Core77 Design Awards
- Other Years
When inventor Tom Burden was a F16 mechanic in the Air National Guard he was often frustrated by tools sliding off the aircraft. The time wasted searching for lost hardware and climbing up and down the ladder to access different tools lead Burden to look for solutions in the market. What Burden wanted was a simple way to secure his tools while protecting the multi-million-dollar aircraft that he was assigned to service. Unable to find an adequate product he decided to make his own solution. With the skills gained as a mechanical engineering student, Burden started prototyping a non-slip rubberized tool tray. After three years of prototyping and perfecting, he created what is now called the Grypmat. Gypmat proved to be as desirable to Sharks as it is to customers. In season nine of ABC's Shark Tank, Burden received offers from all five Sharks and was ultimately able to negotiate a deal with Richard Branson, Mark Cuban, and Lori Greiner. Today, Grypmat is poised for record growth with help from the best and brightest in business and retail.
Tom Burden is from the small town of Celina Ohio and is a former F16 mechanic in the Air National Guard. He was frustrated by his tools sliding off the aircraft and the time he was wasting searching for lost hardware. Tom began looking for a solution and wanted a simple way to secure his tools and protect the multi-million-dollar aircraft that he was assigned to service.
One day, while he was driving with his mother, Tom noticed a small pad on her dashboard that kept her cell phone secure while driving. This was his aha-moment, it would inspire him to design a non-slip rubberized tool mat. With the skills gained as a mechanical engineering student, Burden started prototyping a non-slip rubberized tool tray in his basement. His first concepts were to make these tool mats especially for the F16 aircraft he was working on. After some research Tom realized that other mechanics had the same problem and this was a challenge for anyone working with hand tools. Keeping tools close at hand would help increase efficiency in servicing everything and keep hardware organized. So he went back to work re-designing a new mat that could be used by other mechanics. His design challenges would be to make a high-heat resistant, flexible, non-magnetic, non-slip, chemical resistant, anti-static, rubberized tool mat. This had to be a special silicon-polymer blend that would be able to withstand all of the design parameters. Tom also thought about other working environments and wanted it to be able to withstand an autoclave for possible use in the medical field. After three long years, he created what is now called the original Grypmat.
Tom launched the patent-pending Grypmat at the worlds largest air show at the EAA in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The Grypmat was a huge success and he sold out of all his inventory. Tom knew at this point that he was on to something that would change the way people work. His biggest challenge, producing more inventory and the funds to pay for his product. He would sell what he had and re-invest everything into more product. His next goal was to develop new designs that would compliment his original by offering three different sizes. Tom launched a very successful Kickstarter campaign and was funded in less than ten hours. His goal was to pre-sell $10,000 to cover the cost of the new designs but ended up selling over $120,000.00 in Grypmats. As his Kickstarter campaign was launched his future would change forever as producers from ABC's Shark Tank show took notice of his video and innovative product. They reached out to Tom and asked if he would be interested in applying for the show. Tom was now in the first round of the selection process of more 100,000 applicants. After multiple rounds, he learned that he had made a final cut to have a chance to film an episode. This didn't guarantee of even making it to air but he had learned that there would be a guest shark, Sir Richard Branson. Branson owns Virgin Airlines and other aerospace companies so Tom was beside himself with anticipation of pitching to one of his Idles. What happened next was life changing for the young inventor.
Grypmat proved to be as desirable to Sharks as it is to customers. In season nine of ABC's Shark Tank, Burden received offers from all five Sharks and was ultimately able to negotiate a deal with Sir Richard Branson, Mark Cuban, and Lori Greiner. Today, Grypmat is poised for record growth with help from the best and brightest in business and retail.