The Grypmat Before Shark Tank
A multi-purpose tool, the Grypmat is designed to keep your hardware in place, no matter where you want to put them. Made out of a special polymer-silicone blend, its specific properties allow it to be used on a variety of work surfaces—even at extreme angles. Resistant to chemicals, it comes with an insane grip that can hold tools on a number of work surfaces. Versatile and easy to use, it is the ultimate companion for mechanics, trade professionals, and more.
The brainchild of Tom Burden, an Air Force mechanic, the product had come to be after he grew tired of having all of his tools slide off of his aircraft during work. As it had happened, he had come up with the idea after seeing his mom’s non-slip mat on her dashboard. Realizing he could use the same principle to secure his tools, he got to work in his basement. In the end, it took him three years to develop the Grypmat—a high performance, non-slip, non-magnetic rubber mat that helps to keep tools in place.
In late 2013, Burden decided to showcase his product at the Toledo Startup Weekend. Not only did he win first prize, but he received a significant amount of positive feedback from users and mechanics at the event. With that, he moved his project towards the next step—large-scale production. In order to do so, however, he required funding. Thus in 2017, he created a Kickstarter campaign. An overwhelming success, he soon reached his goal and then some—by the end of it, he had raised more than $113,000. From there, the Grypmats were produced and sent across the world.
Within a few months, there was more news—Burden would be pitching the product on ABC’s hit reality series Shark Tank. Featured in the ninth season, the episode eventually aired on November 12, 2017.
The Grypmat on Shark Tank
Walking up and standing next to what appears to be a part of a fighter jet plane, Tom Burden introduces himself before telling the sharks he is seeking $200,000 in exchange for 10% of his company.
Beginning his pitch by stating that he is an F16 mechanic in the United States Air Force, he tells them that he runs into problems “time and time again” during his work. Elaborating, he says that it’s difficult to keep his tools organized while working on the jet—given the plane’s slanted surface. To solve this issue he explains, he invented the Grypmat.
Explaining more as the camera zooms in, Burden tells them that it is a non-slip tool tray which helps to ensure that “your tools and hardware stay in place” on any surface. As the sharks look on, he states that there are three sizes—small, medium, and large, all of which are displayed beside him. Continuing to speak, the inventor explains that they are all capable of holding tools up to a 70 degrees angle.
Demonstrating the process, he takes one of the small mats—which is filled with screws—and plops it onto the surface of the jet. Next, he does the same with the medium and large-sized mats, both of which contain various hardware. Despite being born in aviation, Burden explains, the Grypmat “can be found useful in any field.” Giving a few examples, he states that it can be used for building rockets, assembling jewelry or tinkering your car.
With the pitch out of the way, the engineer proceeds to hand out a few samples to the sharks, commenting that medium is the most popular size. From there, he also points out that the two larger sizes have a measuring system inside. Almost immediately afterward, Robert compliments the product, which leads Mark to joke that he should make him an offer.
Asked whether or not he has had any sales just seconds later, Burden proudly tells them that they’ve sold 10,000 units, which translates to around $400,000 in sales. Upon further prompting by Lori, the engineer reveals that they had started selling 10 months ago. From there, Robert asks about their net profit, to which he states has been $150,000 and $200,000. Impressed, Mark goes on to give him a small round of applause.
Curious, Daymond soon asks the inventor where the items are sold. In response, he says that most sales are from his website, though they also sell the product at trade shows. Revealing more about their buyers, Burden states that they’ve not only sold to fighter jets, but to NASA as well. Elaborating, he tells them that they’re about to move from the aviation to the automotive industry.
With that, Richard inquires about the price, to which Burden admits that that is an area that he needs guidance on. Going back to what was said previously, Robert asks about the product’s application for cars. Explaining that people tend to scatter their tools across the engine when working on their vehicles, he highlights the importance of building a habit of placing the hardware back into the tray.
Next, Mark asks about his investments. Glancing at the product briefly before returning his attention to the shark, Burden states that he’s put in $40,000 of his own money into the project and has raised $150,000 from grants and various business competitions. As far as the next step goes, the engineer reveals that he plans on creating more products that can integrate with the Grypmat.
Commenting that he’s the “Chief Innovative Officer”, Mark subsequently asks him who will run the company. To that, Burden states that he’s been slowly building up a team. In response, the shark tells him that his current challenge is having to put together a group of people who can help him while he innovates new products, which the engineer agrees to.
Curious about his background, Lori goes on to ask him more about himself. Replying, Burden says that he grew up in Ohio and has always aspired to become in inventor. Told his parents wouldn’t be paying for college, he explains, he decided to join the military—which is where he’s been for the past eight years.
Having listened to his story, Robert asks the inventor what he plans on doing with the $200,000. To that, he reveals that he plans on reinvesting the funds for more inventory, which will allow them to “beef up their volume” so that they can get the price down per piece.
Seconds later, the attention goes to Daymond, who states that he can see the product being used in other settings such as hospitals. With that, he asks the inventor whether or not he’s tried to sell the mat in any other areas. Looking at the shark, Burden tells him that he has had “a lot of interest in gunsmiths, and medical.”
Noting again that the Grypmat has a lot of applications, Daymond soon makes him an offer—$200,000 for 25% a stake. Slightly surprised by the high equity, Burden ponders his offer for a few seconds before giving his attention to the rest of the sharks. As he does, the panel begins to talk among themselves.
Noticing his hesitancy, Raymond soon lowers his offer to $200,000 for 20% equity. Revealing that he wants to work with as many sharks as possible, Burden looks on as Robert asks him what he’s willing to offer for two or three sharks. A little tentative, he tells them that it depends on the sharks.
As the atmosphere grows slightly awkward, Robert asks Burden which sharks he’s like to work with. To that, the inventor looks at Richard, who he says has experience in the aviation industry. In response, Richard looks towards his peers and states that he’d be happy to work with another shark on the deal.
Noting that he himself has experience with cars, Robert agrees to work with Richard on a deal just seconds later. Upon talking among themselves, the shark decides to offer the engineer $400,000 for 40% equity (20% each).
Stuck with a hard decision, Burden contemplates the offer briefly, before Richard agrees to bring down the equity a bit to 15%. Almost immediately afterward, Robert also lowers his offer to $200,000 for 15%. Joking that “he always has to prove his love”, Raymond subsequently also offers him the same thing—$200,000 for 15% stake.
As the engineer goes back to contemplating their offers, Mark reveals that he and Lori are willing to team together to offer him $200,000, as well as their expertise and help in various areas for a 20% share in his company. Taking the chance to make a counteroffer, Burden asks whether or not Richard, Lori, and Mark are willing to team up together for $360,000 for 30% stake. To his pleasant surprise, they soon agree on the deal. Walking towards the three sharks with a big smile, Burden gives them a brief hug before making his way backstage.
The Grypmat in 2018 – The After Shark Tank Update
Many months have passed since Burden pitched The Grypmat on ABC’s Shark Tank. How is the company doing nowadays with Richard, Mark, and Lori’s help?
Unsure whether or not the episode would actually be airing on television, Burden and his team went back to work selling the product shortly after recording. In the end, they also ended up participating in the SEMA LaunchPad competition, where they were the overall winners.
After the episode aired on television last fall, the popularity of the Grypmat exploded. In fact, the company was wiped out of their stock. In response, they ramped up production to increase inventory as fast as possible. Having a built a solid team, their sales have since gone up 10x compared to last year, according to a recent interview with Burden. In act, they are currently working on finalizing distribution deals in other countries such as Australia, England, and Germany. If anything, Lori, Mark, and Richard have played a significant role in their growth over the past months.
In terms of upcoming events, the company will be taking part in the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, one of the country’s busiest airshow and fly-in events later this month. For more details, you can visit their official website here. Here’s an interesting tidbit- Burden had had to sell his house in order to afford to go to the same event back in 2015.
What Customers Think of the Grypmat
Since their appearance on Shark Tank, they have received phenomenal reviews from users. For instance, the product currently has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon, out of nearly 50 reviews. Despite the pricey, many customers are satisfied with the tool holder, which they agree to be effective and convenient.
Will the Air Force engineer be returning to Shark Tank for an update on the Grypmat anytime soon? Unfortunately, your guess is as best as ours at the moment—seeing as how they were just on the show a few months ago, it might be a while before the producers invite them back to television. In the meantime, however, it’s probably fair to say that the company is doing fairly well!