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. There were literal signs 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. Sin City is one of the dirtiest places in the world, 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 plastic was too slippery. Also, our bulky design didn't fit in a pocket very well. We tried to integrate magnets so it could clip onto a back pocket, but it wasn't working. It was cumbersome and awkward when it wasn't being used.
Hallelujah! Then one day Brooke found a silicone 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 holder 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 felt a little disappointed because our clever "Pynch" name no longer worked without the thumb sleeve. 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 the keyring hole. They were really hard to sew, and after a bunch of pricked fingers we started to get the hang of it. We started out by giving them to the neighbors in our apartment complex. Then we passed them out to friends, family and coworkers. They loved them, but also broke them one by one. The sewing would start to unravel and the grommets all fell out. They looked awful after just a few months of use. So, we got back to the drawing board.
After a lot of testing and talking to others, we developed our single-tab closure design. It allowed us to create an ambidextrous one-size-fits-all design that could be configured for multiple uses. 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. It can also be used open. 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 CAD file. 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.
After 3 long years of hard work, we were finally able to start selling our invention online. We've sold Gryps to over 46 countries and all 50 United States, working endlessly to distribute our device to the farthest corners of the world.
Thanks for reading, we'll be sure to keep you updated on our progress.
Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jason + Brooke