What: Rodent-resistant trash bags
Who: Joseph A. Dee of Mint-X Corp.
Where: College Point, New York
When: Started in 2005
Startup costs: $100,000
Joseph A. Dee already co-owned JAD Corp., a plastic bag manufacturer, when he got the idea for trash bags that keep rats out of New York City's garbage. One of JAD's biggest customers had called about a picture in the newspaper. The photo depicted children playing on a sidewalk with garbage bags stacked in the background and rats crawling on the bags.
"[The client] said, 'Can't you make a bag that will kill rats?'" says Dee. "And my [thought] was, 'You can't make a bag that will kill rats because it could harm pets or children. You need to find out what rats don't like.'"
Dee decided to look into the idea further. After extensive research into what would and would not work, he learned that mint plants were grown in 19th century gardens to keep the rodents away. So in 2005, with the help of his three sons, Dee officially launched Mint-X, a manufacturer of mint-scented trash bags. The Mint-X bags are priced the same as JAD's regular trash bags, so existing customers, like city parks and commercial office buildings, have been switching over at no extra cost while the company gains a number of new buyers. Mint-X recently released a consumer 30-pack to stores and projects sales of more than $3 million this year.