Sisters develop sustainable package protection product

Regina and Mary Pilotte (photo courtesy of Mary Pilotte)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A pair of sister entrepreneurs are looking to improve upon the materials used to protect items being shipped in the mail. Mary Pilotte, an engineering professor at Purdue University, and her sister Regina, a military veteran, have developed Jammed Pack, which they say creates better protection for shipping contents and is also more environmentally friendly. The product uses granular jamming technology, which creates a conforming cushion that will adjust and shape to any item that is being shipped.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Mary Pilotte said they had found the concept of granular jamming hadn’t been translated into the retail space.

“What we did is kind of reverse engineered the design by thinking about what are the problems around packaging,” said Pilotte. “First and foremost, it’s not friendly to the environment. Second of all, what do you when you have all of those crazy packing peanuts in your home and you’re worried about maybe your dogs eating them or, god forbid, a small child eating them? So we started thinking about all the ways that our current experience as consumers really are unsatisfactory and just worked our way down methodically to try and eliminate those hazards, hassles and concerns.”

The Jammed Pack is biodegradable, making it more environmentally-friendly than styrofoam packing peanuts, bubble wrap or inflated mini-cushions. Pilotte says they are in the final stages of product development and entering into the testing phase.

“We feel like we’re on the last step of product development. We’re tooling up our materials and we’re very excited to be partnering with a supplier that’s also located here in Indiana.”

Pilotte says the venture has been privately funded up to this point and credit the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Indiana as motivation to start the company.

“We may not look like the most typical entrepreneurs, but there’s just so much excitement in Indiana for entrepreneurship and there’s a ton of success stories; you can’t help but hear about them time and time again. We’re two smart people and we thought, ‘Why not? Why not us, too?’ We have interesting backgrounds, but more importantly, we have personal experiences that add value to the product development and so I think it was really just the encouragement of watching others succeed and feeling like we could do it, too.”

The sisters are hoping to launch the Jammed Pack product this spring with the goal of having people using the product to ship their holiday items at the end of the year.