DAVID GRAMLIN IS REALLY HEATING THINGS UP
David Gramlin’s fingers were cold. Really cold. As an aircraft mechanic in the Air Force assigned to work outside in the frigid winters of North Dakota — some days the temperature would drop to minus 60 — he couldn’t opt out of his working conditions. That’s when he came up with an idea that has the potential to transform the extreme weather glove market. Now enrolled at Purdue Polytechnic New Albany, Gramlin is really heating things up.
“My fingers were close to freezing and my gloves were so thick I could barely move my hands. It was hard to handle small objects so I had to take my gloves off to perform a task,” recalls David, a native of Minot, North Dakota. “I saw a need for gloves that provide warmth and allow full dexterity of fingers.”
Back in Indiana, he began working on his heated gloves in earnest. He also enrolled at Purdue Polytechnic, majoring in electrical engineering technology. It was not the traditional academic experience he expected. His classes were small, and he found tremendous support from his professors, many of whom had worked in industry. “In theory, heating gloves with batteries is a simple concept, but I didn’t have the knowledge or connections to find suppliers or a patent attorney. My instructors helped me with both, but left it to me to do the legwork. It’s taught me to do things on my own.”
Although Purdue and Purdue Polytechnic Statewide have funding sources for student entrepreneurs, Gramlin opted to fund all of the cost of materials and research required of his product. This includes the cost of filing for a patent. In December 2014, David successfully filed a provisional application for a patent to start the process of protecting his idea, a major milestone in the life of an entrepreneur.
The ability to use "patent pending" in relation to his invention has made his dream more real. Response from potential customers is also a motivator. “I’ve talked to people who work in harsh, cold environments and they think it’s a great idea. The market for my gloves is construction workers, military, mechanics, just about anyone who works in the cold. Another market is anyone who enjoys being out in the cold — hunters, skiers, runners,” he said.
Being a full-time student at Purdue Polytechnic has not hindered Gramlin’s entrepreneurial activities. He’s close to finalizing his heated gloves prototype. His classes and close relationships with instructors have been instrumental in understanding the commercialization and business startup processes. He believes he has a solid foundation for the future, one that includes manufacturing and selling his product.
“If starting a business is your goal, then Purdue Polytechnic’s entrepreneurship classes are for you. Purdue will definitely set you up for success," he said.