ASU startup reinvents shovel, digs up funds for venture

With the implementation of ergonomics and biomechanics the ergonomic shovel is designed to help the user complete their task while minimizing injury and muscle irritation. Courtesy of Bosse Tools With the implementation of ergonomics and biomechanics the ergonomic shovel is designed to help the user complete their task while minimizing injury and muscle irritation. Courtesy of Bosse Tools

An ASU-based tool company is reinventing of the oldest tools in history: the shovel.

Bosse Tools, based at ASU SkySong in Scottsdale, is a tool company that is changing hardware tools through ergonomics with its proposed “two-handed shovel” design.

The company’s two-handed tools features a patented rotational center handle located about halfway down the shaft that allows users to perform the task needed while improving posture and reducing back and muscle strain.

Phoenix native Stephen Walden founded Bosse Tools in 2012 when he was earning his MBA in finance from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

“I know what it’s like to be at the working end of this tool, and I thought to myself, ‘There has to be a better way of going about using one of these,’” Walden said. “I saw it as a really great combination of a need and an opportunity.”

Walden said he decided on the name “Bosse,” because he felt it conveyed a sense of power and strength in an industry that is dominated by other tool brands that have short and strong names like Husky and Razor-Back.

After founding the company, Walden found a business partner, Aaron Gageleard.

“Aaron was still at ASU and I was just finishing up school in California, and we decided that we should move the California company over to Arizona and the two of us should partner up and work on this together by bringing Aaron’s strength in manufacturing and my strength working for a previous startup together and make a company in Arizona that is strong,” Walden said.

The two went to high school in central Phoenix at Brophy College Preparatory, and they were not exactly close friends, but their passion for entrepreneurship brought them together to work as partners.

Walden, as founder and chief executive officer, appointed Gageleard to be the chief operating officer of Bosse Tools.

“I would say my role is more toward the manufacturing logistics, overseeing the engineering, making sure everything is done correctly and working with the factory to ensure the product gets to our door and out to the consumers,” Gageleard said.

Gageleard said the company became involved with SkySong in early January of 2014, started with the ASU Startup Accelerator and is now seeking involvement in another ASU program.

“Whether you’re ASU faculty, student or an external, they’ll let you come in there and apply for the program, you pitch and do the whole business plan thing, said Gageleard. “ASA is really the incubator, which turns into the program that we’re in now, the Edson program.”

ASU’s Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative encourages student-entrepreneurs to pitch their idea, product or service to the program for a chance to be awarded office space, mentoring, up to $20,000 in seed funding and educational programs that will help them progress in their venture.

Bosse Tools’ hard work is paying off, as the company recently dug up a $200,000 investment from the Maricopa County Manufacturing Venture Fund.

The $1 million fund was launched to invest in companies that are actively involved in ASU’s startup accelerator programs by providing manufacturing support to startups.

Mitzi Montoya, vice president and university dean of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at ASU, manages the fund with Charlie Lewis, vice president for venture development for Arizona Technology Enterprises.

Montoya has met with Walden and Gageleard several times, and she said she is impressed with their entrepreneurial spirit.

“Aaron and Stephen at Bosse Tools are in the ASU Skysong office almost 24/7, so I see them often. They are putting in the hard work that is needed to make a good idea succeed," Montoya said. “They are actively engaged in our entrepreneurship programs and they are laser-focused on the success of their venture. We’re very proud of the success they’ve achieved to date.”

Walden says Bosse plans to use the funding to help them produce their physical product.

“The money will give us enough to get production started and help us produce a little over 10,000 tools to sell," Walden said. "This funding will allow us to get a head start on the manufacturing process."

The team at Bosse Tools may have a vision for its long-term future, but for now, its goal is simple: get its products into consumers' hands.

“We just want these products to be used and really accepted into the marketplace for what they’re worth, which is the benefit we’re bringing to the consumer," Gageleard said.

Walden and Gageleard said they hope to start working on efficacy testing, which would help them stake their claim in the hardware industry that they are offering a truly ergonomic product that has not been offered to the consumer before as well as helping their product be accepted in the marketplace.

There are similar ergonomic products available online to purchase, but Walden and Gageleard say through their research, these products are not ergonomic.

“It’s not like organic where you have to obtain your certification before you slap it on a product, there’s no such thing in ergonomics," Gageleard said. “We really pride ourselves on doing the efficacy testing and proving that we’re not just another marketing scheme. Instead, we want to back our claims with the data because we care about our customers, innovate the industry and make it safer for everybody.”

As the success for Bosse Tools is just beginning, Walden said young entrepreneurs should market their ideas to everyone they can.

“You have to get your idea in front of people and have them use your product, use your idea and use your service. You might think that you have a million-dollar idea, but you may be the only one who thinks that," Walden said. “It’s one thing to think that you have a good idea, but it’s much more powerful to have a thousand other people reaching out to say that your idea is even better than you thought.”


Reach the reporter atanicla@asu.eduor follow him on Twitter@andrewniclaASU.

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