2017 SEMA Launch Pad Winner

Tom Burden, Grypshon Industries LLC

Tom Burden was named the 2017 SEMA Launch Pad winner by a panel of industry judges at the live event on Monday, October 30, during the SEMA Show.

Tom Burden is from the small town of Celina, Ohio and is an 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. Burden 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. With the skills gained as a mechanical engineering student, Burden started prototyping a non-slip rubberized tool tray in his basement; after three years, he created what is now called the Grypmat.

Grypmat, the world’s most versatile tool mat. The Grypmat Trio is made from our patent- pending, flexible, non-magnetic, non-slip, rubberized material. They stick to curved surfaces such as car bodies and composite race cars. Using a Grypmat reduces surface damage, shortens maintenance times, and is a mechanics most valuable tool.

Learn More About Grypmat

https://www.grypmat.com/ |

Program Details

Entering its fifth year, the SEMA Launch Pad is the premiere young entrepreneur automotive competition offering innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs under the age of 40 a platform at the world’s largest B2B gathering, the SEMA Show, to pitch their business to a panel of iconic industry judges at a live event.

Designed to take your business and product to the next level, the program offers various prize packages with opportunities to receive:

  • A $10,000 award to be used for the benefit of the winner's business
  • Free SEMA Show Booth
  • Free SEMA Membership for one year
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Facetime with key industry influencers
  • Access to business tools and resources

Program Timeline

  • Applications due: May 30, 2017
  • Semi-finalists (15) will be selected: June 1, 2017
  • Semi-finalists film 3-minute pitch video at SEMA Exhibitor Summit in Las Vegas: June 19-21, 2017
  • Voting Period: July 18-September 4, 2017
  • Finalists (10) will be notified: September 5, 2017
  • SEMA Launch Pad Live Event: October 30, 2017 at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas

2017 Finalists

Meet this year’s finalists. Each contestant has a new innovative automotive aftermarket product that they are looking to launch or gain more traction in the marketplace. These 10 young entrepreneurs will take the stage at the live event on October 30, at the 2017 SEMA Show to pitch their products to a panel of industry judges. Be sure to attend the event to see their pitches live, learn more about their products and watch as the 2017 SEMA Launch Pad winner is named.

You can also stop by the Launch Pad Corral located in the Performance Pavilion where each finalist will have a kiosk style booth. The contestants will be stationed here throughout the SEMA Show week during Show hours. This is a great opportunity to ask them questions about their products, businesses or their experience as a SEMA Launch Pad competitor.

Mike Alexander

President/Owner | FLO Airride Mfg

Product: FLO Modular Billet Tank (FLO-MBT)

Mike Alexander grew up immersed in the custom automotive culture of Southern California. He began his automotive career installing car stereos. Working his way up to Roadshop GM, this passion expanded toward automotive journalism. Mike joined McMullen-Argus where he managed several newsstand publications. Mike later launched Slam'd Magazine, which gave way to an obsession for improving both form and function in today's Airride markets -thus, FLO Airride was born and through his background in media and marketing, has since built a word class team with FLO Air Supply Co., looking to expand multiple product lines in the coming years.

Carl Borkholder

Owner | Gen-Y Industries

Product: Gen-Y Adjustable Drop Hitch

In 2001, Carl Borkholder was employed at a trailer manufacturer in Indiana and in 2005, he purchased a tree removal service. It was while running this company that Carl discovered that an innovation in the hitch industry was sorely needed and in 2010, the GEN-Y hitch was born. Carl's passion for innovation and customer service has led him, in just 5 years, to receive patents on a dozen different GEN-Y hitch solutions. Foremost of these, is the groundbreaking GEN-Y torsion system which has both a design and utility patent and is seen in several GEN-Y products.

Tom Burden

CEO/Founder | Grypshon Industries LLC

Product: Grypmat

Tom Burden is from the small town of Celina, Ohio and is an 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. Burden 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. With the skills gained as a mechanical engineering student, Burden started prototyping a non-slip rubberized tool tray in his basement; after three years, he created what is now called the Grypmat.

Matt Corish

Co-founder | V12LS.com

Product: V12 LS Engine

Matt Corish is an entrepreneur from Baltimore who has held executive roles in the manufacturing sector along with founding automotive and technology startups. Matt founded V12LS.com with his brother Shane, an accomplished Engineer from Melbourne Australia in 2015. This is their second business venture together.

Gregor Hanuschak

Founder | Smack Innovations

Product: SafeConnect

Gregor Hanuschak has an MBA from MIT Sloan, & degrees in engineering from both Stanford & Harvard Universities. He was a founder or original employee for 3 other startups before this one (GetAround, Planetary Resources, & DemandVille) and has a good background in business development (raised over $2M for NASA) and management (managed a $17M program & 160 people at NASA Headquarters). On the technical side, Gregor is a former Lockheed Martin engineer (flight software for satellites / satellite simulators) and he built the initial hardware & software for SafeConnect & the Deluxe model-allows drumming on your steering wheel.

Ben Horst

President | Eddy Motorworks

Product: Electric Vehicle Conversion

Ben Horst graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry before heading straight into a Master's Degree. He led his own research, developing software tools to simplify electric vehicle design for smaller manufacturers, while building his own electric and hybrid vehicles on the side. After bringing those prototype vehicles to car shows all over Georgia, Ben learned that the demand for custom, unique electric cars was much larger than the market satisfied, and with that in mind, Ben founded Eddy Motorworks.

Brian Pierce

Design Engineer | Delicious Tuning

Product: Flex Fuel Conversion Kit

Brian Pierce is the CTO & Engineer behind Delicious Tuning products. Brian sharpened his engineering skills in the aerospace industry while living in the Midwest, designing, building, breaking and fixing everything from small electronics to spacecraft. Parts he’s built and tested currently circle various planets and fly through the skies above. Chances are you’ve traveled in or used something he’s had a hand in building. Prior to working in aerospace, Brian enlisted in the Marines, where he specialized in avionics repair. During his time off in the military, Brian got involved in working on cars and delved into car culture.

Irina Slavina

COO | HUDWAY

Product: HUDWAY Drive

Irina Slavina is one of the co-founders of Hudway. She joined the company in 2014, when two original founders, Ivan Klabukov and Alex Ostanin transferred operations from Russia to California and established company’s HQ in Los Angeles. As a licensed attorney, Irina handles legal and compliance work for the company. Irina also serves as a company COO. Prior to joining Hudway, Irina worked in top law firms in Los Angeles and Chicago.

Brock Templeman

President | Savior Products, Inc.

Product: Savior Battery Cases

In 2011, Brock graduated with Honors from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Sciences in Finance and a Bachelor of Sciences in Marketing. Currently, Ben is President of Savior Products, Inc. which he co-founded with his dad, Jon Templeman. They originally created the Savior product line for the harsh marine and boating environment but have since crossed over into the automotive and powersports industries. Brock’s responsibilities include managing product lines, spearheading new product development, and overseeing sales and marketing. During his tenure, he’s been awarded three U.S. Patents with another five more patent-pending applications being processed.

Edward Uehling

Co-founder | King Tailgates LLC

Product: King Tailgate

Ed Uehling is the co-founder of King Tailgates LLC, an aftermarket automotive parts company specializing in tailgates and tailgating accessories. Building and branding growing businesses are a passion for Ed. Having spent over a decade in management, marketing, and sales, Ed understands what drives success: research & insight; a relentless work-ethic; a passion for learning; and the patience which fosters respect and collaboration. In 2005, Ed was recognized in the Key Bank Keynote Speaker awards in Salt Lake City, UT. Ed holds a BA in Communications from Westminster College.

Participant Testimonials

Kevin Patrick, Exomotive
2016 SEMA Launch Pad Finalist

Amanda Holbert, PlasmaGlide
2016 SEMA Launch Pad finalist

Prize Packages

LAUNCH PAD GRAND PRIZE

  • All the semi-finalist prizes, finalist prizes and:
  • A $10,000 award to be used for the benefit of the winner's business
  • SEMA Show: Turn-key Exhibit Space with Premium Placement in the 2018 SEMA Show*
  • SEMA News: One full-page, four-color ad
  • SEMA Garage: Up to three hours of free custom scanning services
  • SEMA Data Co-op: 50% off Supplier monthly membership fees for your first year (up to a $3,600 value)
  • SEMA Manufacturers' Rep Network: Distribution/sales support consultation meeting
  • Xceleration Media Group®: 6 months of digital advertising on their official website with banner ads (300x250, 728x90, and 300x100) including product release and social media coverage. In print a 1/2 page - 4 color ad in the next two issues of the title that most closely fits with the winner’s product/service. *Non-transferable and must be used within one year of winning
  • Family Events: Family Events Group Event Marketing/Advertising package worth $5,000

FINALISTS (10 Participants)

  • All the Semi-finalist prizes and:
  • Complimentary 2017 SEMA Show "Kiosk" Booth in the Performance Pavilion.* 2 Exhibitor Passes to the SEMA Show. 2 Tickets to the SEMA Banquet.
  • 1 Hour Mentoring Session w/ an "Industry Icon"
  • Increased awareness of your business via participating in the live SEMA Show event.
  • Xceleration Media Group®: 6 months of digital advertising on their official website with banner adds (300x250, 728x90, and 300x100 pixels) including product release and social media coverage (which can include Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram). In print a 1/2 page - 4 color ad in the next two issues of the title that most closely fits with the winner’s product/service. *Non-transferable and must be used within one year of winning.

SEMI-FINALISTS (15 Participants)

  • 1 year complimentary SEMA Membership.
  • Complimentary registration to the 2017 Exhibitor Summit, 2 nights of hotel and meals at the event (June 21 & June 22)
  • $500 award to be used towards the cost of flight to the 2017 Exhibitor Summit.
  • Increased awareness of your business via competing in the official SEMA Facebook voting competition.
  • Inclusion in multiple electronic SEMA eNews features.

All taxes on prizes are the sole responsibility of the prize-winning company. Tax liability is based on the value of the prizes. All prize winners must complete a W-9 in order to receive a prize.

*No changes are permitted to the booth layout. Company does not accrue SEMA Show seniority points by reason of exhibiting at a 2017 SEMA Show “Kiosk” Booth in New Products Showcase Area or the “Turn-key” Exhibit Space with Premium Placement in the 2018

*Please review the full Terms & Conditions for prize package.

Basic Requirements

  • Applicants do not need to be a SEMA and/or a YEN member but must be under the age of 40 (at the time of the closing of the 2017 SEMA Show on November 3, 2017.)
  • The business owner, company's leading executive (ie. president, CEO, CFO, COO), or vice president (with ownership stake) is the participant on behalf of the company.
  • Functioning Product/Service: The competing business must offer a product or service that is a functioning prototype, functioning concept, or currently for sale.
  • Semi-finalists Travel: Travel to the Exhibitor Summit (Las Vegas, NV). SEMA provides event registration, hotel, meals onsite and a $500 Grant to be used towards flight expenses.
  • Finalists Travel: Travel to the SEMA Show (Las Vegas, NV) at their own expense to exhibit and compete in the live event. The participant in the original application must make the business pitch before the SEMA Launch Pad judges. (No substitutes.)
  • Taxes: All taxes on prizes are the sole responsibility of the prize winning company. Tax liability is based on the value of the prizes.
  • Intellectual Property: A patent or trademark registration is not required but by entering the competition, the contest participant certifies that he/she has ownership rights to any intellectual property rights (i.e. trademark, copyright, patent, proprietary information) for the company and product/service being marketed, or authorization from the owner of such rights.
  • Residency: Open only to legal residents of the United States and the District of Columbia who are at least 18 years of age and who have a valid email address.

**Please review the full Terms & Conditions and Selection Criteria.

Meet the Host!

Clarence Barnes

TV & Radio Peronality

TV & Radio host, actor and a former news anchor, who’s obsession with cars has turned a lifelong hobby into a full blown career. Known to his friends as the guy who can’t drive across town without looking into every open garage door along the way. Clarence grew up around his father’s moving company and used car lot fixing, flipping and eventually racing cars he put together from parts scavenged from the want-ads.

Enthusiasts and fans know Clarence as the Motorsports host for Hot Rod Magazine’s Power Tour & Engine Masters Challenge, Roadkill Drags, Motor Trend Truck of the Year, Car Craft Nationals, Mopar Nats, The Great Race, SEMA Ignited, Lincoln Tech Tips, Castrol Edge, Hyundai, Mercedes, Harley Davidson and most recently the face of the Luken Network’s newest property, RevnTV.

LAUNCH PAD JUDGES

Ronald L. Coleman

COMP Performance

Jessi Combs

Television Personality

Myles Kovaks

DUB Publishing Inc.

Stacey David

Rattletrap Productions

Vaughn Gittin Jr.

World Champion Drifter

Judging Criteria

Each Launch Pad finalist will compete in the Live Event at the 2017 SEMA Show where they will make a 5-minute pitch to a panel of judges on their business/product. The contestants will be scored, based on their performance, in the following categories: People, Product and Process to determine the winner.

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LAUNCH PAD WINNERS