Have you ever wished you made an invention that could change the world? Maybe you’ve thought of a unique invention idea only to find out that someone else has already made it and is now earning millions?
Even the smallest idea can serve as a ray of hope for any aspiring entrepreneur. While success isn’t always guaranteed, coming up with new ideas gives us hope that we can break free from our nagging boss and stuffy office cubicle. And if you’re lucky, that product design idea running through your head right now might even make you a multi-millionaire.
But, did you know that your idea doesn’t have to be too technical or even sensible for it to become a hit? In fact, there are a lot of million-dollar ideas that are ridiculous — some even downright weird — that have become extremely successful.
If you aren’t convinced, look at the following ridiculous and out-of-this-world ideas that made their inventors and investors filthy rich.
18 Random Inventions that Made Millions
1. Lucky Break Wishbones
If you weren’t lucky when it came to the yearly fight for the one and only turkey wishbone, then the Lucky Break Wishbone is perfect for you. Ken Ahroni is the man behind this product. He came up with the thought when, during a Thanksgiving dinner with his family in 1999, he saw how several people wanted to have their own wishbone.
In 2004, he then decided to close his consulting business to launch the Lucky Break Wishbone Corp. and officially start selling his unique breakable plastic wishbones. In just a matter of two years, the company was able to generate almost one million in sales through its distributors in over 40 states all over the nation.
2. Yellow Smiley Faces
With an estimated profit of $500M, the Yellow Smiley Face is the creation of Murray and Bernard Spain. They wanted to open their own novelty store, so they decided to buy the exclusive rights to those yellow smiley faces that you see almost everywhere today. They even purchased the Have a Nice Day tagline to come with it. They put these words and images on everything, which paved the way to a $50 million dollar net worth in the first year and a half.
3. Slap Bracelets
You probably loved these when you were still a kid. In fact, many children had five or more of these, some even slapping all of them on at the same time. Slap bracelets are the creation of Stuart Andrews, which helped him hit the jackpot. Before his invention, Andrews was just a simple and ordinary high school shop teacher. The bracelets made him between six to eight million in 1990 alone.
4. Million-Dollar Home Page
The story behind the Million-Dollar Home Page is so out of this world that you might not even believe it. It’s the creation of Alex Tew, a British 21-year old. He made a homepage where he sold 1MM pixels for $1 each. To accompany his creation, he even reached out to the heart of the public with his goal of using the homepage to pay for his college studies. Tew’s charity case got the attention of advertisers, and in just a little over a year, the site was able to sell out all of its pixels.
5. The Snuggie
The real reason behind the success of the Snuggie was its advertising campaign. The Snuggie, an invention of Scott Boilen from Allstar Products, was advertised in ridiculous infomercials that featured families who wore the Snuggie as they roasted marshmallows and attended sports events. Boilen said that he took this kind of approach because the product was already ridiculous and advertising it in an equally ridiculous way made perfect sense. This approach worked, earning more than $200 million.
6. Santa Mail
Every single year, millions and millions of kids all over the world wrote letters to Santa, hoping that he would send them back a response. Byron Reese saw the potential in this market. This is why he decided to launch Santa Mail in 2002.
This service lets kids send their letters to the North Pole. Their parents then included a small fee of only $9.95, and in exchange, their kids received a personalized letter straight from Santa Claus himself. In 2009, Santa Mail was able to send responses to around 300,000 kids. Do the math! With every letter making $10, you can calculate how much Reese was able to earn from this service.
7. Wacky Wall Walker
Ken Hakuta’s mother deserves to be named as the person behind his success because after all, she was the one who sent Hakuta the first ever Wacky Wall Walker as a gift from China. With his fascination for the toy, which seems to walk down any wall that it’s thrown at, Hakuta decided to purchase the rights to it at $100,000 and started to market it in D.C.
The product’s sales were not originally great until a Washington Post’s reporter saw the item and wrote an article about it. The article generated buzz about the product and helped it become one of the best marketing fads of all time. In just a matter of months, over 240 million were sold, and Hakuta earned around $80 million.
The 90s was made more exciting by the Tamagotchi, a pet simulation device that kids and adults alike fell in love with. After all, this creation by the Japanese toy-maker Bandai was a great alternative to owning and looking after a real pet. Over 70 million Tamagotchis were sold — at its peak, one Tamagotchi was being sold every second.
9. Pet Rock
Gary Dahl is the person behind this creation. The estimated profit is $15 million in just six months. The concept of selling a rock may be ridiculous. However, Gary Dahl figured out how to sell them and made millions in just several months.
He became a millionaire by selling rocks for only $3.95 on a bed of hay. Every sale earned him about three dollars. Dahl sold rocks as hassle-free pets, which came with a cardboard box and pet training manual. These rocks became an instant hit and are one of the most successful fads of all time.
10. iFart App
This app was invented by Joel Comm — he was channeling his inner middle school boy when he created iFart. This app basically makes your phone into a Whoopee Cushion. It’s available at $0.99 on iTunes and was downloaded many times during its first two weeks on the market. As of now, Comm along with his own company has earned somewhere near $400K.
11. Antenna Balls
You or your parents probably had one of these on your car at some point. These yellow, ubiquitous smiley-faced balls are perched atop antennas in parking lots, which made Jason Wall a rich man. These antenna balls were inspired by a commercial for Jack in the Box, a fast food chain in 1997.
Wall made some designs of antenna balls and started selling them locally through car stores in California in 1998. In a year, he earned more than one million in sales and won some major accounts to sell his own product through national chains like Walmart. In 2009, Wall became the CEO and president of In-Concept Inc.
This hair-clipping device was designed and developed by Rich Hunts. It attaches to a vacuum cleaner, which enabled the user to cut their hair with less mess. Hunts took Flowbee onto a late-night TV show, and since then, his product has sold over two million units.
Richard James invented the Slinky. He was a naval engineer who was known by locals as being clumsy. After he dropped a tension spring and observed how it moved on the floor, he had the idea for the slinky.
He released the toy in 1945 and his first batch of 400 Slinkys was sold in just ninety minutes. As of now, the Slinky has earned James $250M.
Kari Unebasami and Eric Nakagawa are the men behind this domain name and the estimated profit is two million dollars. The idea of creating captions for absurd animal pictures started with a photo of a fat cat and ended with Kari and Eric becoming millionaires. Their main goal was to share the chubby image that jolted the pair into a seventy-three-minute laughing fit with numerous people watching. A series of photos of a fat cat acquiring a ”Cheezburger” followed and fans soon began submitting their creations.
As of now, the site gets more than 35 million hits every month and a total of 8,000 daily submissions. In 2007, they sold the website for two million dollars to Ben Huh, who is the CEO today. Ben created six sister websites, landed a book deal, and the company made about $500K from book sales alone.
15. Billy-Bob Teeth
Jonah White, in 1993, watched a dental student named Rich Bailey pick up girls while using a set of ugly false teeth. Then, he started talking to Bailey, who later agreed to show him how the teeth were created. The duo teamed up and created the business Billy-Bob Teeth. As of now, twenty-million units have been sold, resulting in about $40M in sales.
Sirivision distributed HeadOn. Once directly applied to the forehead, it relieves headaches. Like many things in the online world, HeadOn became famous thanks to the unbearably annoying commercial, which went viral. While HeadOn is made entirely of wax and isn’t backed by scientific research, over six million tubes were sold for eight dollars each.
17. Beanie Babies
Ty Warner is the person behind Beanie Babies, which made him between three to six billion dollars. The concept was to fill a sack with some beans, give it ears, and give it a creative name. The result was an empire larger than Mattel and Hasbro combined.
While most scoffed at the under-stuffed animals of Ty and referred to them as roadkill, the haters were shut down after 30,000 were sold at the first toy show in the state of Atlanta.
Ty Warner established his own empire and became remarkable. He did not advertise his products and never sold them in major chain stores like Toys “R” Us. This made his toys tougher to obtain and more desirable. Aside from that, Ty would retire models after their initial stock sold out, which turned them into prized possessions.
During the height of Beanie Baby, Ty earned $700M in one year. Some might refer to this as a scam, yet the line of collectibles incited the craziest fad frenzy of all time.
18. Koosh Ball
You may not have heard of Scott Stillinger, yet somewhere in your office or home, you probably have one of his creations — the Koosh Ball. Stillinger came up with the concept for the Koosh Ball when he tried tying rubber bands to make an easier-to-catch, smaller ball for his little kids. He also established OddzOn Products Inc. for the distribution of the simple, small toy and within a year, it was flying off of shelves as it was the hottest gift of the year.
His company expanded and he sold the OddzOn in 1994 to Russ Berrie and Company Incorporated, which is a toy manufacturer that was bought by Hasbro, the toy behemoth, in 1997 for $100M.
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