Down the creaking stairs in his parents’ basement in Spokane, Daniel Dylina sits at his sewing machine and gridded table with scraps of cloth that he’s cut from the rolls of military-grade cloth stacked behind him.
The 18-year-old is sewing tourniquet holders, a simple loop of laminated elastic, and marketing them through his business Titan Tactical Innovations. He’s found success in local business competitions and is now selling his wares across the country. He hopes to make a living while also making the life-saving tool more easily accessible by military or medics in situations when each second is a step toward bleeding out.
He started carrying a tourniquet when he trained with firearms two years ago. “Just because,” he said. “You never know what could go wrong. Stupid things happen.”
Part of his training with guns also included training with medical equipment. But when he went to grab the lifesaving tourniquet device, he needed to pull apart velcro flaps, and he would fumble. He began to wonder if there was an easier way to access it.
So he asked his mom to teach him to sew.
He began making prototypes with multiple straps and firmer materials. He experimented. He got feedback from users of the tourniquet holder. His friend in an Army Ranger battalion carried one overseas, Dylina said.
His first prototype was a failure. What went wrong? “Everything,” he said in between laughs. It wasn’t rigid enough, so you couldn’t pull it out.
The mentality that led him forward, he said, was, “I just like building stuff.”
Eventually, he came up with a single-looped sleeve open on both ends. Dylina wanted an easy, simple, lightweight product. “You don’t need to over design something,” he said.
Things picked up during his senior year of high school at Riverpoint Academy when Dylina took a business class called Trep Studio. It allowed him to enter two business competitions, one at Whitworth University and another at Washington State University.
“That was so much fun. I was up there talking to judges,” Dylina said. “I came out of there just smiling and grinning so wide.”
He got second in both but earned a combined $6,500, he said. It allowed him to buy more materials and make more gear.
Dylina then began to “cold email” online retailers on the East Coast to pitch his product. One retailer, OP Tactical, took a bite.
“They got back to me saying, ‘This is a good idea. We want some. How much?’”
“That was my first sale,” he said. “And I knew, OK, I think I might actually have a real product here.”
Dylina is now close to making his 500th tourniquet holder – also called a ETH, or an elastic tourniquet holder. He’s only selling the one product, but he’s prototyped a belt-mounted version of the ETH, which he plans on pushing to retailers soon, he said. He makes some custom-ordered gear, too.
Next year, Dylina wants to market his product at the Shot Show trade show in Las Vegas.
Dylina’s dad, Raymond Dylina, said he’s happy that his son is a self-starter.
“Most people his age are still goofing off,” he said. “They’re not thinking about things like this, like problem-solving and business.”
The younger Dylina isn’t sure if any of his 500 tourniquet holders has ever been used in a real-life emergency scenario, but he said if his product will save even one person’s life, he will consider it a success.
Still, he hopes one day to be the top manufacturer in his market.
“I’m still only 18,” he said, “And, right now, this is what I want to do.”
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