Stupid, crazy, weird business ideas, no matter what you choose to call them, they just have this “out of the box” screaming all over them. This is of course when they find huge commercial success.
They ride on gut feeling fads of the times in ways that are not expected as they rake in millions. Here are just about 32 mostly American stories that remind us that profits and riches are lying around in some of the weird thoughts that come to mind.
1) The iFart app
Invented by Joel Comm – iFart Mobile is an application for the Apple iOS. When launched, the screen displays a red button that releases one of a selection of flatulence sounds, when operated. It basically turns your phone into a Whoopee Cushion. It was downloaded 113,885 times in the first two weeks it was available.
2) The Clapper
Clap your hands and a light goes on and off? It is a sound activated electrical switch and yes millions of people have purchased them. The Clapper was issued US Patent 5493618 which was published on February 20, 1996. It was invented by Carlile R. Stevens and Dale E. Reamer.
3) The Fake Foot
Realistic life-sized lower leg with flesh colored fake foot. You may have seen one hanging from the trunk of a car or placed under a bed for an instant reaction. Has many uses and you can bet people pay for this – about $10.
4) Pillows in the Oven
Kim Lavine, founder of Wuvit® somehow had the idea of putting corn in a cotton bag and put the bag in the microwave. Producing this unique soft, soothing pillow. She thought the pillows would make a nice gift for her children however it also went ahead to make her more than 2million USD in less than 3 years.
5) Ashley Madison
Ashley Madison is a social media website/app that has made millions of dollars from helping people cheat on their partners. Only married people or those who want to date married people can sign up on the site and hook up. As of 2014, the website reported a revenue of $115 million. It suffered a big scandalous hit in 2015 when a cyberattack exposed data of 32 million users.
6) Santa Mail
Some brilliant entrepreneurs decided to up the Christmas spice for kids. They set up a Santa Mail services were for around ten bucks, they would reply mails posing as the man in red himself. This gets patronage from hundreds of thousands of parents and kids each year.
7) Mood Rings
Do you want a confirmation about what mood someone is in? Look out for the mood rings. It is a ring that contains a thermochromic element, such as liquid crystal, that changes colors based upon the temperature of the finger of the wearer. It was a huge and very popular fad in the 70s.
8) Positive Attraction
Paul Graves and Brandon Koechlin started positivesdating.com in 2005. The website offers anonymous matching services, catering only to HIV-positive members. It is reported that within a few years of launching, PositivesDating was able to attract over 50,000 members.
9) Chia Pet
Now this one is quite simply a brilliant idea. The Chia Pet are American stylized figurines – your “furry” friend that grows plants instead of hair. Still in sales today, the Chia Pet was introduced in the 70s and was an instant hit. It comes in a variety of structures including human heads and animals.
10) Slap Bracelets
Invented by Stuart Andrews. The slap bracelet was a popular fad among children, pre-teens, and teenagers in the late 1980s, and was available in a wide variety of patterns and colors. Andrews hit the jackpot with this idea. In 1990 alone, the bracelets were reported to be profiting over 6 million USD.lion.
11) Big Mouth Billy Bass
Conceived by Gemmy Industries. It is also one of the very popular examples of wildly successful fads. Invented in 1998, Big Mouth Billy Bass is an animatronic singing prop, representing a largemouth bass. The singing mechanism was originally activated by a motion sensor and intended to startle a passerby. Clearly nothing but a gag, it earned the company millions of dollars.
12) The Pet Rock
Invented by Gary Dahl. This is one of the most popular examples of crazy ideas that went viral. They came with a hay bed, a pet carrier, and a manual on how to deal with this “hassle-free” housemate. This adorable stony companion profited about 15 million USD in the first six months it was on the market (Now this was in the 70s).
13) The Snuggie
Invented by Scott Boilen. The Snuggie was sold in ridiculous infomercials, featuring families wearing the Snuggie while roasting marshmallows and attending sporting events. According to Boilen, the Snuggie is somewhat ridiculous, why not advertise it in a humorous way? This seems to have worked out pretty well as the Snuggie has profited over $200 million USD.
14) Yellow Smiley Faces
15) The Wacky Wall Walker
The Wacky WallWalker sometimes noted as WWW was a hugely popular American toy in the early 1980s. Promoted by Ken Hakuta, his mom actually sent him a version of the WWW as a gift from Japan. Noting its potential, he set about buying the rights to it and went on to net about $80 million dollars from its sales.
16) The Slinky
Slinky is a toy, a precompressed helical spring invented by Richard James in the early 1940s. It can perform a number of tricks. When he debuted the toy in 1945, he sold 400 Slinkys 90 minutes. To date, the Slinky has earned James about $250 million dollars.
17) Hula Hoop
A hula hoop is a toy hoop that is twirled around the waist, limbs or neck. The modern hula hoop was invented in 1958 by Arthur K. “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr. At the peak of the fad in America, in the fifties, more than 50,000 hula hoops were being manufactured every day.
18) The Million-Dollar Home Page
Alex Tew was a 21-year-old Brit who created a home page in 2005 and sold one million pixels for one dollar each. He included a background story – he was selling pixels to pay his way through college. It worked, and it earned him a million dollars in just over a year.
Created by Japanese toymaker Bandai. The Tamagotchi is a handheld digital pet. This pet simulation device prompted a huge craze back in the 90s. As of 2010, over 76 million Tamagotchis have been sold world-wide – at one time, they were selling one Tamagotchi every second.
20) Beanie Babies
Beanie Babies are a line of stuffed animals, made by Ty Warner Inc. They were once the kingpins of a toy empire larger than any other. They were cute, collectible, and some of them came with whopping price tags. They were made even more desirable by “retiring” certain models and by making them only available at certain stores, earning the company billions of dollars in revenue.
Invented by a company with the same name. Because apparently, dogs need goggles. Selling for about $80 a pair, they have earned the company millions.
22) Magic 8 Ball
Invented by Albert Carter and Abe Brookman, it is a toy used for fortune-telling or seeking advice, developed in the 1950s. The balls were inspired by Carter’s mother, who fancied herself clairvoyant. Originally, the design looked like a tube with liquid inside, but it has been redeveloped into the ball we know today with millions of dollars in sales.
23) The Koosh Ball
Invented by Scott Stillinger. Patented in 1988, the ball consists of about 2,000 natural rubber filaments and has been released in a variety of color combinations. It was one of the hottest toys in the market raking in millions of dollars in revenue. As of 2017, Koosh balls are manufactured by Hasbro
24) The Flowbee
The Flowbee is an electrically powered vacuum cleaner attachment made for cutting hair. Invented and patented by Rick Hunts in 1987, it allows the user to cut their curls with minimal mess. From the early nineties to the year 2000, over two million units have been sold.
A Furby is an American electronic robotic toy released in 1998 by Tiger Electronics. Created by Dave Hampton and Caleb Chung. Over 40 million Furbies were sold during the three years of its original production, with 1.8 million sold in 1998, and 14 million in 1999. Sales of the toy are still incredibly high today.
26) Billy-Bob Teeth
Now, this ranks high up there as one hell of a weird business idea. In 1993 Jonah White, watched dental student Rich Bailey try to pick up girls while wearing ugly false teeth. The pair eventually teamed up and created the Billy-Bob Teeth business going ahead to generate over 40 million dollars in sales.
27) Plastic Wishbone
Invented by Ken Ahroni. It is a life-sized wishbone made out of plastic that’s meant to be broken in two. It replicates that oh-so-rare American Thanksgiving turkey wishbone. Incredibly, Ahroni was able to sell each of them for $3.99, netting him millions of dollars in the process.
28) Pillow Pets
Invented by Jennifer Telfer in 2003, she explained that her son once had a stuffed animal that became so flattened he used it as a pillow. This inspired Pillow Pet, which was basically a stuffed animal that could fold and transform into a pillow. It was a huge commercial success.
Developed by Iris Shamus. One out of every 13 children have food allergies, and Iris Shamus’ son is one of them. He’s allergic to peanuts. Shamus wanted to make sure that his teachers and caretakers always remembered his serious allergy. That’s what inspired her to come up with AllerMates and it has been a huge commercial success.
30) Silly Putty
Silly Putty is a toy based on silicone polymers that have unusual physical properties. It’s unclear who invented Silly Putty, however, Peter Hodgson was probably the first person to make huge marketing success with it in the 50s. By the time Hodgson died in 1976, Silly Putty was bringing in over $5 million a year.
31) Laser Monks
The idea for LaserMonks.com came to Father McCoy one day when his printer ran out of ink. He shopped around for a new ink cartridge but couldn’t find one that was reasonably priced. In the beginning, LaserMonks.com consisted of a few monks sitting around with black powder and empty plastic cartridges, filling a few orders a day. However, it has since grown into a lucrative business. Sales have risen from $2,000 in 2002, the company’s first full year of operation, to around $2.5 million in 2005.
32) Dog Poop Services
Yes, this is also one of those weird business ideas that are in fact brilliant and have created million dollar industries with many successful entrepreneurs. With friendly, professional pet waste technicians as some style themselves, they pick up where your pet left off, scooping and disposing of the poop so you don’t have to.
As long as there is a market for something and you sell it right, there’s no such thing as a stupid idea. This doesn’t just apply to tangible items and products, it applies to everything from services, to websites, etc. and can find success anywhere in the world.