Entrepreneur Wins Small-Business Competition

By John Cropley
The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A decade ago, entrepreneur Gina Grillo found a tick on her scalp and soon afterward became very sick with Lyme disease. After recovering, she looked for a non-toxic product to keep ticks away. That search led to the creation of her company and “Grillo’s Essential Insect Repellent.”

GREENWICH

A longtime entrepreneur and one-time Lyme disease patient has won a national award to expand her business selling all-natural insect repellent.

Gina Grillo of Grillo Essentials last week was named a top prize winner in the SCORE American Small Business Championship, an honor that carries a $25,000 award and a year’s worth of mentoring.

“It’s a huge recognition,” she said Monday.

SCORE is a national organization that fosters entrepreneurs just starting out.

Grillo has been seeing a steady growth in the market for her Grillo’s Essential Insect Repellent, which she makes
in a home workshop and sells to retailers around the Capital Region and three New England states.

It’s a product with roots in an unpleasant experience for Grillo.

A decade ago, she found an embedded tick on her scalp one day and very soon afterward was very sick with Lyme disease. After recovering, she looked for a non-toxic product to keep ticks away.

“I tried to find a repellent that satisfied my needs and couldn’t find anything,” she said.

Grillo decided to make her own, and turned to something she knew about: essential oils. Most other products that relied on oils contained only two to four, she said, but “I really wanted to go full-spectrum.”

With a lot of field testing — right in her own back yard in Greenwich, which is flush with deer and ticks — she started to determine which ones worked best.

She decided to add black flies and mosquitoes to the list of target insects vulnerable to her ingredients and conducted black fly tests in Indian Lake, where she grew up.

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