Published: Dec. 15, 2023 By

Maddie Cataldo making fire logs for Blazin' JoeThe Leeds School of Business not only provided an education but also helped me and my business to thrive! My name is Maddie Cataldo, and I am so excited to share the story and product of Blazin’ Joe, a company I created while attending the Leeds School of Business. For those who do not know, Blazin’ Joe is an all-natural fire log made out of coffee chaff, a byproduct of the roasting process. Currently sent to landfills, chaff's decomposition releases methane, contributing to environmental harm. Blazin’ Joe is on a mission to make the coffee industry circular by providing people with eco-friendly and all-natural fires. Unlike our competition, which produces smelly artificial logs packed with paraffin wax that are known for their health risks, our logs are made with plant-based soy wax.

Blazin’ Joe was born out of the Leeds School of Business's New Venture Creation (ESBM 4830) class, a capstone class needed for my Bachelor of Science in Business with an emphasis on strategy and entrepreneurship. My team and I owe our business success to the inspiration and mentorship of the remarkable Brad Werner, Faculty Director for the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship. Under Brad's guidance, we pushed Blazin’ Joe to its limits, encouraged to strive for excellence, and given the tools to turn a spark of an idea into a reality. The Deming Center, a hub for aspiring entrepreneurs like me, became a second home during this transformative journey.

feet by the fire and Blazin' Joe packagingTo further Blazin' Joe's struggles and triumphs, one of its pivotal moments was the opportunity to participate in the 2023 New Venture Challenge, particularly the Female Founder competition. The experience was challenging and empowering and helped lay the foundation for what Blazin’ Joe is today.

After graduation,  I took a detour from Blazin' Joe to South Africa as part of the Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in South Africa program, immersing myself in consulting for disadvantaged entrepreneurs living in South African townships. This hiatus taught me invaluable lessons: how to analyze a business from an external perspective, make a tangible impact on a business, navigate resource constraints and, above all, the grit required for success.

Since returning to Boulder, Colorado, I have dedicated myself to Blazin' Joe full-time. The journey continued with milestones such as completing the Boulder Small Business Development Center's accelerator program and the Crowdsolve Climate Startup Bootcamp. These experiences refined Blazin’ Joe, preparing us to bring our eco-friendly fire logs to the world.

Blazin' Joe selling merchandise at Sanitas Brewing


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