SRU student’s “HotLips” invention wins $5,000


david tini

David Tini, a music education major from Altoona, invented a trumpet mouthpiece heater he named “HotLips.” The invention won Tini a $5,000 cash prize at the fifth annual Student Business Plan Competition sponsored by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.

April 8, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's David Tini, a music education major from Altoona, earned second-place honors and a $5,000 cash prize at the fifth annual Student Business Plan Competition sponsored by Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education.

Tini developed "HotLips," an attachment to the mouthpiece of brass musical instruments designed to warm the instrument's mouthpiece for improved musician performance during cold weather performances.

Tini came up with the idea two and half years ago when he was playing trumpet for the SRU Marching Pride during an away football game at Edinboro University, where the temperature was just 35 degrees.

"My lips weren't vibrating the way they were supposed to be," Tini. "I was like, man, I need a mouthpiece warmer and it doesn't exist. So I made one."

Following nearly 30 months of prototype testing and development, the U.S. government awarded Tini a patent on the $30 warmer.

Musicians can attach the silicon heater over their instruments mouthpiece, thereby heating the instrument's mouthpiece to 50 or more degrees.

david tini with award

"HotLips" comes with a rechargeable battery pack good for 15,000 uses.

Blaise Delfino, a licensed hearing aid dispenser and audio engineer and a graduate student studying speech-language pathology at East Stroudsburg University, captured first place and a $10,000 award for "Fader Plugs."

Fader plugs are designed to provide for "controlled decibel reduction in a highly functional and fashionable design." Delfino's winning business plan included a blueprint for research and development followed by commercialization of the product.

The $2,500 third-place prize went to Brendan Shepherd of Clarion University, who developed a plan to establish a home remodeling business. Growth of the company will be into residential rental properties and real estate development.

The annual Business Plan Competition is designed to provide student entrepreneurs a real-world opportunity to pitch their original business plans and to win funds to assist in the start-up of their businesses. Students from the 14 State System universities are invited to participate in the competition each year.

A total of 223 students/student teams submitted their intent to compete in the competition last fall. Of those, 109 made it through the first round of judging, from which 17 entrants were selected as semi-finalists. Ten teams were selected as finalists.

Another pair of SRU students was among this year's finalists, including:

  • Tara McQuaide, a senior marketing major from Allison Park, for the development of a company to supply various apparel and accessory items that feature endangered species as the key theme; and
  • Michael Kernan, a senior sustainable management major from Slippery Rock, for the establishment of a modern, multi-themed paintball complex

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