Grypmat

Company: Grypmat

Founder: Tom Burden

Season: Appeared on season 9 in the week 7 episode

Grypmat is a rubber mat that keeps tools organized and within reach. The flexible and versatile tool mat allows for an improved workflow for both trade professionals and DIYers, according to the Kickstarter campaign.

The “high-performance, flexible, non-magnetic, non-slip, chemical resistant, anti-static, rubber tool mat” is designed to increase efficiency and safety, according to their website. The mat is available in three sizes and ranges in price from $29.99 for small to $69.99 for large. The trio pack regularly costs $129.99.

When Burden originally appeared on “Shark Tank,” he came in asking for $200,000 for 10 percent equity. Guest shark Richard Branson was immediately intrigued by the product and said he saw its airline application. Daymond John liked its versatility and Branson appreciated that it solved an everyday problem. All five sharks made an offer and Burden questioned whether Branson, Lori Greiner and Mark Cuban would go in on a deal together at $360,000 for 30 percent equity. Ultimately, the trio of sharks accepted Burden’s offer.

Burden spoke with Business 2 Community about Grypmat’s experience on the show and what their next steps are. Take a look at the Q&A below:

Q&A with Grypmat’s Inventor & Owner Tom Burden

What was your strategy for navigating “Shark Tank”?

Our goal was to get as many sharks to take a bite out of Grypmat as possible. I knew we would have to sacrifice some equity but each shark had their strengths for growing Grypmat. Richard Branson is a hero of mine and we share the same birthday. He just happens to own Virgin Airlines, which is a perfect fit for our product. We knew that Branson would immediately see the value in the Grypmat. Mark Cuban is so business savvy and Lori Greiner has such a successful history with retail that those three sharks would be our dream team. To land all three sharks was a dream come true.

How has Grypmat changed since the episode was first recorded? Since it aired?

After I first recorded the show, I had no idea if we would even air, so we just got back to work selling to our current customers and tradeshows. Our plan was to introduce the Grypmat into the automotive segment and we did that at the world’s largest auto show SEMA. We entered the SEMA Launch Pad competition for new innovative products and we ended up the overall winner. This put us on the map in the automotive category and the next week, the “Shark Tank” show aired.

Since this first airing, we are producing Grypmats as fast as possible. Ramping up production and building a team has been our priority. After the show aired, we were wiped out of stock and it was critical that we get more product. We have 10x the business as this time last year and we are finalizing distribution deals in Germany, England and Australia. Branson, Cuban and Greiner have been a vital part of our growth and we are very lucky to have their support.

Is there anything you would have changed about your time spent in the tank, including your pitch and valuation?

There were some small things I would like to change but we had such a successful experience that I really can’t think of anything that stands out.

Who’s your favorite shark?

Asking that is like asking a parent who their favorite child is. They are all such a resource and I look forward to them mentoring me as we grow Grypmat.

Do you think “Shark Tank” was the right move for your business?

There is no question that “Shark Tank” was the right move for Grypmat. This past year has been like being strapped to a rocket. Everything was accelerated and so many opportunities have been presented that it’s been life-changing.

What are Grypmat’s next steps?

Grypmat’s next steps are to grow into new markets. We just came from the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas and the reaction from the people was amazing. Not only did we pick up distributors in the DIY Home Improvement category but we’re expanding into other countries. The icing on the cake was picking up a New Product World design award for the Grypmat.

Where do you see this industry in 5-10 years?

We see the use of Grypmats expanding into other categories like medical and industrial environments. Also, creating accessories for the Grypmat will just enhance the product and create a platform that we can build on. Using a Grypmat will be part of a new way of thinking when working with tools in any environment.

What would you say to people who want to start their own business?

Something I tell myself is, “No opportunity will be lost due to the lack of my effort.” You have to have the tenacity and dedication to make it work. If you think it will be an overnight success, you set yourself up for failure.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who want to make it on “Shark Tank”?

I think the best advice I can give is to get out and sell your product. Going into the Tank without any sales is almost always a recipe for failure. Be open to advice and guidance from the sharks. Also, have a long-term plan for your product. What is your 2.0 product or innovation or your plan for continued growth?

Anything else you’d like to add?

“Shark Tank” has validated for me that I am a successful inventor but building the right team will help take Grypmat to the next level. If you surround yourself with like-minded people, you’re heading in the right direction.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length


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