Everyone has million-dollar ideas, but people rarely act on them.
For entrepreneurs, one good idea can provide an extraordinary amount of hope. Even though the chances of success are minimal, these ideas give people something to aspire to greater than a boring cubicle and a nagging boss. Not to mention, these ideas make some people obscenely loaded.
If you’re waiting to act on one of these ideas until you think of something brilliant, don’t. In fact, you might want to dumb yourself down a notch.
With the Icanhascheezburger.’s of the world getting acquired for $2MM, it doesn’t take something uniquely awesome to rake in the dough.
Ridiculously Rich Person Behind It: Gary Dahl
Estimated Profit: $15M in just the first six months
The idea of selling a rock is about as ridiculous as it gets. But one man figured out how to sell them and make millions in just a few short months.
Dahl, a former advertising executive, sold his rocks for $3.95 on a bed of hay. Each sale earned him a profit of roughly $3.
He sold the rocks as 'hassle-free' pets, complete with a pet training manual and a card board box fashioned after a pet carrier. The rocks were an instant hit and turned into one of the greatest fads of all time.
Ridiculously Rich Person Behind It: Ken Hakuta
Estimated Profit: $80MM
Ken Hakuta should give his mum an extra big hug and kiss for giving him his million-dollar idea. She sent him the nation's first known Wacky Wall Walker as a gift from China. Fascinated by the gewy toy that appears to walk down the walls it's thrown against, Hakuta bought the rights for $100,000 and began marketing it in the D.C. area.
Sales crawled along until a reporter for The Washington Post stumbled upon his product and wrote about it. The buzz from the article began one of the greatest marketing fads of all time. Within just a few months, more than 240 million were sold, netting Ken about $80 million.
Ridiculously Rich Person Behind It: Richard James
Estimated Profit: $250MM
Naval engineer Richard James' flash of brilliance was spawned by clumsiness. He dropped a tension spring he was working with and watched it slink away across the floor. And thus the Slinky was born.
In 1945, James debuted the toy at a Gimbals in Philadelphia. He was so nervous about the presentation that he convinced a friend to come and stage the first Slinky sale. His nerves were completely unwarranted because the first 400 sold out within 90 minutes. A quarter of a billion in sales later, the $1 toy and its creator lived very comfortably ever after. Well, sort of.
There were some rough patches in there-- like when Richard had a mid-life crisis, left his wife, Betty, and joined a cult. But Betty chugged along with the company, saved it from debts ensued by her crazy husband, and sold the product to Poof Toys in 1998. But, it's safe to say she made out alright.
Ridiculously Rich Person Behind It: H Ty Warner
Estimated Profit: $3-6 Billion
Fill a sack with beans, give it furry ears, and name it something cute like Patti the Platypus or Splash the Whale. The result? A toy empire bigger than Hasbro and Mattel combined--Beanie Babies. While many initially scoffed at Ty's under-stuffed animals and referred to them as 'roadkill,' the haters were quickly hushed when 30,000 were sold at the first toy show in Atlanta.
The way Ty Warner built his empire is remarkable. He never advertised his products or sold them in major chain stores, like Toys-R-Us. This made the toys harder to obtain and thus more desirable. In addition, Ty would retire certain models after the initial stock-run had sold out, making the few that existed prized possessions.
At the peak of the Beanie Baby craze, Ty reportedly raked in $700 million in one year. Call it a scam, but Ty's line of collectibles created the most insane fad frenzy of all time, and he now sits on billions.
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