University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student entrepreneurs were named the winners of the UW-Extension’s inaugural Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament, co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). The team represented Wisconsin at the International Business Model Competition May 1-3 in Utah, where they competed against top student entrepreneurs from around the world.


The team is made up of two current Air National Guard members, Tom Burden and Janie Asberry, and U.S. Air Force veteran Shawn Petros. Their company, Grypshon, offers safe, non-corrosive and convenient mats that provide a surface on which aerospace mechanics can stand or place tools. They plan on selling their products to the military, with the goal of maximizing efficiency, productivity and safety of military members in a cost-effective manner.

Grypshon was among 10 teams of University of Wisconsin student entrepreneurs who competed in the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament in April. Other top finishers include student teams from UW-Eau Claire (runner-up) and UW-Oshkosh (third place). All three top finishers earned an interview with gener8tor, one of the Midwest’s premier startup accelerators.

Over the weekend, Grypshon was one of 40 teams that competed in the international finals at Brigham Young University in Utah for $100,000 in awards. As winners of the Wisconsin Big Idea tournament, Grypshon also qualified for the first round of the Ideadvance seed fund administered by UW-Extension and funded by UW System and WEDC. Depending on the business milestones they reach, they can earn up to $25,000 to advance their idea.