How One Entrepreneur Went from Getting Robbed to Business Success

The AquaVault Story

AquaVault is a portable outdoor travel safe that protects your valuables while you swim on vacation. Small Business Trends contacted Jonathan Kinas, Co-Founder/ Managing Partner, Aqua Vault Inc, to learn the story behind this product.

Like a lot of great products, Kinas pointed to the old adage that necessity is the mother of invention.

The AquaVault Story

“We got robbed at the beach,” he writes. “And then invented a product and created a company that got the attention (and investment) of Shark Tank favorite Daymond John.”

Kinas saw a need to solve a similar problem affecting people all around the world on holidays. He enlisted the help of two college buddies and started down the entrepreneurial path that led to AquaVault. His target market was fellow travelers.

Millions Robbed

“Millions of people a year are robbed while vacationing to the beautiful beaches and pools around the world. Can you imagine the feeling of traveling to another country and having your wallet, phone and passport stolen while you are swimming? It’s a terrible feeling that happens all too often.’

These portable safes attach themselves to lounge chairs, golf carts and anything else like a bicycle or stroller. They are made from ABS thermoplastic which can repel several attempts by thieves. The product has branched out and is now being used at water parks, hotels theme parks, pools and on cruise ships across the globe.

It’s even drawn investments from Shark Tank’s Daymond John.

Water and Slash-Resistant

FlexSafe is a lightweight product that’s water and slash-resistant. There’s also a phone case, biometric fingerprint lock and beach chair safe to choose from.

Kinas is an understandably proud entrepreneur.

“Our product line is also being sold in some of the largest retailers including Disney World and Bed Bath and Beyond,” he says. “We went from a small company doing $87,000 our first year to now generating millions a year with a recent 8 figure valuation.”

Kinas’ story should motivate other folks looking to start a small business. He shares their mindset at the beginning.

Invention Process

“We started out without knowing a single thing about the invention process other than we’re going to make a lot of mistakes along the way,” he says.

We knew the landmines were inevitable so all we could hope for was to not land on one big enough that we could not recover.”

Kinas also stressed how having the right team is critical. He felt it was important to have people around them who were smarter than them. And who weren’t afraid to challenge their opinions. That thinking led to action.

Particular Strategy

There’s one particular strategy that we implemented early on to de-risk our startup,” he says. “That was to reach out to the ten smartest people we knew and encourage their brutally honest criticism. We asked them for their top two reasons they could envision us failing. Then we methodically addressed those concerns with precision.”

He’s got more advice for his fellow entrepreneurs citing talent, discipline and imagination as great assets. If you are sitting on the fence wondering when to get started and waiting for the perfect time, Kinas says it is now.

“There are so many unknown variables that unless you put your blinders on and just get to work, you’ll wind up convincing yourself to back out before you begin,” he says.

“Based on my experience, an entrepreneur is better off to expect the unexpected. They need to be very nimble and embrace the roller coaster they will inevitably experience.”


Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.