Brig Taylor was teaching abroad in Moldova when a student gave him a gift that would change his life: a belt without holes.
He’d never seen anything like it before, but knew right away that this holeless military belt would be widely popular back in the U.S. With a few tweaks, including an improved ratchet design and modern materials, Brig created a belt that is as functional as it is fashionable.
But there was one problem. The ratcheting buckle was already public domain.
After nine years of hard work improving upon the buckle’s technology, Brig’s company, SlideBelts, finally received its patent and moved out of his garage and on to exponential growth.
SlideBelts now employs more than 30 people, ranks on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list, and manufactures a full line of innovative sliding belts. The company believes even the most time-honored fashion can be improved on; the patented design (a tab on the buckle that ratchets into teeth-like ridges on the back of the strap) is the perfect marriage of utility and innovation. In addition to the original leather belt design for men, women, and children, SlideBelts also has a line of canvas belts and a multipurpose, military-esque Survival Belt with an integrated folding knife.
Brig’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and inventors on the long and winding path to success: if you’re going to create something, it should hurt—otherwise you’re not producing the absolute best fruit of your labors. “Most people cut corners on quality, in small or big ways,” says Brig. “To truly create, it requires one to focus to the extent of it not feeling good. Creating requires serious grit and pain to give the attention necessary to the work at hand.”
He also reminds fellow business owners not to worry about the competition. Anytime you see another company doing something extremely well, take it, implement it for yourself, and make it better. “We’re all kind of on the same team, battling against the sloppy world,” says Brig, who handles competition in business by focusing 90 percent of his attention “on the craft.”
While the initial capital to kickstart his business idea came from a student loan, Brig credits his early success to pouring back money from every sale into new inventory, slightly increasing the numbers each time. “I did this countless times, and still do,” he says. SlideBelts became a Lendio customer last fall when the company needed additional working capital for business growth.
What continues to drive Brig and his business forward? “It’s the adrenaline rush you feel after tackling big and small challenges alike and helping others accomplish the same goals,” he says. “My job, and my passion, is to constantly create that pressure internally for myself and externally for my team.”