Eric Karnehm's journey into entrepreneurship wasn't born out of a simple desire for change, but rather a forced pause in his life that redefined his path. 

"Two years ago, my ribs were broken in an accident at a bachelor party. I spent a year on the couch, which gave me a lot of time to think," Karnehm shares. 

With a background in nursing that was abruptly halted due to the physical demands post-injury, Karnehm sought a new avenue that could accommodate his recovery and need for flexibility. This led him to the entrepreneurship program at Ivy Tech.

"Being unable to return to nursing, grappling with COVID burnout, and always having a passion for inventing things since a young age, I found myself looking into programs that could complement my ideas," Karnehm explains.

His past inventions, like a couch caddy created in sixth grade, sparked a long-standing interest in improving everyday items—a trait that has defined much of his creative outlook.

Karnehm found Ivy Tech’s Garatoni School of Entrepreneurship & Innovation, where he started his business, Grappling Ghost LLC.

His first major project post-injury, Res-in-Piece—a clever play on words from "rest in peace" derives from Karnehm’s liking of horror—is a product that promises to innovate the cannabis accessory market. 

Karnehm, 43, said he had not smoked marijuana since he was in college. And even then, he had only tried it twice and says he hated it both times. 

“After sustaining my injuries, I was at my friend’s house, a safe place, and I figured, ‘why not?’ And I was pleasantly surprised to realize my pain went way down.” Karnehm said. “With my doctor’s permission, I kept with the same regimen.”

After a while. Karnehm realized how cumbersome the pipe cleaning process was, and was shocked at the extremely low number of approachable and affordable options available. 

"I came up with Res-in-Piece while trying to find a simple, effective way to clean my pipe," Karnehm noted. 

Karnehm’s approach to business reflects a blend of creativity and pragmatism. "Invent first, integrate, then elevate," he asserts, summarizing his business mantra. He isn't just building products; he's striving to enhance the user experience with practical innovations.

Karnehm – who came in second place at the Ivy Pitch Competition – credits the entrepreneurship program at Ivy Tech Indianapolis for providing an environment ripe for growth and innovation. 

"The class isn't just about learning to start a business; it's about transforming an idea into reality, and doing it in a way that's integrated with personal goals and community support," he says. 

The program has offered him a platform to refine his ideas, gain critical feedback, and network with like-minded individuals, which has been invaluable.

"Professor Steve Thrash and my classmates have been instrumental in pushing me from ideation to action. It's one thing to have an idea, but another to execute it effectively and learn the business nuances along the way," he adds.

As Karnehm nears the completion of his entrepreneurship studies, his focus is clear: "My goal is to continue innovating, to make everyday tasks simpler with my inventions. I want to create products that not only solve problems but are also easy to use."

With two patent-pending inventions and a growing business, Karnehm is a name to watch in the entrepreneurial landscape. His journey from the constraints of a couch to the creative expanses of inventing serves as a powerful reminder of how adversity can foster innovation and how one's passion can pave the way to new beginnings.

As Karnehm himself puts it, "Every setback is a setup for a comeback. I'm just getting started."

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.