Tom Burden joined the military right out of high school and was trained to work on F16’s in the Air Force. After his service, he was studying for a degree in mechanical engineering and working on aircraft for the Air National Guard in Toledo, Ohio. But he faced a problem common to anyone doing mechanical work on sensitive and expensive equipment like fighter jets. Where do I put my tools so they will be close at hand, but they won’t scratch the surface, slide off onto the floor—or worse into some fragile and critical part of the aircraft?
Burden envisioned a specialized mat that would stay in place on any surface, make no scratches, and hold onto tools at many angles. He spent three years experimenting on polymer mixes and eventually found the precise formula for a flexible, non-abrasive mat that would stay in place on any surface and at extreme angles. The material is also anti-static, a feature that is of critical importance when working with sensitive electronic components. Perhaps most impressive is that this mat is chemical resistant but cleans up easily with soap and water.
Grypshon Industries was established in 2013 and University of Wisconsin Extension Division for Business and Entrepreneurship, through a program called Ideadvance, provided seed capital and guidance for the development of a prototype and manufacture of Grypmats. Burden began selling Grypmats online. He entered a competition at the Toledo Startup Weekend and won first prize in late 2013.
In July of 2016, Burden participated in the Experimental Aircraft Association Convention and gained six distributors who were convinced of the potential in this product, and sold 30,000 mats over the eight days of the convention.
On January 4, 2017, Grypshon initiated a Kickstarter campaign, primarily as a way to assess interest in the mats from areas other than aviation and determine the popularity of different sizes and designs. A modest fundraising goal of $10,000 was established. While Burden was convinced of the value of his product, he was still shocked when the campaign took off like one of the F16’s that had sparked his idea. The goal of $10,000 was met in 10 hours. By January 13, Grypshon Industries had reached 300%, and when the campaign ended on February 3, 2017, they had 1,339 backers and a total of $113,539 had been raised.
The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) holds one of the largest automotive aftermarket trade shows in the world and Grypshon was selected as one of 10 finalists for the SEMA LaunchPad competition at the Las Vegas convention this year. The convention ended on November 3, 2017 and Grypshon Industries not only received a 2018 Global Media Award for showcasing one of the best new products this year, but were named the 2017 Grand Prize Winner in the LaunchPad competition!
An appearance on Shark Tank on November 12, 2017 and participation in the Performance Racing Industry Convention at the Indianapolis Convention Center, December 7-10, 2017, are the next stops in this exciting journey.