The company known as SupCups was branded as a sustainable alternative to single use plastic cups, commonly seen in parties and social events. Launched on September 10 by Daphne Armstrong, a senior studying psychology and public policy, SupCups has a mission of creating a conversation on the issue of plastic waste.
“Most cups are made from polystyrene, which cannot be recycled.” Armstrong says. “These cups just go into the landfill and into the ocean. It takes around 450 to 1000 years to decompose into micro plastics. So, our cups try to provide a sustainable alternative.”
Despite lacking background knowledge in entrepreneurship or business, Armstrong was inspired to create SupCups from her passion on the issue of climate change.
“Every day I would go to high school with a brand new plastic water bottle in my lunch. In the Sophomore year of college, I lived with my best friend.” Armstrong says. “She started telling me about the environmental impact of eating meat, and then we watched some documentaries. That tiny like conversation has impacted my life in insane ways.”
The product itself is a high quality stainless steel cups with a red powder finish and a laser-engraved logo sold individually for $10 and in sets of 22 for $100. The business mostly targets college students in Los Angeles but, as of late, has also been marketed to alumni aged 25-27 as a result of the football season. SupCups have also been seeing online in over seventeen states.
In terms of manufacturing, SupCups mostly imports stainless steel from China by a factory that has met international environmental standards. However, Armstrong would feel it would more ideal to find a stainless steel supplier in the US to reduce cost of shipping.
While team behind SupCups is small, they are passionate about the business’ social cause and are looking to expand further by adding individuals who have experience with marketing.
“I’ve learned everything just from like asking people watching YouTube tutorials and online resources. So I know that people can learn new skills.” Armstrong says “I also need people who are motivated, wants to learn and cares deeply about the issue of climate change.”
Armstrong credits strong, female mentors and institutions in USC like the Blackstone Launchpad and classes on climate change for help in gaining experience for the startup world.
“My mentor and friends Ripley Raider does a jumpsuit company and always has my back in terms of helping me with the business.” Armstrong says. “While I lack experience, I’m okay with it because the good thing about not being an expert in anything is that it provides you an opportunity to do things the new way.”
In the near future, SupCups plans to build its online brand and spread to other universities by creating a brand ambassador program on the different campuses. The business is also planning on raising awareness on USC by having SupCup parties with friends and classmates.
The ultimate goal is to set an example for other companies that it is possible to be sustainable and profitable
“It’s really awesome to have had this idea. I remember my mom because she was like “Are you actually going to go through with this plan.”” Armstrong says. “I feel like businesses often cut corners that damage the environment, and you have to be so intentional with building your company by setting systems in place to protect the environment.”