Evan and Ganya Anderson are the “Mad Scientist” and “Resident Geek” founders of Gizmonics, a service business that aims to support others in their creative endeavors through kickstarting new products, patents and prototypes. The two business creatives have always preferred taking the path less traveled.
Whether it be an unconventional career path or collaborating with others on an entirely unique and new business model, the two creatives will always look to support business owners with a vision for something daring and new. I sat down with Evan and Ganya Anderson to discuss what they do for their clients, managing expectations and how people can better prepare for launching their product.
Evan and Ganya Anderson both graduated with Master’s Degrees from UND, starting their post-education lives in the corporate world. While it may not have been the ideal dream life right away, they focused on financial health and putting themselves in a comfortable position for the journey ahead.
“I was with Boeing and Ganya with US West. We always knew we wanted to do our own thing. We both grew up in a farm background which is very entrepreneurial. I think we were smart enough to know that we needed to go out, get some experience, money and work on important things first,” Evan said.
Years later, the two pursued a passion project revolving around a bicycle repair stand that doubled as a bike rack. As they were engineering and prototyping their invention, they began attracting other people that were trying to bring their ideas to the market.
“They would come to us for prototyping or advice on anything from material selection to intellectual property protection. We ended up taking on some clients and doing some machining work. Our new business wasn’t cash flowing very positively so it was kind of nice to have the income and that was really where we started consulting and helping others do what we were trying to do,” Evan said. “When we licensed that bike product to a much larger company, we realized that now there wasn’t anything holding us back. The idea was that we were going to help people go from a scribble on a napkin to something that’s essentially ready to find a licensing or manufacturing partner. We bought a building and spent a lot of time getting it fixed up and filled with our equipment.”
One of our client project was in the body armor industry. As we developed body armor solutions for the military and police that were cutting-edge in terms of weight, performance and cost.– Evan Anderson
According to the Andersons, there was no shortage of North Dakotans with bright ideas that were filled with potential. However, there was a budget constraint on many of these people’s ideas, which left the two mildly disappointed. The two were ready to help anyone in need, but wanted to support those that were ready to take larger leaps with a heavier commitment to their vision.
“They come up with this great idea and they’re ready to become a millionaire with it, and then they would only have $50 to invest. We’re fortunate that we made some connections with Bobcat and a few others in town to be able to help them do some of their prototyping work, as they have larger budgets that will help our cash flow better. We also did some work with an engineering consulting company in Bismarck. They really liked our whole prototyping capability,” Evan said. “They offered to work with us and keep me on to lead a prototyping division, so we signed a three-year employment agreement. But at the end of three years, it wasn’t really working and I ended up buying the company back. Ganya and I decided that we weren’t doing all the fun stuff anymore. I was more of an administrator. She was doing all the accounting and I was worried about making payroll and wasn’t getting to build stuff anymore and it wasn’t as fun.”
Moving forward and striking out on a trail of their own, Evan and Ganya created Gizmonics with the idea that the company would never be bigger than the two of them. The two built their shop and headquarters on Evan’s parents’ property near the University of Mary in Bismarck. The location gives them a country setting with wildlife, as well as plenty of space for tools, equipment and blossoming ideas.
Take a look around the Gizmonics Shop!
Did You Know?
“We’re able to do fewer projects because we have a lot less bandwidth with only two of us. We created Gizmonics with the mindset that we were going to be a lot more selective about the projects that we took on. The people we’re working with have projects that are fun to us, and they have a budget. We like the ones that push the edge of our knowledge of materials or an industry. I just got a call that I’m going to be building an electron beam gun, so it’s really crazy stuff on the edge of Applied Physics,” Evan said. “Other client projects include ethanol fireplace fuel, as well as some nutritional health products and bars, so we had to learn FDA requirements. We do laugh that it seems a number of our products have either an element of imminent death or extremely tough regulations, but we like climbing those learning curves as it keeps it interesting.”
The duo behind Gizmonics is currently involved in a project with Gateway for Science involving their new location in Fargo, ND!
With a wide range of ever-intriguing projects and clients coming their way, selecting them can be daunting when there’s only so much time to work between two people. According to Ganya, one of the biggest obstacles admittedly has always been finding the right clients to work with. While it can be exciting to always have a new project on their hands, it can potentially become overwhelming at times. Furthermore, as much as they want to help, some clients may not be at the level of pursuit for their project that the Andersons are expecting.
“In hindsight, we’ve said yes to some things that we shouldn’t have, mainly in the interest of keeping busy. We’ve worked with a lot of people and witnessed their obstacles, whereas we did the whole corporate stint to save our money. We both come from fiscally conservative families without being borrowers. When a $500 investment is insurmountable for some, it’s really hard to be an entrepreneur,” Evan said.
“There are plenty of sources of financing, funding and grants out there. But quite often, people don’t have the appreciation for it that pushes them to those next levels. We help manage their expectations without crushing their hopes and dreams. A lot of entrepreneurs start with their passion, meaning their side hustle,” Ganya added. “Many of their dreams will never become more than that, where they’ll be able to walk away from their day job and benefits. When we sit down with a new client, we talk about the realities. It probably won’t work out the way you hope it will and it’s going to cost three times as much as you think it will.”
While not everyone may be up for the challenge, the Andersons have created a plan that gives entrepreneur hopefuls a “test run” of sorts to determine their level of ambition for the project. While it may deter some, it proves that others are up for the challenge and have the motivation and drive to find success.
“We tell everybody to make their first model out of cardboard and duct tape to keep it as cheap and inexpensive as possible. Oftentimes, we’ll take that first step with them and 3D print something inexpensive. We’ll then give them an assignment to get feedback on. If they don’t have that passion or drive, we’ll never hear from them again. They will self-reflect that they don’t have the grit that it takes,” Ganya said. “It’s never a big assignment, but it’s often just a little thing that shows them that they aren’t up for it. It’s nice though to see these people try. I think it’s fun for people to have this idea that they’ve had for years. Even if nothing came out of it, they can go away feeling like they pursued it and didn’t just forget about it. We have a lot of folks that just get that very first prototype and we never hear from them again. And I think they love that it’s in their hands.”
Impressive Community Involvement!
Between Evan and Ganya’s accomplishments, the Andersons are involved with The Idea Center, the Chamber EDC Board, Capital Gallery Board, TedXUMary, Leadership North Dakota and more!
The Gizmonics Mobile Lab allows them to bring their work on the go as needed!
While these clients love their idea and potential success, bringing the product to life takes much more time and effort than many expect. While challenging, Evan and Ganya state that it’s far from impossible with the right determination and ambition. “We want to help them with their ideas as much as we can. Between Gizmonics and other resources in North Dakota, most people aren’t lacking any resources. [North Dakota] is so different from other places in terms of support of the entrepreneurial community. It’s easy to get help and support, so there’s a real benefit for up-and-coming entrepreneurs,” Evan said.
Phone: (701) 202-7203
Email: [email protected]