From Classroom Concept to Thriving Company

PROVO, Utah – Jun 28, 2019 – Dissembled computer mice, parts of a camera, and batteries scattered everywhere are not typical under-the-bed clutter, but for Bryan Brittain, his childhood floor was littered with the evidence of an inventive mind. Putting that mind to work, Brittain is now co-founder of Thrive Smart Systems, an innovative landscaping company, which has claimed over $85,000 in competition earnings.

Success stories don’t just happen overnight, and there were months of preparation for Thrive to blossom. According to Brittain, a Camas, Washington, native and entrepreneurship major, his successes are due to the Crocker Innovation Fellowship course offered at BYU. “That class single-handedly changed the entire trajectory of my career,” declares Brittain. This yearlong innovative experience brought together the teammates, now turned coworkers, who created Thrive. The Crocker Innovation Fellowship strategically places students from a variety of different majors on a team together, with the task of solving a problem. Brittain’s high hopes and entrepreneurial background landed him a spot on the dream team.

From mechanical engineers to industrial designers, this team of five set out in hot pursuit after a pain point. Brittain and his team found their issue in the irrigation industry. After interviewing hundreds of landscapers, the team realized the irritations caused by wiring sprinklers could be solved by simply removing the wires. And thus, the idea for Thrive was born, a self-charging wireless valve switch that retrofits to any control box. This wireless control system cuts costs and hours of manual labor for landscapers.

Even with a great product and a determined team, Thrive was still lacking a vital element—money. With money on the mind, Thrive’s creators embarked down a long road of award-winning pursuit, entering every competition they could find. However, they hit a few bumps in the road early on. “We knew we had a successful business with huge potential, but we struggled with our ability to convey that message,” explains Brittain. “When we didn’t make it through the first round of the Miller Competition, we worried we wouldn’t get the funding we needed.” Knowing what needed to be done, the teammates devoted all of their time to competition preparation. Their efforts literally paid off as Thrive won competition after competition, racking up $85,000 in winnings.

Seeing these successes, Brittain wrestled with the decision of working on Thrive as a side project or quitting his full-time job and devoting all of his energy to foster this company. “A phone call I had with my team left me feeling pretty stressed out, and I just started thinking of selling my shares and keeping my full-time job. But those thoughts only lasted for a couple minutes and then I was like ‘What am I thinking?’ This is the opportunity of a lifetime and I would regret it if I didn’t go all in.” In that moment, Brittain knew that his desire to succeed in business made Thrive well worth the sacrifice.

Brittain, when entering BYU in 2015, couldn’t foresee himself making a sacrifice for a business, let alone studying business. A love for business was not what drove Brittain to entrepreneurship but rather his love for everything other than business—medicine, engineering, international relations, and music. These were all things that Brittain saw himself studying when he entered college. But when a presenter in one of his classes remarked, “Entrepreneurship is the application of all knowledge," something clicked. Brittain’s inability to choose just one interest, combined with countless childhood inventions, meant he was destined to be an entrepreneur.

This dreamer-turned-doer praises the entrepreneurship program at BYU Marriott for forcing execution. As someone who struggled with motivation, Brittain started toying with the idea of majoring in something that would force him to become the type of person that he wanted to become.

With a business in the making and success on the horizon, the entrepreneurship program was victorious in the revamp of Brittain’s will to work. The prospects of being able to create something that would not have existed without him propels Brittain forward. If only childhood Brittain could see himself now.

BYU Marriott entrepreneurship alum Bryan Brittain. Photo courtesy of Bryan Brittain.
BYU Marriott entrepreneurship alum Bryan Brittain. Photo courtesy of Bryan Brittain.
Thrive Smart Systems wins $40,000 in 2019 Utah Entrepreneurship Challenge.
Thrive Smart Systems won $40,000 at the 2019 Utah Entrepreneurship Challenge. From left to right, Skyler Rowley, Seth Bangerter, Bryan Brittain, Aislynn Edwards, Grant Rowberry, and Spencer Low (not pictured). Photo courtesy of Bryan Brittain.
Thrive Smart Systems' teammates, now turned coworkers, posing for a photo taken at BYU graduation in April, 2019.
Thrive Smart Systems teammates, now turned coworkers, posing for a photo taken at BYU graduation in April 2019. Photo courtesy of Bryan Brittain.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Camden Carter