From wind turbines to scarves, the young entrepreneurs that make up our 2013 class of America’s Coolest College Start-ups have created products that range from the high-tech and cutting edge to the simple and timeless. The items themselves may vary but an over-arching theme emerges: each product was created with the vision of making the world a better (in some cases sweeter, in some cases warmer) place, be it by giving back to the community, reducing the carbon foot-print, or simply promoting local artists.
Rich, dark and sweet – what’s not to love? Jama Cocoa truffles come in six sinful flavors: Hawaiian (a balance of bitter and sweet), Venezuelan (notes of caramel and almond), Peruvian (fruity), Colombian (spiced with chili), Madagascan (a hint of cherry) and Ecuadorian (caramel and cherry with cacao powder). With contents this sweet, the packaging is the icing; shoppers can select their chocolate box’s artwork (from a selection of works by local Baltimore artists). Cost: $24 (for a box of 12)
Read more about Jama Cocoa
WaterDrop is in the business of making humanitarianism fashionable. The company sells stylish, handcrafted sandals with a purpose. Inspired by companies like TOMS, WaterDrop employs Kenyan locals to produce sandals from recycled materials, such as old tires. The shoes are then sold on the U.S. market; all profits, however, return to Africa, where they are used to build water wells. Cost: $47 - $52
Read more about WaterDrop Shop
The sobering truth: drunk driving, especially among young people, is a deadly epidemic: in the U.S., every single day, close to 30 people die in car crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. Alcohoot, the company behind a breathalyzer device that wirelessly connects to a smartphone and mobile app, aims to decrease these numbers by making it easy for drivers to test their blood alcohol level before getting behind the wheel. Cost: $90 (app download is free)
Read more about Alcohoot
SoulScarf is in the business of knitting together fashion with philanthropy. For every infinity scarf sold, the company donates 20% of the proceeds to the charity of the customer’s choice, warming their necks and (presumably) their hearts in one fell swoop. Cost: $44
Read more about SoulScarf
VIRES Engineering has a lot going on: the company is working on four revolutionary products in four different industries simultaneously: an all-mechanical, super energy efficient transmission, a plastic recycling machine that compacts plastic bottles into pellets that can be sent back to the soda company for re-use, a wing design for unmanned aerial vehicles, and (in case you thought they were slacking) a high-power, cheaply manufactured wind turbine.
Read more about VIRES
Losing a wallet is universally awful, a truly miserable situation; luckily, PayTango believes it’s also a scenario that can become a thing of the past. The payment system company has developed a way to link credit card information to a user’s fingerprints. To register, users touch two fingerprints to a screen, swipe the card whose data they wish to associate with their prints, type in a phone number and BAM. Purchasing power at your finger tips, no wallet necessary.
Read more about PayTango