I am very excited to invest in Grypmat - a flexible non-slip rubber tool mat that keeps tools in place. The mat is anti-static, chemically resistant, and does not damage the surface it sits on, which makes it perfect for planes (and spaceships!). It was really easy to believe in the CEO, Tom Burden, who is a veteran and came on the show donning a flightsuit.
Tom invented the Grypmat during his days as an Air Force mechanic working on F-16 fighter jets because he was tired of misplacing and dropping tools. He created a brilliant solution out of personal frustration, which resonated with me as so many of our Virgin companies have been shaped by the desire to make people’s lives better.
Grypmat is just the kind of thing I think would be useful to ground crews at Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Galactic and I think there will be a strong demand for the product. Lori, Mark and I were all impressed with Tom and his product, so with each of our expertise, we went into the investment together. With three sharks snapping at Tom’s heels I think he has a great shot at success.
Later in the day Mark beat me to the punch by investing in DNA Simple, which matches research studies with people who are suitable. It’s a great example of where a business can help people and generate money at the same time.
I was also very proud to update everyone on the progress of Ring, which I invested in a couple of years after it appeared on Shark Tank. In 2013, Jamie Siminoff went on the show and pitched Door Bot (now renamed to Ring). He was rejected by all but one shark, who offered less than what Jamie believed it was worth so he declined and walked away with nothing. Mark Cuban specifically said it wouldn’t be successful (I do love it when entrepreneurs prove people wrong – it has happened to me plenty of times too!).
I was then introduced to Ring in 2015 and soon after met Jaime, who was very passionate about his business. I was so impressed with both Jamie and his idea that I took a chance and invested in it straight away. Ring is now doing incredible well. The business is growing quickly, and over 1 million homes now have Ring’s protective gear. Jamie’s tale is a great example of why you should try and see opportunities when you are faced with as challenges and not take no for an answer if you truly believe in your idea.
It always fascinates me how we all can have such a different perspective on an idea and whether it will work.
Opportunities like Shark Tank are so important to budding entrepreneurs who really need investment to scale and grow their businesses and exposure to get their name heard. I’m looking forward to watching all three of my investments on the show - Sierra Madre Research, LockerBoard, and Grypmat - and all their wonderful founders rise to success.