Marco man secures patent for coaster that records how long it takes to chug down beverages

Jim Gratkowski shows one of his Slam Timer prototypes, which are set to go on sale nationwide within about six months.

Photo by QUENTIN ROUX, Staff // Buy this photo

Jim Gratkowski shows one of his Slam Timer prototypes, which are set to go on sale nationwide within about six months.

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Marco Islander Jim Gratkowski has secured a patent on his Slam Timer, a bar-top device that measures how fast one chugs a drink.

Marco Islander Jim Gratkowski has secured a patent on his Slam Timer, a bar-top device that measures how fast one chugs a drink. Watch »

Jim Gratkowski shows one of his Slam Timer prototypes, which are set to go on sale nationwide within about six months.

Photo by QUENTIN ROUX, Staff // Buy this photo

Jim Gratkowski shows one of his Slam Timer prototypes, which are set to go on sale nationwide within about six months.

Part of Gratkowski's patent shows the inventor's name and a description of the product.

Photo by QUENTIN ROUX, Staff // Buy this photo

Part of Gratkowski's patent shows the inventor's name and a description of the product.

Gimmicks have made people rich before, and it’s a gimmick that Marco Islander Jim Gratkowski thinks might just do the trick for him.

In the heady tradition of the Pet Rock, the Chia Pet and The Clapper, Gratkowski has secured a patent on his Slam Timer, a bar-top device that measures how fast one chugs a drink.

“It’s basically the size of a mouse pad,” says Gratkowski, whose proverbial light bulb popped about two years ago when a guy sat next to him at a local bar and glugged down a beer in about four seconds.

That got Gratkowski to thinking about something that could time the exact consumption of a drink, and his next step was to consult with Naples patent attorney Ed Livingston.

“He did a patent search and called back in about three weeks to say nothing like it had been patented,” Gratkowski says.

The application went through without a hitch, and the next step was a prototype, courtesy of a Naples electronic company.

Now, a year and $15,000 in expenses later, Gratkowski has received his first shipment of 1,000 Slam Timers from China.

The timer contains a digital stop watch which runs whenever a glass is lifted, and records time elapsed when it is replaced.

Gratkowski says his ultimate aim is novelty, and for that reason plans to target university towns with his timers, which will retail at around $12.99 for a pair.

Alternately, he sees a market in pubs themselves, with logos featured on his invention.

“It’s a simple idea and it’s cheap to make,” Gratkowski says. “It’s a novelty.”

At the same time, he says he’s not advocating binge drinking, but merely tapping into a pastime that partygoers enjoy anyway.

For that reason, he plans to include a “drink responsibly” disclaimer on the product.

In addition, he says, the chugging doesn’t even have to be alcohol-related, and could be any beverage, even glasses of milk at kids’ parties.

By way of some early marketing before he sets about seriously looking for investors, Gratkowski recently dropped off a couple of Slam Timers at his favorite bar in Nassau, Bahamas.

“We just had some folks come from the Bahamas, and they told a buddy how they’d seen a neat drinking game at the pub,” he says.

Gratkowski is formerly from Scranton, Penn., and has been on Marco for the past 12 years, operating a painting business carrying his name, and also working in real estate.

He is married to Kimberly, and they have an 11-year-old daughter, Adi.

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