercialization) came out and explained the patent process to everyone,” King said. “You learn a little bit about how to give yourself an extra year. The provisional patent gives you an early start date.”
What’s equally impressive as the glass itself is that King wants to donate 15 percent of every FLOE product sold, including stickers and T-shirts, to the Flint Water Fund and the Appalachian Freshwater Initiative, both of which serve to help the people of Flint, Mich., and the Appalachian Mountains gain access to properly sanitized water.
“How the water initiatives came about is that I have always wanted to start a company that practices what I call responsible capitalism, where you are not only trying to benefit yourself,” King said. “If you own a company, you’re going to make enough money. But if you help other people, that’s more important in the long run.”
When King was living in Claremore, Okla., working as an intern for Baker Hughes in 2013, he received a letter from the water company saying that his water did not meet national standards.
“I did a little thinking about it,” he said. “That’s not something that should be happening in the U.S. If you look under the Appalachian Freshwater Initiative, over 50 percent of the 5,000 water systems serve 500 people or less. That’s something I wanted to give a voice to.”
King hopes to have success in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans markets and maybe one day see FLOE glassware in Southern California. The more glasses sold, the more money that can be donated to the clean water initiatives.
“I’m not out to make a trillion dollars,” King said. “What I would rather do is spend the money helping the people of Flint, Appalachia, or Claremore. One thing that I see as a common thread between these three places is that the people don’t have a voice. If there’s any way I can provide some assistance, that’s important to me. There’s a really great quote, ‘Anyone who thinks they’re too small to make a difference has never tried sleeping with a mosquito.’”
For more information on FLOE Drinkware, visit www.floe-drinkware.com or find it on social media using #GoWithTheFloe.
Contact: Libby Haydel