Howdy! First things first, my name is Jason. I'm going to tell this story as quickly as possible, so hang in there :) It all started with soul... Seoul, South Korea that is. While riding a subway, and then a bus, and then another bus, I started seeing signs. People were wearing surgical masks on their faces, some people had latex gloves on. I even remember little placards with animated cartoons in Korean; I couldn't read them, but I knew what they were trying to say. "Beware of Germs".
As I shared the warm air of a small subway car with at least 100 other people standing shoulder to shoulder, I looked up at my hand grasping the slick plastic handle. I wondered how many people had touched that handle since it had last been washed. Then I wished I had a tissue or some sort of barrier to use. And that's when I thought of the Gryp. A reusable tissue, made of something durable that I could bring with me every day and wash easily. The gears started turning.
Later that year I moved to Las Vegas with Brooke. The city was about as dirty as Seoul, and I told her about the idea I had in Korea. She liked it and we immediately went out and bought an X-acto knife and some colorful plastic cutting boards. We cut our original design out of thin green plastic and called it the Pynch, for "when you're in a pinch". It was much bigger and included a thumb holder. We thought we were finished, but we were actually still years away from our current design.
We thought the Pynch was perfect, but after a bunch of tests we found out that plastics were too slippery for our intended use. Our bulky design also didn't fit into a pocket very well. We tried to install magnets on it so it could attach to a back pocket, but it wasn't working. It was cumbersome and awkward when it wasn't being used.
Hallelujah! One day, Brooke found an oven mitt for sale and bought it. "It's sticky, and I'm pretty sure it's anti-bacterial" she said. Or something similar. After some research, our suspicions were confirmed. For months we bought every silicone thing we could find. Then we started slicing up our brand new oven gloves and placemats, and turned them into prototypes.
After we made a (much grippier) silicone version of our Pynch prototype, we realized that we didn't need the thumb part anymore. We could operate handles, levers, locks and even circular door knobs with just two fingers wrapped in silicone. So we refined our design and made the first Gryp. We were even kind of bummed because our clever "Pynch" name no longer worked without the thumb part. When we worked a mini Pynch concept into the new Gryp design, we named it after our original design.
For our initial Gryp prototypes, we hand sewed each one and punched a grommet through for a keyring to attach. They were really hard to sew, but we managed to make a handful of decent ones and gave them to the neighbors in our apartment complex. They loved them, but also broke them one by one. The sewing would start to unravel and the grommets all fell out. They looked super ugly when people showed us their used ones. So we got back to the drawing board.
After a lot of testing and talking to others, we landed on our single-tab closure design. It allowed us to create an ambidextrous one-size-fits-all design that could be configured in multiple different ways. Just fold the tab and insert it into the oval.
The new tab design also allowed us to seamlessly integrate our Pynch idea. The Gryp can be assembled in two different ways, and then two more in reverse. See our video here for more info
a. Three-finger protection with the Pynch feature
b. Two-finger protection with a sleeker profile
When we wanted to start mass producing, we needed to create a technical drawing. So we met with a bunch of industrial designers and got estimates for 3D files to be created. In the end, we met an independent contractor from India that was living in San Diego. He completed all of the required files for about 1/10 of the average estimate we received from large firms. Hooray for Craigslist!
Once we had our technical drawing and 3D files, we reached out to a bunch of different silicone manufacturers. After narrowing them down to just a few, we crossed our fingers and had our first batch of Gryps produced. We packaged them ourselves and sent our babies out into the world. Lately we've been fulfilling orders, prototyping new customer requests, and working on distributing the Gryp to the farthest corners of the world. Stay tuned and be sure to ask your local store to stock the Gryp!
Thanks for reading, we'll be sure to keep you updated on our progress :)
Feel free to email us at email@example.com
Jason + Brooke