Sheridan company makes perfect tailgating tool - "GrillGate"
October 22, 2020
SHERIDAN - It's as Wyoming as hunting, fishing and time at the lake. Tailgating - while often reserved for pre-football game festivities in some states - appears within various Wyoming adventures.
Whether that adventure means time at Lake DeSmet, sledding at The Bowl or setting up hunting camp, Tyler O'Daniel hopes to make the entire process just a bit easier - and portable.
O'Daniel's business concept - GrillGate - is a finalist in the IMPACT 307 Sheridan Start-Up Challenge.
GrillGate is an aftermarket tailgate with a collapsible grill integrated within it. The idea, O'Daniel said, is that when it's not in use, GrillGate takes the shape of a regular tailgate, but takes less than 5 minutes to convert and have heat. It also includes grease draining and cleanup systems along with thermal fabrics to maintain a centralized point of heat.
The process for developing GrillGate started about five years ago when O'Daniel was in college. He had downloaded a free computer modeling program at 2 a.m. and had a "lightbulb" moment.
"Fast forward a few years and a few more 2 a.m. ideas, and the GrillGate sprung to life," O'Daniel said. "I woke up the next day and began designing what was in my head. From that point, working on it when I could, it took about two years to have a design that I thought was ready to move forward with.
"At this time, I had just moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, and started a new career with Manufacturing Works," he continued. "As you can imagine, it was like drinking from a firehose with all the new developments."
The business is in a pre-revenue stage and is currently working its way through research and development engineering. The first prototype for the product was completed in early October, and O'Daniel said he's currently focused on refining the product design.
Beyond help from organizations like the Wyoming Small Business Development Center, Manufacturing Works and IMPACT 307, O'Daniel noted local businesses have also played a role in developing his business.
"...If it were not for a local engineering firm, metal fab shop, welding and machine shop, and an expert in thermal coverings, GrillGate would be nowhere near as far as it is now," he said.
O'Daniel said funding from the IMPACT 307 Sheridan Start-Up Challenge will help with the next rounds of research and development and in the creation of a business strategy and marketing plan moving forward.
While his customer base could include everyone from outdoor enthusiasts to grill enthusiasts and tailgating fans - the business isn't without challenges.
O'Daniel said having the capital to maintain inventory and research and development efforts will need to be worked out, but he's confident that will happen.
While the creation of GrillGate is currently a part-time venture, O'Daniel said he's lucky to work in an organization focused on economic development for manufacturers.