No idea where entrepreneurs come out as lucky, all I hear about is how much they invest in a business and thrive to get their business to the top.
The truth is, some people started small businesses as a joke, expected little result, and made a ton of money using strange strategies — they got lucky.
Here are some of the people that became millionaires, or even billionaires using strategies that grew their business from 0 to infinity to produce yield.
1. Erik Nakagawa Sold his Cat Memes Website for $2 Million
As they say, a world without cats is a world without fun. Just kidding, nobody says that.
On a rough day for a lonely over-worker named Eric Nakagawa who was a software developer, he asked his friend, Kari Unebasami to send something to make his day better.
Kari Unebasami then sent Nakagawa a heap load of cat photos. The most popular one was a photo of a British Shorthair with an intended incorrect caption “I Can Has Cheezburger?”
The photo was so funny that they went out of their way to create a website blog dedicated to funny cat memes. I mean cat memes are relieving, and it was worth it.
The site got so popular that they decided to allow submissions on the blog. Many enemies tried to take over and after a while, Nakagawa stated that It was too much work.
In 2007, they sold the website for $2 million to Ben Huh, an internet entrepreneur who had a disagreement with the I Can Haz Cheezburger site earlier on. After a while, Huh took over and became a self-made CEO.
All Nakagawa and Unebasami did, was upload silly cat memes and soon after, they got the hang of the internet. Maybe I should host a dog meme blog and sell for $100 million. Who knows? I could get lucky too.
2. The Waste Paper Recycling Queen of China
I love this female billionaire, she turned waste and trash into millions and now she’s termed China’s “Queen of Trash”. As discouraging as it sounds, I’d love to bear it.
At a young age of 28, she opened the paper trading company, Ying Gang Shen, in Hong Kong with her savings of $3,800. But after realizing that the paper quality in China was quite low. She set off for Los Angeles, USA, to discover more resources.
She continuously bought the waste paper, recycled it, and sent it back to China and other countries.
She knew that China had a lot of business that dealt with international trade.
She got successful with this strategy and enlarged her firm “Nine Dragons Paper Holdings,” together with her husband and brother. It is now one of the largest paper trading firms that make sweet billions as revenue.
Zhang Yin became the first Chinese billionaire with a current net worth of $1.8 billion.
She is one of the richest persons in greater China. She currently ranks as the fourth richest woman in Mainland China, and 24th richest overall, according to the Hurun Report China Rich List 2013.(Wikipedia)
I guess it’s time for me to pick up used Coca-Cola cans for recycling. The term “Lordess of Tin” certainly suits me.
3. The Domain Name That Changed a Man’s Life
Suddenly, I feel ashamed for not buying a domain name in the 90s, just like Chris Clark.
Chris Clark became a millionaire by buying a domain name, Pizza.com back in 1994. The internet wasn’t saturated and all he could do spend crazy bucks on the annual fee of $20 for the domain name.
This man waited for 14 years before he decided to host a frenzied auction with the hope of selling it to a Pizza company.
It’s crazy how $2.6 million came out of this. And even Chris Clark who was the real Pizza.com owner said it himself.
“It’s crazy, it’s just crazy,” said Clark after the auction closed. “It will make a significant difference in my life, for sure.” (Wired)
4. The Cunning Guy That Used the Aroma of Pastries to Entice His Customers
I have to say, this guy is a boomer!
When you hear the name Johnny Cupcakes Inc. Your mind suddenly goes to cupcakes right? And without thinking much, you assume it’s a pastry company that produces the best cupcakes ever.
It’s actually a clothing brand by Johnny Earle. I have no idea what his sole focus was, but the name sounds so enticing, I’m starting to think he wanted his customers to eat the shirts.
This guy started selling his branded shirts under a nickname his friend gave him, Johnny Cupcakes, at the truck of his car in 2001.
After gaining some popularity, he decided to launch his official boutique to promote his sales in 2005. Claims were made that he started his cupcake brand shirt as a joke, but even if it was, he had the coolest strategy.
His boutique has the appearance of a foreign bakery. he placed baking racks, refrigerators, even a 1930s dough mixer. He also used vanilla-scented air fresheners to lure people in. He even went as far as using customized pastry boxes as his brand packaging.
People were indeed enticed, some got angry that it wasn’t actually a cake shop though, but who cares, he still made his money being a smart guy.
In 2008, Johnny got even luckier and got picked for best entrepreneurs aged 25 and under. His company got placed at number 237 Inc. 500 in 2009. As of today, his net worth is $3.8 million.
I told my best friend this story and she’s convinced she could make a ton selling her makeup brand in shoe boxes. Now, that’s weird!
5. Post a Secret Millionaire and TED Speaker
At this point, I’m convinced that anything can make me a millionaire. Thanks to this awesome human known as Frank Warren. No, not the singer. Frank Warren the guy that turned people’s secrets into dollar bills.
He is the founder of the PostSecret Project — this project consisted of a blog site of 700 million views where secrets are shared through postcards (incognito).
2005, he developed a community where people were welcomed to share their deepest secrets anonymously. He asked them to share their secrets through postcards that he distributed to strangers in different parts of Washington.
You are invited to anonymously contribute a secret to a group art project. Your secret can be a regret, fear, betrayal, desire, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything — as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before. Be brief. Be legible. Be creative.
— Washington Magazine
This idea, later on, moved him to create a blog site where people could have easier access to make comments on each other’s secrets. It got a lot of traffic and so, an IOS app came along the line.
However, no restrictions came along with disadvantages. September 16th, 2007, Blogger mistakenly shut down the blog as it was thought to be a spam site. And even when it was rectified, he decided to take a break in 2009.
He turned the secrets he got into a book, PostSecret Confessions on Life, Death, and God which was a №1 New York Times bestseller.
6. The $3 Million Company Dedicated to a Dog’s Vision
People like Roni Di Lullo inspire me to become the go-getter I truly am. Roni Di Lullo is the entrepreneur that rules the crazy business idea world.
She was a kind-hearted person who not only cared about humans but also dogs. She was at a park one day and happened to notice her dog, Midknight, blinking unpleasantly due to the sun, and that was when she had an idea.
To invent the dog glasses known as “Doggles.”
The success of her idea was due to the persistent experiments she did to match the dog’s head shape.
Doggles are constructed out of a tinted polycarbonate material for UV protection, with elastic straps to secure them to the dog’s head. Dog wearing Doggles while travelling on the back of a motorcycle. Doggles were ranked №6 in a list of “10 ideas that shouldn’t have worked — but made millions” by MSN Money, and by 2004, were being sold in 4,500 shops in 16 countries, and now include the option of prescription lenses.
She built a $3 million company, Doggles Inc. to carry her invention.
7. Building a Room Full of Cash by Selling Ugly Fake Teeth
Jonah White, the founder of Billy-Bob Teeth Inc., and his partner had a weird goal of making people look beautifully ugly with the use of fake hillbilly’s teeth.
These guys settled down to manufacture 6000 pairs for a first and sold them across the country.
Basically, we found that any outdoor family setting was conducive to good business and highly susceptible to our ruthless Billy Bob Teeth sales team. Our best single day performance was $17,000, but most of these events yielded at least $2,000 to $5,000 per day. Those were great times. Overall, four years after we started, we were earning $2 million a year in 1998. It helped, of course, that we got the deal to make Austin Powers’s teeth, and that later, Miley Cyrus started to wear them. We cut a licensing deal with her and split the profits.
— Mel Magazine
They made $50 million after selling a total of 20 million teeth that made humans look ugly in over 150 countries. It was definitely a trend at that time, seeing how much success came out of the idea.
These success stories are very motivational to people who are having a hard time finding the courage to turn those crazy ideas their minds have gifted them.
I learned that crazy and weird ideas depending on how good your strategy is, could someday become a success if you put your mind to it.
Maybe it’s time to stop waiting to be a lottery winner and bring your ideas to life. Sometimes, it pays off to be a go-getter.