The "aha" moment: When Karen Wildman's son dropped his Game Boy in a pond one day in 2002, Wildman, who suffers from hearing loss, tried out a method she used to dry her hearing aid: She placed the Game Boy in a bag of clay beads, which pulled the moisture from the device, bringing it back to life. Wildman realized the technique could rescue all kinds of waterlogged gadgets.
R&D: Wildman and her sister, Lisa Holmes, purchased heat-sealing equipment and started making prototypes. The result? A sealable Mylar bag containing a perforated pouch of clay beads that can dry out a sweaty MP3 player in a few hours and a soaked cell phone in a couple of days. They named the bag Bheestie, a Hindi word for "people who draw water."
Hitting the market: Since 2008, Bheestie, based in Portland, Oregon, has sold 10,000 bags for $20 each at the sporting-goods chain REI, a few small retailers, and online. Now, it is targeting larger chains like Target.
Does your company sell a new product with an interesting backstory? Head to www.inc.com/thegoods and tell us about it. We feature the best ideas in the magazine every month.