Founders Create Easy-To-Use Suction Tool the Bug Bite Thing

Mother-daughter entrepreneurs and Bug Bite Thing founders, Kelley Higney and Ellen McAlister of Port St. Lucie, Florida first appeared on ‘Shark Tank’ in October and had all the sharks biting with offers. Bug Bite Thing is a chemical-free, non-toxic, and reusable product easily fits in your pocket, purse, backpack and perfect for your carry-on. The easy-to-use suction tool painlessly and effectively extracts insect saliva/venom from under the skin to eliminate itching, stinging and swelling by removing the irritant – totally unlike topical creams and ointments which only mask it. We had a chance to interview one of the founders, Kelly, and asked about their story, how they started their business and the future of Bug Bite Thing.

Tell us your story. Why did you start your business?

For as long as I can remember, I have been a “mosquito magnet.” Unfortunately, my daughter inherited my mosquito-attracting blood, and living in South Florida didn’t help. I tried everything to relieve the discomfort: creams, ice, dryer sheets, hot spoons, you name it, none of the “remedies” seemed to lessen the itch for more than a few moments.

I  investigated how other countries were combating insect bites and came across a little-known product that uses suction to eliminate the irritant rather than applying creams or harsh chemicals. I took a chance on it and surprisingly, it worked! This product was a game-changer that provided me and my daughter with instant relief while also lessening the long-term effects of the bite. I couldn’t believe I finally had a way to take the suffering away.

I knew I had to make this product readily available to anyone who suffers from bug bites.  I became a “mom on a mission.” I wanted to offer others the same relief that Bug Bite Thing had brought to my family.

How did you come up with your business name?

Funnily enough, it was as simple as me saying to my husband, “Richard, go grab me that bug bite thing,” and it kind of stuck! It is easy to remember, describes its purpose, and sparks curiosity for nearly everyone who reads or hears it – “What is a bug bite thing?”

Tell us about your products and services. How do you help clients?

Bug Bite Thing is an easy-to-use, chemical-free suction tool designed to extract insect saliva and venom from under the skin to eliminate the irritant before the body causes a reaction. This ultimately alleviates the itching, stinging, swelling and other uncomfortable symptoms that occur from bug bites and stings. By simply using suction, no medicine or ointments are necessary, so there is no mess to clean up or leftover residue. Bug Bite Thing is safe and easy to use on everyone, including children!

The device works to provide relief from a wide range of causes, including mosquitoes, bees, wasps, ants, hornets, biting flies, and more. Some users have also had success using the Bug Bite Thing to remove splinters and thorns.

Bug Bite Thing retails for less than $10 ($9.95 with free shipping) and we also offer multi-packs. We have customers who keep them in their car, house, diaper bag, golf bag, and their tackle box.

What makes you unique? What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?

Unlike topical creams and ointments, Bug Bite Thing removes the irritant from the beginning, rather than masking it. It is a natural, non-toxic and chemical-free method to ease short and long-term discomfort caused by insects, which makes it safe for children to use; even those with sensitive skin.

Bug Bite Thing is compact, lightweight and easy to carry in a purse or your carry-on luggage and you will never have a problem getting it through airport security. Bug Bite Thing does not require batteries, never expires, dries up, or runs out and is reusable.

Where do you see your business in the next 3-5 years?

We already have some very exciting projects in the works for Bug Bite Thing that we see continuing over the next three to five years. We have many new retail partners both in the U.S. and internationally. We are focusing on our global expansion and we hope to  make Bug Bite Thing a household name around the world.

Any advice you would give to entrepreneurs and business owners?

The biggest mistake I have seen fellow business owners make is trying to “do it all.” Entrepreneurs can only go so far by themselves; eventually they will hit a wall and be unable to grow their business further without any support. You can’t do it alone. My advice for entrepreneurs is to set up the proper infrastructure and learn to delegate.

What is your favorite business quote and why?

“Work on your business, not in your business.”

At Bug Bite Thing, my mother and I guide the direction of the brand and supervise the various departments. By adding talented professionals to the team who handle many of the day-to-day tasks, we are freed up to focus more on the bigger picture and expanding the business. While I am passionate about all aspects of our company, I knew I needed to let go of certain projects. Bug Bite Thing would not have grown as quickly as it did, nor would it continue to grow if we did not manage the business in this way


What have been some of your achievements that you are most proud of? Why?

We are incredibly proud of our “Shark Tank” experience. My mother and I had really developed our pitch and I think it showed. We received offers from all of the Sharks! We decided to strike a deal with Lori Greiner, who shared our vision for the company and offered us her “Golden Ticket” as an expression of her strong interest in the brand and as a promise of a hands-on partnership.

This moment affirmed what I have believed ever since launching the brand. In the beginning, I had been told multiple times that Bug Bite Thing would not succeed as a single product. People said that I needed another product or a line of products to launch the business. I truly believed in this tool and the positive response from the Sharks showed that they also saw its value. In many ways, that validation was even more significant than the financial investment.

Anything else additional you want to tell our readers?

Learn to listen. I believe this is imperative when growing a business and what has helped Bug Bite Thing get to this point. There is no match for truly listening to customers' feedback – via reviews, social media, surveys and even face-to-face conversations. No business will thrive without happy customers, so find out what they like, what they don’t, and why they made a purchase in the first place. Identifying common trends in their feedback will help you to recognize possible areas of improvement. If something isn’t working, be willing and ready to pivot your approach, plans and strategy to move forward.

Mercy - CBNation

This is a post from a CBNation writer. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue 16 Media.

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