Ah, rats!

September 9, 2019

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Today, private-label products are booming and as football season starts, Caesar’s Palace is swooning, but first…

The Hustle Daily Email

NYC’s most pervasive pest has spawned a growing population of rat-preneurs 

New York City’s rat problem is worse than ever: The New York Times reports that the number of rat reports soared 38% last year, and the people of New York are more desperate to repel rats than ever.

But the rising rat-rate — and New York’s ever-evolving attempts to curb it — has also spawned an innovative industry of rat-catchers. 

Over the centuries, New York City has tried lots of traps… 

And, in the process, made plenty of rodent-wranglers rich.

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In recent years, environmental concerns have caused pest-control programs to reconsider poisoning rats… and led to an explosion of innovation in rat-tech. 

Here’s a rundown of the city’s shifting pest paradigm — and the pest-purging pioneers who have profited from it: 

  • 2013: NYC thinks rat reproduction is the problem; Senestech sells the city a $1m trial of a city-scale rodent contraception system
  • 2016: NYC decides to go straight to the source and get rid of gross garbage; the city buys $5.6m worth of Mint-X rodent-repelling trash bags
  • 2017: NYC determines dry ice is an effective way to kill rats without chemicals; Bell Laboratories grabs some of the city’s $32m revamped rat budget with a product called Rat Ice

Now, in 2019, NYC thinks drowning rats in vinegar may be best… 

And, thankfully, a company called Rat Trap Inc. offers just the type of rat bucket the city’s looking for. Called an “Ekomille,” the latest-and-greatest advancement in rat-trapping uses vinegar-filled buckets to lure rats to an acidic afterlife. 

The city unveiled the new traps — which are sold by Rat Trap Inc. for between $300 and $400 — at a press conference last Thursday. 

City officials plan to place a number of the expensive vinegar buckets across Brooklyn, and — if the pilot pest program is successful — expand the program across the city.

But pest control infest-ment isn’t limited to NYC

Across the US, pest control was an $8.97B industry in 2018 — and it grew 4.4% from the previous year.

In North Dakota, a woman named Kari Block stumbled across a novel pest control solution that involved spraying perfume on pine cones — and built it into a pest-control powerhouse that did more than $10m in annual sales a few years ago. 

It’s just like grandma used to say: One woman’s pest problem is another woman’s business model.

From rats to riches
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As states legalize sports gambling, the NFL hedges it bets 

Sports betting is now legal in 13 states, and the NFL finally seems to be ready for the snap. 

According to the American Gaming Association, 38m Americans — 15% of the adult population — will bet on NFL games this season. There’s money to be made … and not just for bettors.

The NFL is finally hopping off the bench

Until now, the NFL has been slow to embrace betting, but this season the league partnered with casino giant Caesars and data distributor Sportsradar.

And with broadcast rights deals with CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN all set to expire in 2022, expect sports betting to play a role in negotiations. 

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has speculated the value of TV broadcasts will spike 50% because people are more likely to tune in if there’s money on the line.

And The Action Network’s Darren Rovell suggested future rights fees could get a boost as next-gen broadcasters — that’s rookies like Amazon and Apple — bring built-in payment systems that could be used to further facilitate betting. 

Armchair QBs won’t notice much change 

NBC telecasts might mention sports betting references, and Fox has vowed to mention betting on-air only if the announcers can work it in “organically.” ESPN and CBS are staying out of the fray.

Meanwhile, the NFL has said it would cap the number of gambling ads that run during broadcasts — which is good, because it leaves room for those Cialis spots that everyone really wants.

Time for kickoff
Keepin’ tabs on trends just got easier

In case you haven’t heard, every Tuesday we send an exclusive email to our Trends subscribers with new reports on market opportunities, along with actionable takeaways.

We’ve added a new feature to our weekly Trends update called Signals, which offers quick snapshots of potential trends before they happen.

Here’s 3 from this week:


High-protein cereals are making a comeback. The average monthly search numbers for “keto cereal” total 8k and are up nearly 100% from early this year and multiples higher than summer 2017.


Node makes sustainable modular homes. The company is growing in popularity because its prefab homes are made with non-toxic materials and have energy-efficient systems. Backlinks to their website have skyrocketed this summer.


L-theanine is a compound found naturally in certain teas. It’s a relaxant and supposed to help people fight anxiety and stress. Searches for L-theanine total about 65k monthly and have steadily increased over the last several years.

Start for a buck

We’re alive during a store-brand renaissance, and name brands are feeling the pinch

Private Label is how the consumer-product industry refers to goods that retailers produce themselves through 3rd-party manufacturers. 

But these products are anything but signature. Often the store brand is a rip-off of other proven products — and there ain’t nothing those name brands can do about it.  

This is nothing new…

And it isn’t illegal — as a matter of fact, companies like CVS and other big retailers have been working with “private-label” companies to develop their store-brand face creams, toothpastes, and cotton swabs for decades.

For example: CVS-brand face wash was modeled almost identically after the face-cleansing product Cetaphil, much to its manufacturer’s chagrin.

Amazon has become the king of private label during its thunderous rise to the top. In the beginning it was baby wipes and phone chargers. Now, it has expanded to clothing, toys and high-end furniture (and Williams-Sonoma isn’t happy about it).

The rise of the ‘agnostic shopper’

As consumers gain more access behind the curtain, the idea of brand loyalty has taken a back seat to the cheaper alternative, and private labels are booming because of it.

According to Nielsen Insights, private-label sales have increased $7.9B across brick-and-mortar stores in the past 3 years. 

It’s a win-win for both retailers and consumers

According to the market-research firm IRI, private-label products are often 20% cheaper on average than brand-name products, but they’re also much cheaper for retailers to buy, making way for higher profit margins.

The issue for companies like Cetaphil’s maker, Galderma, is that their sales are tied to being on the shelves of CVS. If they pulled the product from stores due to conflict of interest, there wouldn’t be any interests to conflict over.

When the land of opportunity bites back

Small business of the week: The 21-year-old kids who created an egg-white chip brand

Every Monday, we feature a company started by one of our readers. Want your story told next? Fill out our Small Business Survey.

On a summer day in 2016, two recent high school grads, Nick Hamburger and Zack Schreier, were sitting around cooking omelettes.

For Schreier, a Type 1 diabetic, egg whites were a favorite snack — particularly, the crispy burnt edges. In the kitchen, the friends asked a question: “Is it possible to make a healthy chip out of egg whites?

“Zack had to account for every gram of carbohydrate that he ate,” says Hamburger. “He couldn’t even enjoy a bag of chips without having to give himself an insulin shot.”

The duo spent the next 2 years testing out hundreds of ingredients and different cooking processes before striking culinary gold.

In 2018, they dropped out of college and launched Quevos, the first egg-white-based chip. The snack was so good that it earned them a $50k investment from Kraft Heinz, $72k in pre-orders on Kickstarter, and, more recently, a $925k angel round.

They’re currently in more than 250 retail stores, and they’re using their funds to ramp up manufacturing capacity and “fine tune” their chips.

Stats at a glance:

  • Founders: Nick Hamburger and Zack Schreier (21)
  • Employees: 8
  • Years in business: 2
  • Cost to launch: $150k
  • Funding methods: Kickstarter, VC, loans, personal savings
  • Current annual revenue: $400k
  • Projected revenue (2020): $3m

The Peloton of learning is here 

These days, getting a great job is all about having great skills. 

Companies want to know if you can deliver, adapt, and grow. And with roles and responsibilities changing faster than a runaway train, digital skills training is one of the only ways to keep up. 

But let’s be real for a minute – will you actually finish that online course you started months ago? 

That’s where BrainStation comes in

BrainStation recently launched Online Live, a virtual instructor-led learning platform that gives you access to certificate courses in data, design, development, marketing and more – everything and anything you’d need to get the kind of job you’ve always wanted. 

Online Live has already delivered more than 100,000 hours of digital skills training to thousands of professionals across 50 cities and 27 states, provinces, and territories across North America.

If you’re ready to level up at work, enroll before September 23rd and you’ll save up to $1,500 on an Online Live certificate course.

Get skilled
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