Have you ever wondered who invented the shoelace? Or what about the person who invented the car club, the lojack or some of the other more complicated inventions. We know those did well but were fairly challenging to engineer. Now how about the person you never heard of who came up with a seemingly simple idea and retired off of it? Well we found 7 of the silliest and simple ideas that made a ton of money.
I happened to be reading business insider today and they listed a bunch of good ones.
1. Pet Rock
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.
This happened…for millenials who may not remember this. Crazy huh?
2. Yellow Smiley Faces
Ridiculously Rich People Behind It:Bernard and Murray Spain
Estimated Profit: $500MM
You order takeout and the deliveryman leaves you with a white plastic bag. On the exterior is a goofy yellow smiley face grinning back at you, encouraging you to “Have A Nice Day!” You take your food and plop in front of the television to find the same stupid smiley rolling down the isles of a Wal-mart ad, bringing customers shopping cheer as they peruse the super store.
Now imagine your father is the one who first drew this world-renown image. Imagine further how upset you would be if your father never trademarked his image, and only made a measly $45 from the icon. This is the story of Charlie Ball’s life.
Back in 1963 his father, Harvey, first drew the happy face for his PR company’s client, State Mutual Life Insurance. The only money the Ball’s ever made from the simple sketch was the two-figure dollar amount they made selling it to the client.
So who did make all that money off the brilliantly simple symbol? Two brothers, Bernard and Murray Spain, stumbled upon the unrealized potential of the smiley. Wanting to start a novelty store, Bernard and Murray bought the legal rights to the mark along with the now infamous tag-line,“Have a nice day.” The brothers began slapping the image on everything possible. The yellow smiley swept the nation and soon, the world. The fad peaked in 1971 and diminished after a year and a half, but that was enough time to do a lot of damage—50 million in sales worth of damage.
The Spain’s opened the first Dollar Express in the ‘80s where they continued to sell the smiley. In 2000, they sold their chain to Dollar Tree for $500 million.
And what of Harvey Ball? He became a yellow smiley-based philanthropist. What else would you do if you let a gazillionaire-dollar idea slip through your fingers?
3. Wacky Wall Walker
Ridiculously Rich Person Behind It:Ken Hakuta
Estimated Profit: $80MM
This next one is the funny cat and picture site:
Ridiculously Wealthy People Behind It: Eric Nakagawa (aka Cheezburger) and Kari Unebasami (aka Tofu burger)
Estimated Profit: $2MM
Ridiculously Rich Person Behind It:Richard James
Estimated Profit: $250MM
Ridiculously Rich Person Behind It:Scott Boilen, President of Allstar Products
Estimated Profit: $200MM
7.Million-Dollar Home Page
Ridiculously Rich Person Behind The Idea: Alex Tew
Estimated Profit: $1MM
This story has been beat to a pulp, but it’s so ridiculous it’s worth noting. A 21-year-old British kid created a home page and sold 1MM pixels each for $1. Furthermore, he had a sob story to warm the public’s heart: trying to pay his way through college.
Good luck and sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ones!
If you pay attention to the details on some, it is as much marketing as the product itself.
Next time you have an invention idea, if one person says it’s stupid, maybe you should ask one more person too 😉
Check out the entire list & full article over at: Business Insider