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Duluth entrepreneur finding a market in temperature control

MC Cubed team from left: Nick Johnson, product designer; Leslie Broadway, risk assessment specialist; Nathan Lipinski, CEO; Megan Swanson, director of client services; Alex King, chemist. Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com1 / 2
MC Cubed CEO Nathan Lipinski displays prototypes of StarShip (left) and Freezer Friend. During the shipping process, StarShip indicates whether a package has maintained a safe temperature. Freezer Friend is placed inside a freezer to show the freezer is maintaining the correct temperature. Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com2 / 2

A Duluth entrepreneur with a few patents, funded by a few Instagram accounts, intends to revolutionize shipping, medicine, food and even insurance.

"We're just learning so many different aspects of what this could potentially be used for," said Nathan Lipinski, CEO of MC Cubed. "The application is growing faster than I can even comprehend."

The product is simple — it's a visual indicator that the temperature has or had risen to a certain level, even if it returned to the right level later. There are already some complex and internet-connected devices that do that, but this offers an inexpensive solution to the growing need to keep things cool from Point A to Point B — whether that's an Amazon warehouse to your house or an ebola vaccine delivery.

"You on the receiving side can ensure your package is delivered safely," Lipinski said.

Nathan LipinskiThe Zimmerman, Minn., native debuted his initial invention, the Freezer Friend, at a Shark Tank Entrepreneurship Competition at the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2017.

"My solution to the foodborne epidemic is, simply, a tube," he said at the time.

After winning the $1,500 top prize, he decided the concept can do more than let cabin owners know if the food in their freezers may be at risk. Now the 24-year-old is taking a year off medical school in Duluth to pursue those possibilities with StarShip.

"I have one year to get it to market," Lipinski said.

Lipinski and his two employees work from the Regus shared office spaces in downtown Duluth, where they're busy reaching out to potential customers and manufacturers. The cost promises to be so low that each package could be monitored for potentially dangerous temperature fluctuations that could spoil food or medicine or ruin industrial materials.

"Talking to an insurance agency, they could potentially use this product to approve or deny claims," Lipinski said. "It's multi-use, multifaceted for a large variety of different users."

His company, MC Cubed, was founded in 2016 with the tagline "manipulating chemical properties for practical use." And while Lipinski certainly has a brain for science, the creative side of his cerebrum is firing just as well.

It was his collection of Instagram accounts that paid for the patents, after all.

"I would sell advertising that could generate between $1,500 and $2,000 a month," he said.

As interest builds once the product is certified and released, Lipinski hopes to expand the offerings and tailor products more specifically to their end users.

"My thought behind this was start with something relatively simple, then make enough money and invest that back into something more complex."

Brooks Johnson

Brooks is an investigative/enterprise reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.

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