Being active has long been an important part of Keith Basik’s life. As a West Pointer and later an infantryman in the U.S. Army, he would spend a good portion of each day working up a sweat in the gym or outside running. Years later, his continued active lifestyle is what led him to create the Flip Towel.
Basik, 52, came up with the concept in 2012 while running in a 10-mile road race. He knew he didn’t want to be bogged down by carrying a hand towel to wipe off sweat during the competition, so he used the next best thing: his T-shirt. But even that was inconvenient and little help in a sweaty situation. So, during the run he began brainstorming ways to carry a towel while still having his hands free.
“I began noticing at the gym, too, that people would carry towels from one piece of equipment to the next,” he says. “But then they would have to put the towel on the dirty ground while exercising.”
Basik, who lives in Naples, got to work coming up with a prototype, trying to find a way to get the towel to fold and stay in place during workouts. First he tried Velcro and then an elastic band, but neither option worked.
“I was ready to scrap the idea entirely, but then I decided to try using magnets,” he says. The result was Flip Towel, a versatile microfiber towel that straps to your wrist like a wristband and folds neatly into place when not in use. When it’s unfolded, the towel is slightly bigger than an adult palm. “I showed [the prototype] to people and they thought it was pretty cool. There is nothing else like it on market. It’s a whole new category that is different from sweat bands and towels.”
Basik, a graduate of the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program at FGCU, has completed an initial run of several thousand Flip Towels, which he sold for $19 per towel on his website, fliptowel.net. In November he wrapped up a Kickstarter campaign that reached its goal of $15,000. Those proceeds will go toward producing the next run of the product and creating a larger online and social media presence.
“I think it’s a good product and it works well. It needs some fine tuning in terms of look, size and material,” he says. Basik is also focusing on creating different variations of the towel, such as a version that has a cooling quality. He sees the Flip Towel eventually being available in several iterations.
So what’s Basik’s advice for other entrepreneurs?
“It takes a while and you need to be persistent,” he says. “You have to be able to sit back, listen to what people say, and take criticism. And be careful where you spend your money. If you’re not careful, you may spend a lot of money in areas that are costly. Also, make sure you have a good patent attorney. I’ve heard horror stories about the amount of money people have spent on the patent process.”