Jay Kriner, Texas State alumnus and inventor of the “BevBuckle,” said his idea was generated with some friends over a few beers at Lucy’s on The Square in San Marcos. Kriner’s invention is a belt buckle that folds down to support a beverage, freeing hands.
The “BevBuckle” started locally and recently made a national splash on the ABC reality show “Shark Tank,” where inventors pitch their ideas to investors hoping to team up with them and make a profit.
Kriner said though he was nervous, he had fun filming for “Shark Tank.”
“When you walk right in front of the sharks for the very first time, it is exactly what you see on TV,” Kriner said. “You have to stand there for 30 seconds while they get shots of you staring at each other. It was pretty funny trying to keep a straight face, and they were smiling. It was a fun experience.”
Kriner said one clip that did not air in his episode of “Shark Tank” was a short conversation with Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks.
“When Mark Cuban asked me where I went to school, I told him Texas State. He said ‘Go Bobcats’ in response,” Kriner said. “I thought that was really cool.”
Kriner said “Shark Tank” was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for multiple reasons.
“By teaming up with an investor, it can make your business exponentially grow over night,” Kriner said. “I put my product in front of 12 million viewers in one night. It was estimated to be over $3 million of national advertising that I didn’t have to pay for. On Wednesday, I had 168 website visitors. In the first hour the show aired, I had 22,000 visitors.”
Kriner said his “BevBuckle” required many years of design and planning. He didn’t have the luxury of using programs like AutoCAD to design the buckle, and instead used Microsoft Paint. He decided to pursue the “BevBuckle” in early 2008 after his father suggested more effort should be placed into making a “napkin idea” a reality.
“A lot of people have ideas and making something out of that rarely goes past napkin,” Kriner said. “It wasn’t like I was going to be rich or the buckle would be the next big thing, but more like something that would be fun to have.”
Kriner said he used all of his savings and the proceeds of the sale on a classic car his grandfather left to him as the initial investment for production.
Kriner’s initial investment and hard work selling the “BevBuckle” at assorted festivals paid off when he accepted a deal from “shark” Barbara Corcoran. She offered him $50,000 for a 51 percent stake in his company.
Kriner said many types of people love his product and send photos of themselves wearing the buckle. He said one of his favorite photos was from San Marcos local Kim Gaytan. In the photo, Gaytan is wearing her buckle with a Texas State t-shirt while tailgating during the first Bobcat football game of the season against Texas Tech.
“As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have one. I love it because it is fashionable, I can put it on different belts and it's functional as a beverage holder,” Gaytan said. “It has great entertainment value too.”