G’rilla from the G’round Up: Mike Santoro Interview

G’rilla from the G’round Up: Mike Santoro Interview

In the early buildup to our Kickstarter campaign for this G’rilla Box self-cleaning mouthguard case, company founder Mike Santoro took a few minutes for an interview to dig deeper into the G’rilla Box origin story. Here’s a transcript of this interview:

[What’s your backstory, how did G’rilla come about?]

I’ve been involved in martial arts since the second grade, I started wrestling and I’ve been involved basically until right now, involved competitively across about 7 or 8 martial arts. It’s been my life, as a hobby, I’m no professional at any one of these things.

The one thing that’s been consistent has been using a mouthpiece, for these contact sports, and recently I kept looking for something to keep my mouthpiece clean, thinking about my hygiene more and especially as Covid started, and I couldn’t find anything. The best that you could do, really, is to have a mouthpiece container that’s plastic, or a plastic bag, and you just throw it into your gym bag. And I think the intent is to start washing it, after you’ve used it once or twice. Inevitably you forget, then when you go to put it in you have to look at it and go “oh my God, I have to put this thing in my mouth?” It smells bad, looks bad, its awrful.

So I was really looking for something that solves that problem. I think the G’rilla Box will do it, with the cleaning solution in the back, it just makes it really easy.


[How has this come together from idea to getting ready to launch?]

It’s over the course of a couple of years actually. I started drawing sketches, making the best I could. Then I brought samples of a few mouthguard containers and then I started working with an incredible engineer that really helped me significantly getting this together. We collaborated on this for about a year and we finally landed on a really good place for the design. It’s tough because I’ve nver invented anything before. It’s like having a thousand different jobs and just scratching the surface to figure out those jobs are as you go. So it’s been a hell of an education along the way and it’s just going to keep continuing. It’s frustrating but it’s very hopeful and it’s all so fun.

The engineer I’m working with, I give him all the credit in the world, sticking with my nonsense and steering me right, it’s very cool.


[What’s the vision?]

A mouthpiece container is an afterthought, you never even think about it. Because it’s just a piece of plastic, a place to find your mouthpiece. But it fires me up to see when I talk about it and see how people’s reactions change over the conversation. People understand but then it’s a “woah” moment when they realize that’s how they could use it. It’s applicable for any contact sport and also orthodontics. There’s a big need that for whatever reason hasn’t been met, and G’rilla box can solve that. 

It’s the obvious things, when you’re done with a training session, for the most part, you clean all your equipment, but you don’t even think about your mouthguard. And that’s the part that you’re putting it in your mouth! It’s almost like what was I doing all these years, why wasn’t I thinking of this?

To read more about the Kickstarter campaign, check out our more recent press release.

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