When a grandparent passes down a signature recipe, it’s usually
a family favorite like eggplant parmesan or apple pie.
In the case of 30-year-old Terry MBA student Jay Mullis (BBA
’00, MBA ’07), the culinary masterpiece he inherited from his
grandfather is not meant for human consumption — but it’s
having a life-altering effect on Mullis’ burgeoning business
career. This sweet, moist, and doughy delight that Mullis’
grandfather used to prepare from scratch is, literally, roach bait.
Starting with his grandfather’s environmentally friendly, pet-safe
formula, Mullis tweaked the ingredients, devised a business plan,
applied for a patent, and already has more than $200,000 in orders
nationwide for his new household pesticide, Green Dragon Roach
Fortune Small Business was so impressed with Mullis’ new
product — and with the niche it can fill in today’s
marketplace — that it awarded Mullis’ product first prize in
FSB’s fifth annual business plan competition. This tasty, but
deadly, roach killer — which a distinguished panel of judges chose
over a natural food additive designed to reduce the absorption of
carbs and a low-sugar, dark-chocolate-coated treat — came
from humble origins.
“My grandfather grew up in rural [Cadwell] Georgia and he worked
with the DOT for several years,” says Mullis. “After he retired
from the state, he teamed up with one of his old classmates who had
become a pharmacist. They came up with the roach bait, but the
pharmacist wasn’t interested in using it. My grandfather was
pretty much a simple man, and he just used it to supplement his
When his grandfather passed away in 1996, Mullis inherited the
non-toxic formula; the active ingredient is boric acid, a
well-known natural remedy that kills ants, silverfish, and roaches
by dehydrating them, yet is no more harmful than table salt to
humans and pets. Mullis thought about building a business around
the product back then, but decided to wait.
“My parents said I would need to complete college and get some
experience under my belt…it turned out to be really good advice,”
says Mullis, who went to work for IBM after getting his
undergraduate degree from Terry in management information systems.
But after seven years with the industry giant, gaining expertise
with computer networking and account management, Mullis decided to
return to school in order to break through the glass ceiling.
“I thought that would be the perfect time to get my MBA,” he
says. “You could say that school empowered me with the self
awareness that I’m an entrepreneurial spirit.”
The Fortune Small Business award caps an incredible year for
Mullis Enterprises, which proved its mettle in the 2007 Moot Corp
national business plan competition. Mullis says former Terry
College professor Charles Hofer was instrumental in helping his
team develop its winning business plan.
“Dr. Hofer just kept refining — putting red ink on the
paper — until you get it to what it needs to be,” says
Hofer believed Green Dragon would succeed in the marketplace,
but Mullis’ vision has always been broader in scope.
“[Dr. Hofer his colleagues] believed this could be a great
lifestyle business,” says Mullis. “But nobody really believed it
could become a national or international business.”
Mullis sees that kind of potential in Green Dragon, and FSB’s
judging panel was certainly impressed.
“As a judge, I was so excited to see Jay win the top prize,”
says noted entrepreneur and author Verne Harnish, who is a
contributing editor to Fortune Small Business. “[Mullis is] fixing
a huge environmental problem with a green solution, and he really
had his business model/proposition nailed. [He] showed, with actual
purchase orders, why the existing distribution channels would want
to change suppliers — this is key!!!”
Mullis is wisely targeting pest-control companies; convincing
them to add Green Dragon to their product line has untold sales
advantages over trying to sell a stand-alone retail product on
hardware and drug store shelves.
“And because of the unique distribution method and packaging
that we’re looking at, we can also do more houses in one day,”
says Mullis, who created a patent-pending, straw-shaped plastic
container for distributing the bait. “So right there, if you take a
pest control company that is earning $10 million dollars, you’ve
increased their bottom line $750,000.”
The last step for Green Dragon Roach Kill is for the EPA to
grant approval. Mullis hired a consulting firm to file the
necessary paperwork and he expects to get the green light early
next year. FSB judging panelist Kylie A.D. Sachs, a partner at
Ascend Venture Group, is optimistic about Mullis’ prospects.
“Everyone hates roaches — they’re gross — and no
one wants to spray chemicals all over their house,” says Sachs.
“These are two, super-hot issues…. If he gets approval, it’s a
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