Sometimes inspiration is just the start of something big, and all it needs is the right encouragement and support. Just ask Dan and Louise Hodges. The Hodges family moved to Beaufort from Charlotte in 2007, with their two daughters, Hunter and Ellen. They formerly owned a landscape design/construction business and relocated to the coast to cater to the second homeowner market. But their timing couldn’t have been worse. It was the beginning of the economic crisis, and their business began to suffer.
They started brainstorming new business ideas while learning to adapt to the coastal environment. Given their background in landscaping, they couldn’t help but notice the relative absence of outdoor living spaces as compared to their home in Charlotte.
“People don’t utilize their backyards as much here, and I don’t think it’s because of the heat,” says Louise. “It’s because of the bugs.”
And right there, that was the moment of inspiration.
The Hodges wanted to find an all-natural, safe solution to combat outside and inside pests. Thorough research zeroed in on cedar, which is deadly to pests yet harmless to humans, animals and the environment. They hired a chemical engineer and created a proprietary formula, which is University tested and proven 100% effective in killing pests. They called their new venture Greenbug.
Louise came up with the name and trademarked the eco-friendly products for people and pets, indoors and outdoors.
The moment on inspiration had yielded a business, but the Hodges knew the Lowcountry wasn’t just home to bugs; it was home to one of the finest business incubation tools around.
Last year, the Don Ryan Center for Innovation, a collaboration between the Town of Bluffton and the Clemson University Institute for Economic and Community Development, accepted Louise and Dan Hodges as new innovators. The Don Ryan Center links innovators to intellectual property, technology evaluation, product development services, seed financing, business mentorship, corporate relationships and recruiting. The center’s philosophy is simple: the better the idea, the faster you need to get it to market.
While working with the Don Ryan Center, Dan and Louise pitched their revolutionary invention to its Board of Directors, an injector system that integrates their formula with existing irrigation systems.
They have a provisional patent on the Greenbug Injector System that distributes the Greenbug formula everywhere water is directed, creating an inhospitable environment for pests to breed. The formula is EPA-exempt and does not require a professional license to apply. It’s also harmless to beneficial creatures such as butterflies, honeybees, and ladybugs.
The result? Pest-free landscaped areas and happy outdoor enthusiasts.
Both Louise and Dan are working with landscape professionals to install and service the injector systems, giving the landscape companies opportunity to sell the all-natural product and create revenue for their businesses.
They already have landscape partners from Savannah to Charleston, and more landscaping companies are signing up. With the help of the Don Ryan Center for Innovation, the Hodges hope to sell their patent-pending Greenbug Injector Systems internationally.
“Working with the Don Ryan Center has been amazing. They have opened doors we couldn’t have opened, provided legal and financial advice and given us the jumpstart we needed to grow our company.”
Started in January of 2012, Greenbug now has more than 14,000 customers including homeowners, professional pest control operators, property managers and landscape professionals, is sold in more than 130 retail locations and has a growing online presence.
And it all started with that one moment of inspiration.