5 Crazy Simple Business Ideas That Actually Worked And Hit It Big
1. The Slinky
($250 million worth)
Everyone should be familiar with the slinky toy and how it can keep even grown-ups entertained for hours. Till this day nobody can explain the magic of shoving a spring’s weight from one side to the other, or how it became a multi-million dollar product in the first place. Thanks to the clumsiness of a naval engineer the world has been living with this phenomenon for more than 50 years. While working, Richard James just happened to drop a tension spring that literally kept walking away from him. Hence, the slinky was born and in 1945 it was presented for the first time to Gimbals. Within the first 2 hours after it landed in stores 400 units were sold. Despite the fact that James went off the wagon after making millions the slinky has an estimated worth of $250 million.
2. The Pet Rock
(brought $15 million in first 6 months)
If I were to make you an offer to buy an ordinary rock for $3.65, you would think I’m crazy right? Gary Dahl didn’t think it was such a crazy idea and he managed to sell $15 million worth of rocks within just 6 months. This begs the question, how can he possibly accomplish such a feat? He gave something as simple as a rock a great deal of personality by placing it on a straw bed and putting it in a cardboard box that resembles a pet carrier case. He gave it the name of Pet Rock. Dahl also included a small manual on how to take care of the pet while marketing it as a pet that will never give you any problems. He only paid for the packaging and manual, which came to about 65 cents per unit. This left him with a rough profit of $3.
($2 million in sales in 2007)
Technology has also opened the doors for crazy business ideas that led to frenzies. One website, in particular, created by Eric Nakagawa and Kari Unebasami (also respectfully known as Cheezburger and Tofu Burger), made it into the history books. All they did was take a picture of a cute fat cat and added a caption on top stating “I can has cheezburger?” According to their own account of the situation, they laughed for more than an hour. The domain name was the same as the caption that they used and the first picture was followed by a series of other pictures where the cat actually gets hold of that burger. Who would’ve guessed that this website would spark a traffic count of 35 million hits a month and 8000 daily submissions? But what you really want to know is how much they made through this site right? They sold in 2007 for $2 million. If you need to have a dose of fun, you can check the site out here: Icanhascheezburger.com.
4. Beanie Babies
(a franchise worth around $3 billion)
Last but not least we have Ty Warner and his Beanie Babies franchise. All he did was take some beans, stuffed them into fluffy animals and gave each a cute little name. Obviously, he didn’t receive the support he anticipated. In fact, many people referred to his creations as road kill. Warner wasn’t discouraged and continued his venture. The first showcase of the Beanie Babies in Atlanta generated sales of 30 000 units. But Warner had more tactics up his sleeve. Instead of making it available in major chain stores he kept them exclusive, which boosted the value of course. He didn’t spend one dime on advertising and if one particular Beanie Baby went out of stock it didn’t go back into production, resulting in collector’s items. The best year Warner had in terms of sales was about $700 million and this was at the height of the frenzy. The ultimate worth of the Beanie Babies franchise is more than $3 billion.
5. iFart App
($400k worth app)
Joel Comm decided that the whoopie cushion needed a serious makeover so he designed an app that did exactly that. But instead of just giving the app one specific sound he implemented no less than 26 different fart sounds and added names like “Sneak Attack”. His initial intention was to sell the app and make money while everybody else thought it was more dumb than crazy. Nevertheless, it was a combination that worked because of the last estimation of what this iPhone application is worth reached the $400 000 mark. Given that he is only selling it for 99 cents a pop you can imagine how many pranksters went bonkers for it. Whether you love or hate the idea, it’s given Joel Comm a very strong bank account.
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