After COVID halts business and black-tie fundraiser, Reno entrepreneur pivots to launch Bio Sealed
RENO, Nev. — Over the last six months, many entrepreneurs big and small have been forced to pivot amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Perhaps no one epitomizes that more than Chad Grayot.
In mid-March, Grayot, an entrepreneur based in Reno, was coming to grips with the fact that a fundraiser he’d been planning for months — and his business — were forced to abruptly pause due to COVID-19.
When Nevada’s stay-at-home order was mandated on March 17, Grayot was less than two weeks away from hosting the inaugural A Night Out In Reno (NOIR).
Grayot had spent most of 2019 organizing the black-tie creative event — set to include cirque performers, games, dancing, drink gardens, and more — scheduled for March 28, 2020, at the Reno Ballroom.
“I went to so many of these charity events and they’re so boring, I couldn’t stand it anymore,” Grayot said with a laugh during a recent interview recently inside his office at Reno Hive. “I wanted to create a new idea.”
With that new idea dashed, Grayot regrouped and narrowed his focus on his company, Reno Hexayurt. Launched in 2015, the company builds weatherproof yurts for people attending outdoor events and festivals, such as Burning Man, Coachella and High Sierra Music Festival.
“After ‘A Night Out In Reno’ failed, I was like, ‘We’re all good, Reno Hexayurt is going to be fine, we’re going to keep increasing our sales,’” Grayot recalled. “And then … bam!”
Grayot was hit with the realization the pandemic was going to wipe out outdoor events and music festivals near and far in 2020 — meaning he was unlikely to see strong sales come in for Reno Hexayurt.
“When the music festivals canceled, that company just tanked,” said Grayot, flicking his hand downward. “So then, I was like, ‘uh-oh.’ And within hours, I went into panic mode — but in a positive way.
“In my head, I was like, you have an opportunity when a problem arises. You can either become innovative; resilient; understand that you have an option to control it; and the ability to progress forward … or you can fail.”
Grayot chose the former.
Recognizing the need for sterilization and disinfection services as COVID-19 cases surged, Grayot zeroed in on developing a business that could help the Reno-Sparks economy while keeping its residents safer.
And so, after 10 straight hours of research — and thanks to the advice of his father, an engineer — Grayot started contacting companies across the U.S. that make “smart” fog machines for sterilization.
For days, he called and emailed manufacturers, inquiring about purchasing a machine, only to be denied each time.
“They were like ‘absolutely not,’” he recalled. “They said they’re in high demand in hospitals based on COVID-19 outbreaks, as well as airplanes and heavily frequented places in the states that need them. I said, I completely understand, but my city could utilize this. And if we’re able to get one of your machines, we’d be able to at least help our community.
“They said, ‘no.’”
Undeterred, Grayot kept calling and emailing and calling and emailing. All the while, he started building a website for the sterilization company he hoped to eventually launch — in true if-you-build-it-they-will-come fashion.
“I’m building a website, writing down everything as if I did own one of these machines, with the expectation that I was going to figure out how to get one,” Grayot said.
Finally, after a week of calls and emails, a company told Grayot they would sell him a sterilizing fog machine if he paid for it right then and there. He did.
After his persistence paid off, Grayot found an EPA-approved company that sold him “6-LOG reduction” solution, which achieves “99.9999% sterilization.”
Once he got his hands on the solution and the machine, Grayot educated and trained himself how to properly use the products.
BACK IN BUSINESS
By the end of March, less than two weeks after A Night out in Reno and Reno Hexayurt were stymied by COVID, he was back in business with a startup aimed to help fight the virus.
Bio Sealed officially started with one machine, cultivating 10 clients in its first full month of operating.
Five months later, in late August, Bio Sealed has grown to six machines and a pool of clients — ranging from residences to restaurants to warehouses to golf courses — that has “at least doubled” every month, Grayot said.
He added that the company, which has four full-time staff and two on-call team members, is currently focusing on serving the Reno-Sparks and Carson region.
The company’s smart machines output a fragrance-free, bleach-free vaporizing fog that Grayot said targets every crack and crevice in an entire cubic footage space, without leaving any wetness behind.
Bio Sealed’s big machines can cover 110,000 cubic feet in an hour, while its small machines can output 15,000 cubic feet an hour, he noted.
Grayot said any business or organization that has a positive COVID case can use Bio Sealed’s services and reopen the day after their space is treated, rather than shut down for an extended period. Offering an example, Grayot said Bio Sealed recently sterilized a Lake Tahoe-based golf and country club that had an employee with COVID-19.
“They were going to close for 10 days because that’s standard,” he said. “We were able to completely wipe out any stagnant pathogens, so they were able to open up the next day.
“We stop the liability on their end and put the liability on us,” he continued. “They can go back to functioning without being freaked out or losing that income or not knowing if they need to put their team members on unemployment for a week.”
Grayot said Bio Sealed’s goal is to target heavily frequented places so the company can have the biggest impact on Reno-Sparks and Northern Nevada. By the end of the year, he hopes the company is in a position to “exponentially grow” and be able to eventually raise “serious” capital and franchise.
“Within two years, I’d like to have about 20 franchises,” he added.
As for Grayot’s other ventures?
Reno Hexayurt is still in hibernation until outdoor events return.
A Night Out In Reno was initially postponed to Oct. 24. But, due to the COVID-related limits on large gatherings, Grayot told the NNBW the event will have to be moved to late March 2021.
In the meantime, he’s focused on growing his sterilization company that was born out of being forced to pivot amid the pandemic.
“It’s important for any person, when they need to pivot, to understand what pivoting means to them,” Grayot said. “For me, with the town shutting down, I wanted to find something that could benefit the community.”
Since launching its new pediatric products two years ago, Neo Medical has seen a 35% growth in sales; moreover, the company has seen revenue grow 15% year-over-year since relocating to Sparks in late 2012.