BGSU Firelands student wins $25,000 for invention
Alissa Widman Neese
Apr 24, 2014


In the world of entrepreneurs, Robert Striblen considers himself a force to be reckoned with.

His product: “Belt Force,” an adjustable apparatus used to equip a box or tote with an easy-to-carry harness and handle.

His big break: “The Hatch,” a competition at Bowling Green State University main campus providing him with a $25,000 investment to help his fledgling business flourish.

“If all goes according to plan, we’re going to see this on the shelves soon,” said Striblen, 35, a BGSU Firelands senior studying business.

“The Hatch” is based on the reality show “Shark Tank,” in which aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business proposals to a panel of potential investors. The Bowling Green State University contest, exclusively for its students, is the only competition in the country that provides similar investment opportunities at the college level.

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Striblen, the only BGSU Firelands student who qualified, swept the 12-person competition with his Belt Force proposal. Five of six investors from the panel agreed to fund his project with startup cash, while the sixth plans to help with retail distribution.

The investors, as well as the university’s faculty, believe Belt Force will be in high demand.

“He practiced giving his pitch to our students before ‘The Hatch,’ and based on the questions he received, I’d say there’s a huge potential market for a product like this” said Michelle Brodke, Striblen’s adviser at BGSU Firelands.

A friend and fellow veteran inspired Striblen to develop Belt Force.

In 2004, while Striblen was serving in the Navy, a friend in the Army lost an arm while fighting in Iraq. Everyday tasks, such as moving multiple or heavy objects, became difficult for him to accomplish.

By using Belt Force, he’s become independent again.

“I invented this device to make his life easier, sort of as a hobby,” Striblen said. “But once several people saw it, they loved it and wanted one, too, so it’s really been a consumer-driven process”

Since then, Striblen has developed several prototypes and is poised to produce 1,000 of the devices this year.

Although Belt Force is not yet on the market, the product will be available for purchase this summer after Striblen launches its website, beltforce.com  . He also plans to market it on social media.

Particularly, Striblen thinks the product could become popular in the moving and travel industries, as well as among older adults.

If the product makes it big, he knows it could drastically change his life, as well as the lives of his wife, Holly, and four children, Jesse, 15, Brooklyn, 10, Abigail, 7, and Corey, 10 months.

They’re more than prepared.

“This has been a remarkable experience, and we’re just getting started,” Striblen said. “We’re ready to ride this wherever it takes us”



Good for you Robert! Your act of kindness leading to, what looks like, a successful business and a good future for your family.

Belt Force's picture
Belt Force

Thank you for your support!


It's such a logical design, I'm surprised it wasn't invented already. Great job and may you achieve your dream!

Belt Force's picture
Belt Force

Thank you for your support!


Some of the best inventions I've seen or read about in the last 5 years or so have been some of the most ingenious ideas and are some of the simplest in design. 95% of the time I think to myself why didn't I think of that. 8~)

Belt Force's picture
Belt Force

It started as a way to help! Thank you for your support!


I hope he does well but it seems I would have the box in the house by the time I strapped and unstrapped the belt. just saying


Go back and read the paragraph that begins "In 2004". Put yourself in the position of the friend who inspired the idea and rethink your comment.

Belt Force's picture
Belt Force

What if you lived on the 4th floor of an apartment building with no elevator? And only had one arm? Thank you for your support!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Great job, I hope this is successful for you. If I may include a suggestion to further enhance your product it would be to perhaps find a way to put in colored/patterned stripes along the straps for "standard-sized" moving boxes. Especially if you want to market this to places like U-Haul, it would dovetail well into their easy to assemble boxes. For example:

If all of the straps are fastened up to red triangles (the shapes are for those who are colorblind), I know that I can easily snap in and out of Large boxes; whereas blue circles are for Smalls. Adding a bit of reflective material may not be bad either for safety purposes or those who may use it when hauling material using a bicycle or motorcycle. Or perhaps to avoid possible litigation that material can be used to indicate on each harness what it's maximum capacity is so ignorance is less likely to come back and harm you.

I'm no lawyer nor OSHA inspector, but a fellow entrepreneur who wants to lend an observance to make you even more successful! I hope these suggestions help (if you are on here reading this story).

Belt Force's picture
Belt Force

Future developments are always considered. Step one: prove the concept/websales
Step two: scalability/UHaul-Walmart
Step three: choices, colors, customization, retail distribution
Thank you for your support!


You go Robert!!! We miss you at the P O!!!!!

Belt Force's picture
Belt Force

Thank you for your support! God bless the PO


Incredible! This is a great example for us all: look for a solution rather than whining about the problem. My hat is off to both Mr. Striblen and BGSU.

Belt Force's picture
Belt Force

Thank you for your support! Beltforce.com coming soon!


You should see if you can go on the show Shark Tank and try to get those guys as investors as well!