Welcome to this week’s Seneca One Deep Dive! The team at Seneca One identifies exciting up-and-coming people, projects, and companies to dive into and share with our audiences. This week we’re testing the water with Derrick Parson, founder of GRASPIE.
BUFFALO, NY- When you sit down to talk with Derrick Parson, you’re struck by the power of aura that surrounds him.
He’s calm. He’s cool. He’s collected.
When he pauses between sentences, you lean in a bit and hang on to the edge of your seat.
His words have meaning. They exude a sense of hope and confidence. There are no thoughts of failure and he doesn’t flinch when asked about the future state of his business. Instead, with a level head, he celebrates the clear vision of a gritty entreprenuer ready for the next chapter of his business journey.
Parson, the founder of GRASPIE, a web-based training and engagement platform for new employees is looking to pivot his business model moving into the new year and target professional wellness for employees in the corporate, non-profit and small business world. Despite a year of trials and tribulations, he is still standing.
“What happens in business is there is a focus and a shift,” Parson said. “How do you adapt to what is happening right now? We went from being very niche in the hospitality and retail market to now the product we are going to release over the next few months, we’re targeting Fortune 500 companies. We’re already talking to Google through a couple of partnerships that we have.”
In 2018, GRASPIE participated in Launch NY a program of 43North with a client of over 2,000 employees. They were planning on bringing on other companies and expand their team here in Buffalo. Just as GRASPIE was about to launch from the rooftops of Seneca One, the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic tried to force GRASPIE into submission.
Last spring, sales started to decline, people were laidoff and furloughed, and the once niche business of the hospitality and retail market appeared to be no longer needed. Right around that same time, he was rattled by the loss of his mother to Covid-19.
To some, the pressures of the pandemic might force them to step away, but for Parson’s it was a matter of whether or not he wanted to continue the business. With an everchanging landscape, he started to ask his customers what their needs and wants were.
“We said ‘what does that look like?,'” Parson said. “It was really about making sure people’s mental capacity is stable. That word mental capacity, and these are HR executives and learning development people. They started throwing around the word wellness. And so, we said, ‘Wow, at this day and age people are focused on mental wellness and physical wellness. But what we were looking at was another playing field which was professional wellness.”
Despite being a New York Giants fan, Parson “trusts the process.” His clear vision and focus of professional wellness is something that he plans to pursue under a completely different name.
He’s doing it right here in the 529-foot tall, 1.4 million square foot structure that dominates the WNY skyline. It’s just another example of his hunger and passion for business and entreprenuership.
“Yes, the name is already decided and C-Corp with Banks in Silicon Valley is already set up,” Parson said.
We can’t to see what is in store for Parson’s and his future company.