Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Flytrap Business Catches More than Flies

One approach to small-business success is to find an under-the-radar niche. Matt Miller’s is an example.

Starting when he was seven, Matt’s parents took him every year to the Missouri Botanic Garden, where his favorite plants were the carnivores: pitcher plants and especially Venus flytraps. When his family got to the garden’s bookstore, Matt would each year, get a more advanced book on flytraps.

At college and in graduate school (he has a masters in math,) and in his job afterward at Raytheon, flytraps had left his life. But on a visit to Wal-Mart, he happened upon a display of flytraps and bought three.

To try to learn more about flytraps, he searched the Internet but found surprisingly little. So using his books, articles, growing experience, and mathematical mind, Matt started to write about them on a website whose URL was available: He wanted as many people as possible to benefit from his work so he learned search-engine optimization. Today, has become the most-visited flytrap site on the Internet.

To make money, Matt sold flytraps on his site. He first got his inventory from other dealers but soon realized he could get flytraps far less expensively if he learned how to clone them using tissue culture. He found and after a few hundred bucks of supplies, two $600 greenhouses, and some trials and errors, he was making clones of the most desired varieties, for example, the large-trapped B52 and a hybrid he developed himself: Maroon Monster.

Indeed, part of the fun for Matt is developing new varieties by crossing the best existing ones. Because customers love size, he’s even thinking of trying to get progeny by crossing large flytraps with a much larger related species: Drosera Regia Big Easy.

Matt plans to keep growing because of the pleasure, the many thank-yous from satisfied customers and posters to his site’s forum, and yes, the money. He’s making a solid middle class living doing what he loves, working from home.

His advice to prospective small business owners: Develop a focus and stay with it.  Perhaps there really is nothing new under the sun---other than a flytrap business.

1 comment:

WORMSS said...

Nice to see your getting around Matt.


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