Unusual Businesses Ideas That Work:

While remodeling a friend’s home office, Pierre Klee had to choose flooring that was both attractive and practical.

Klee found his solution in a wood-finished laminate. After installing the floor, Klee gave his friend and future partner, Jeff Baudin, an extra pack of the material. Baudin took a piece of the laminate to his regular office and slid it under his chair on the commercial-grade carpeting. Instantly, the two knew they had a great idea.

In January 2004, they started developing an alternative to the unattractive plastic chair mats common in offices. More than $150,000 and six prototypes later, they launched SnapMat Inc. in June 2004. The sectional chair mats snap together and create a more polished complement to office furniture.

Klee says the mat also has some unconventional uses, including in music studios–the mats make it easier to slide heavy equipment over carpet–and as dance floors. Klee jokes that the company could have a special web-site dedicated solely to tap dancers.

Photo by SnapMats.

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