Austin, Texas has quickly grown to be a hot spot for entrepreneurship, drawing startups and co-founders from across the country. The University of Texas at Austin has capitalized on this sector and offers Longhorn Startup Lab, an intensive project based course, to its students. Led by Josh Baer, CEO of Capital Factory, the class offers weekly mentoring sessions with entrepreneurs in Austin as well as working space at Capital Factory, a startup incubator in Austin.

Memory Plush is one of the many startups to emerge from the class, offering a lovable travel companion in the form of Waffles, a memory foam Corgi plush. I sat down with founders Sherrill Feng and Andy Shaw to discuss Memory Plush, their inspiration, and what Waffles the Corgi could mean for the well-being of their customers.

bread, cookie, cake, pastry, sweet
Bianca Hsieh

What is Memory Plush and what is so special about its features?

S: Our company is Memory Plush and we currently make memory foam Corgis. Waffles, who is our Corgi, has memory foam cushion inside of him and you can remove that cushion through the Velcro openings on the belly, perfect for washing.

A: His fur is soft and after washing him, the quality is not only retained, but he gets even softer. We use memory foam because that solves the problem of pillows not retaining their shape.

cookie, cake
Bianca Hsieh

S: Our company is Memory Plush and we currently make memory foam corgis. Waffles, who is our corgi, has memory foam cushion inside of him, which you can remove for washing through the Velcro openings on the belly.

A: His fur is soft even after washing, and he not only retains his quality, but gets even softer. We use memory foam because that solves the problem of pillows not retaining their shape.

Why should people buy Waffles?

S: You can use Waffles for travelling and going to work, and he’s a good substitute for when you can't bring your dog to certain places. He's light and companion sized.

How did you get your idea?

S: We both played with stuffed animals as kids because they are fun and comfortable. However, when they would start smelling and we washed them, the stuffed animals would lose their shape.

A: One day when we were walking home from Longhorn Startup Seminar, we had our "A-ha!" moment and realized we could fix this problem by putting memory foam into our stuffed animals. Additionally, if we made the stuffed animal into a pillow shape, it would have more utility for people and create a better product.

sweet, cake, cookie
Bianca Hsieh

S: You can use Waffles for travel and going to work, and he’s a good substitute for when you can't bring your dog to certain places. He's light, comfortable, and companion-sized.

What are some of your long term goals?

A: For every Waffles purchased through our Kickstarter campaign, we will be donating $1 to Queen's Best Stumpy Dog Rescue. We also want to adopt a lifestyle marketing approach, rather than branding Waffles as a toy or gimmick. Rather than selling a product, we want to sell our product as a lifestyle.

Both of you mentioned the inspiration for your product stems from that childhood nostalgia. Why is this emotion important?

S: As children, we both played with stuffed animals and when you get something like that from people you care about, you develop an emotional attachment. As you grow older, you want to make sure those sentimental things stay in good condition and that they last. When I went to college and came back, I was sad when I realized a lot of these toys that I treasured looked dirty and simply weren't in the same conditions as before. You know for children who really care about their toys and people who care about their household items, longevity is important.

A: We sold Waffles to college students here at UT. One girl likes to use him while studying because his form is perfect to lay your chin on. Another person used him to place a tablet on while watching videos and uses him as a lap pillow. College is a stressful time and studies have shown that animals “can help reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and isolation.” However, owning a pet or interacting with animals regularly is not always feasible so we wanted a product that not only helped people with their mental and emotional health, but was accommodating to their lifestyles as well.

cake, water
Bianca Hsieh

S: We both played with stuffed animals as kids. However, when they would start smelling and we washed them, the stuffed animals would lose their shape.

A: One day when we were walking home from Longhorn Startup Seminar, we had our "A-ha!" moment and realized we could fix this problem by putting memory foam into stuffed animals. Additionally, if we made the stuffed animal into a pillow shape, it would have more utility for people and create a better product.

Finally, where can we find you?

You can find us on most social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Kickstarter campaign, and our website. Follow us on Instagram and tag us if you own a corgi for a chance to be featured and win your very own Waffles!

A: For every Waffles purchased through our Kickstarter campaign, we will be donating $1 to Queen's Best Stumpy Dog Rescue. We also want to adopt a lifestyle marketing approach, rather than branding Waffles as a toy or gimmick. Rather than selling a product, we want to sell a lifestyle.

S: As children, we both played with stuffed animals. When you get a toy like that from people you care about, you develop an emotional attachment. As you grow older, you want to make sure those sentimental objects stay in good condition and last. When I went home after college, I was sad when I realized a lot of these toys I treasured looked dirty and simply weren't in the same condition as before. For children who really care about their toys, longevity is important.

A: We sold Waffles to college students here at UT. One girl likes to use him while studying because his form is perfect to lay your chin on. Another person uses him as a lap pillow or a surface to place their tablet on while watching videos. College is a stressful time and studies have shown that animals “can help reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and isolation.” However, owning a pet or interacting with animals regularly is not always feasible so we wanted a product that not only helped people with their mental and emotional health, but was also accommodating to their lifestyles.

You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Kickstarter campaign, and our website. Follow us on Instagram and tag us if you own a corgi for a chance to be featured and win your very own Waffles!