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Zac McKenzie of Grablet

Meet Zac McKenzie, founder of Grablet, a functional tool for tablets in the working environment.
What is Grablet?
The Grablet is a dynamic, multi-functional solution for tablets. Basically, we make your tablet functional in a working environment. You can tie it to your hand or just about anything you can think of. It gives your tablet a fixed, secure way to use it in the working environment.
How did you come up with the idea?
Myself and a friend of mine. Right when the very first iPad came out, his wife had the iPad and talked about how cool it is. But she said you need a cool way to attach it to things out in the working environment. So me and him thought about it for a little bit and just came up with the idea very simply, and a prototyping company in town made a prototype for a couple hundred bucks. We shared it with some people, and they put money in to see what could happen.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
There are a 1,000 people out there with great ideas. It’s not always the idea that’s the limiting factor. 100 or however million things need to line up for you to be successful. Only one of those things can fall incorrectly to not be successful. There are hundreds of daily decisions that need to be made that can be consequential.
To be a new entrepreneur and avoid making mistakes can be frightening. It’s very challenging.
Where did you find your first employee?
I have a couple of partners that I work with, so I would say the first paid employee would be Brittany Jones. She went to college with me. I played football in college with her husband. Her and her husband are very good friends of mine.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
We have partners and distributors overseas. So I wake up in the morning with a list of emails and their partners’. Those could be requests, requests for photos when new products are available, shipping orders. For Signapore this morning, I had an order.
I answer emails in the morning, go to a space we rent in New Albany, Ohio, and then to a warehouse we own. A lot of communication back and forth with different people.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Ohio?
Ohio is a great melting pot of different cultures and different types of people. There just seems to be a very good testing ground for our product. Columbus in particular has a lot of different commerce. It’s been a great state to start a business in.
What resources or organizations in Ohio did you take advantage of and how did they help?
I would say that the main one is the partnership with the New Albany Tech Incubator and TechColumbus. They really offered us a space to come and work at a reasonable price, communicate with other businesses and entrepreneurs like ourselves, and they still constantly help us create new contacts with problems like ours.
What inspires you?
I would say my family. My wife allows me to do this. Being an entrepreneur is hard. You don’t make very much money. Even now we’re growing and you want to keep as much money in the company as possible. My wife has been very supportive and has inspired me to do well in whatever I have my focus on. Right now my focus is on this business, and I want to be able to provide for her and my family. I wouldn’t be able to do it without my wife.
What founders do you admire and why?
To be quite honest, I don’t know of too many other founders other than my father, Mike McKenzie, and he went to the same college I did and played college football. Out of college, he worked his butt off and saw an opportunity with an office supply company and their shipping route. He started a LLC as a shipping company. So my father started his own business through hard work and determination. He became very successful, and I would say he’s my entrepreneurial role model.
What’s next for you?
We are continuing to develop innovative products for our new lines based on functionality.
Interview by Joe Baur

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