Tom B

My  tools rested in my pockets as I worked six feet off the ground, repairing an F-16. I awaited the grumbles from my supervisors, who would have to remind me tools weren’t allowed in my pockets, nor in the jet’s cabin. After complying with these requests, the tools would rest precariously atop the jet’s sleek metal surface. I needed an alternative solution, and found the answer sitting right at home, atop the dashboard in my mother’s car, where a non-slip mat held her cell phone in place.

I immediately recognized how this simple mat could be applied to my work repairing jets in the military. After finding the necessary materials, I crafted some prototypes for my non-slip tool mat, and moved from Ohio to Milwaukee after being accepted into a business accelerator. My company, Grypshon, may have started with that serendipitous discovery, but it remained in existence because after moving, I discovered the Ideadvance program, from UW-Extension’s Division for Business and Entrepreneurship.

Overall, Ideadvance has been like a godsend to be honest because that accelerator that I went to Milwaukee for…they didn’t up front any of the money that I was banking on. Without Ideadvance, I would’ve went bankrupt.

After Grypshon won seed fund money from Ideadvance, the program also put me in contact with the Experimental Aircraft Association in Oshkosh, hosts of the world’s largest annual air show. The networking opportunities at the event helped Grypshon meet several companies – including Boeing – interested in purchasing my non-slip tool mat, now called the GrypMat.

The key part is that they have a lot of connections and it was just like publicity was exploding. We have a list of people who are interested. We’re going to send the product out to everyone who’s interested once we get our inventory in.

As we finalized production of the GrypMat, our product and company needs were very fluid, something for which Ideadvance remained accommodating. I proposed everything around late July, maybe a little after July, and basically everything that I was going to spend the money on. A lot of that has changed and they haven’t held me to that which thank God because it’s been like six months and everything changes daily.

Those flexibilities are invaluable for me, knowing changes could come any time, like finding out my packaging will cost sixty cents extra after finishing a midnight shift during my deployment. When unforeseen costs like that emerge, I appreciate the ease with which Ideadvance assists financially.

As I continue my service in the military, I insist on growing Grypshon further. Luckily, my most recent deployment coincided with a fallow period, as I wait for our inventory to shift. The idea is that with the GrypMat, the profits from the GrypMat will grow other products. So the medical world was asking for a smaller GrypMat and I’ve had a couple other people ask for a smaller version so we’re willing to basically make one that will fit everyone. I appreciate Ideadvance more than words can explain.