Life is full of maddening moments when you encounter ideas you wish you’d thought of yourself. Some are so damn obvious that it’s really frustrating to see others making millions from them!
But some people make their fortune from wacky ideas that aren’t obvious at all; On the face of it, they’re not even good ideas. Some just seem downright silly.
That’s what this article is about: Business ideas that would see entrepreneurs laughed out of Dragon’s Den. The twist is that they’ve all been enormously successful.
The Million Dollar Homepage
The Million Dollar Homepage made Wiltshire student Alex Tew over a Million Dollars in revenue back in 2005.
It was such a simple concept: Create a website and sell the pixels for advertising at a Dollar a piece.
The project gained momentum as it acquired press coverage, and in the end the final 1000 pixels sold for over $38,000 – far more than their original asking price.
Over a million bucks in five months, by doing nothing but creating a web page. Who wouldn’t wish they’d come up with that?
If you’re one of those people who hunts down the bar the moment you arrive at an event, you’ll understand the success of the Beerbelly.
Described as a “stealth drinking system” it straps to the body, allowing people to access their beverage of choice via a discreet pipe. Perhaps you’re already thinking how one could spice up your next conference or parent’s evening?!
The genius of this product is that it’s a gift that’s entertaining to give and receive, even if it’s only actually used once or twice. The range has now been expanded to include “The Wine Rack” – a sports bra that doubles as a booze dispenser.
Sarah Kaufman: The Cheese Sculptor
“What are you going to do when you grow up?”
“Make stuff out of cheese.”
It seems likely people would laugh at that, but nobody’s laughing at Sarah Kaufman. Her cheese sculpting skills have led to assignments from the likes of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and entries in the Guinness Book of Records.
Kaufman has made a full-time career out of cheese sculpting, with creations ranging from recreations of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to six foot high cheese cows! Kaufman has also appeared on TV with Martha Stuart and Snoop Dogg. Not too shabby.
I Do, Now I Don’t
I Do, Now I Don’t is a business model that does well from misfortune. But it doesn’t hide it. Instead the company makes a joke of the fact that unsuccessful marriages are a key part of the concept.
This business provides a marketplace for buying and selling unwanted high-end jewellery. It was co-founded by Josh Opperman, who was shocked by how little money he could recoup when selling his ex-fiancé’s engagement ring.
It’s actually a very clever idea. It addresses all of the pain points people struggle with when buying and selling jewellery – from achieving a fair price to confirming authenticity.
Lucky Break Wishbones
Lucky Break Wishbones sounds plain daft: Selling fake plastic wishbones so that nobody in the family has to miss out on pulling one. Who’d buy those?
Rather a lot of people, as it turns out. Sears (the American superstore) wanted to, then made their own when they didn’t agree a deal. As a result, Lucky Break Wishbones received $1.7 Million in damages.
That’s quite the payday for a niche manufacturer of tiny plastic bones. They’re still on sale to this day.
Goggles and sunglasses for dogs – that’s what Doggles makes.
It sounds ludicrous, but actually makes perfect sense. Humans squint in the sun and benefit from eye protection, so why shouldn’t dogs?
It turns out they work incredibly well. Success stories include Doogles being used by army dogs in Iraq, and the products helping animals with immune disorders. They look awfully cute too.
Finally, we have something truly silly: Potato Parcels.
What do you buy the person who has everything? How about a potato featuring a personalised message or a picture of your face?
The genius of this idea is that it’s memorable and – crucially in this day and age – endlessly “Instagrammable.” It’s fun to give gifts that are a bit “out there,” and you’re probably already thinking of who you could send one too. That’s why it works!
So Crazy, It Just Might Work…
If there’s one thing you should take from all this, it’s that just because an idea is a bit…strange, it doesn’t mean it can’t succeed. The main reason these business ideas have worked is that people actually dared to try them – and there’s certainly a valuable lesson to learn there.