A love of the sport of disc golf is what inspired Justin Atwater-Taylor to start Grip EQ.
Atwater-Taylor has played disc golf across the globe and saw a hole in the market for the best way to transport the multiple discs that serious lovers of the sport carry with them. In 2010 he began manufacturing bags under the company name Grip EQ. Today, Grip bags are sold across the globe. A network of international manufacturing and distribution has helped make Grip the number one seller and designer of disc golf bags on the planet.
Thanks to an international increase in the awareness and participation in disc golf, Grip EQ has seen amazing growth since its 2010 inception. Over the last year Grip has been working with the Kansas Small Business Development Center (KSBDC) at the University of Kansas to reduce debt and increase potential capital opportunities to allow for new lines of bags to be developed. Brian Dennis, KSBDC consultant leveraged several tools uniquely available to the KBSDC to assist with Grip EQ’s development and growth.
Using market research as well as financial benchmarking and profit analysis, Dennis and Atwater-Taylor worked together to build a plan that would incorporate both traditional lenders and new equity partners. Atwater-Taylor credits the plan with laying the groundwork for a smooth transition as he brought in a new partnership team with backgrounds in manufacturing and distribution. The new ownership team will help take Grip EQ to the next level.
Grip’s five administrative and design employees are all located in Lawrence, Kansas. Manufacturing takes place oversees as well as international distribution. The company is excited about 2014 as it moves to increase sales and product offerings.
When reflecting on how the KSBDC at KU has helped to change his business, Atwater-Taylor shared, “I certainly have a better handle on the financials. That was one of my obstacles in managing something that quickly became a multi-national company. Without much experience doing anything like that getting that down on paper really helped me organize my thoughts on where we were going.”
Ask the Entrepreneur: A short Q&A with Justin Atwater-Taylor
What inspired you to buy/start/expand your business?
Insanity? Lunacy? Idiocy? I always wanted to do my own thing, ever since I was a little kid I dreamed of owning my own business. My grandpa was an entrepreneur as well. The opportunity presented itself to be a part of a sport that I was very involved in, I couldn’t pass it up.
What do you believe is the secret to your small business success?
Working with talented and smart people who are good at the things that I’m not good at.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself before starting your small business?
I honestly wish I had been able to go to work for a big company who already had their stuff together, to be a sponge for a few years to learn the industry. And find collaborators early!
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a business today?
Make sure you work with good people.
What advice would you give to someone currently in business today?
You’ll be weighed down with problems, don’t let them stop you. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and move forward.
Learn more grip-eq.com | 909-474-7835
Assisted by Brian Dennis, KSBDC Consultant | KSBDC at KU | Lawrence. KU KSBDC | 785.843.8844 | business.ku.edu/ku-small-business-development-center | firstname.lastname@example.org
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