N-GAGE GRIPS will have found success as a startup when Matt Leadbetter’s oldest son thinks he’s cool.
“I remember thinking, ‘I have this thing in my head, I just need to make it,’ and I was kinda thinking at the time, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if when my little boy gets older, he’s impressed with the fact that I’ve made something?’” recalled Leadbetter, founder of N-GAGE GRIPS and vice president of commercial banking at Bank Midwest.
Such a thought came three years ago, he told Startland News just days after the first orders of N-GAGE GRIPS — a set of attachments which slip over barbells and help align and stabilize joints while lifting — reached customers.
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“I’ve lifted since I was in junior high, over half my life, and I got to a point as I have gotten older where you have more pains kind of creeping on you,” he said of literal pain points that drove him to create N-GAGE GRIPS.
While a desire to help others with similar ailments isn’t waning, Leadbetter doesn’t plan to give up his day job. Instead, the founder is content building N-GAGE GRIPS as a hobby business.
“I spend, sometimes, 50-plus hours a week in my job. And [I’m focused on] getting where I want to be [with N-GAGE GRIPS] and at some level I’ve accepted that I’m doing what I can,” he said, noting he’s built a solid foundation for the company that should be easily sustained so long as he prioritizes putting out a quality product.
“I started realizing that you don’t have to [quit your job] to scratch that [entrepreneurship] itch,” Leadbetter said.
Formally launched in November and ahead of Black Friday, Leadbetter has turned his focus to deploying a solid marketing strategy for N-GAGE GRIPS which will largely include the help of social media influencers.
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Beyond building brand awareness, Leadbetter hopes aspiring entrepreneurs will see his story and realize anyone can start their own business — it just takes drive, he said.
“After you have kids, responsibilities start to stack up, you maybe get a little more conservative,” Leadbetter said. “I always wanted to do my own thing at some point. If you read startup blogs or watch videos, there’s this whole idea that if you have a full time job, you will have to jump ship. That was where my mind was for awhile, [but you don’t.]”
Family ties to entrepreneurship — all local to the Kansa City region — also proved such a goal could be accomplished with the right amount of tenacity, he noted.
“I’ve always grown up knowing [entrepreneurship] is an option,” he said. ‘I’ve been exposed to an entrepreneurial mindset — probably more exposed to the entrepreneurial landscape than others in my position [at Bank Midwest.] It’s all helped me [get here.]”
Providing for his family and building a company he can pass on to his children is a gift Leadbetter couldn’t be more pleased with as customers begin responding to the impact of N-GAGE GRIPS, he added.
“I hope they see the example I have been able to set and I can show them they can make their own way and they don’t have to be relying on somebody else for a paycheck,” Leadbetter said.