Not every self-made millionaire has to achieve his/her status by creating something groundbreaking, such as the assembly line, Facebook, Microsoft or Apple. History tells us that even the simplest—and sometimes trivial—idea can be marketed correctly and sold for a fortune.
Here are ten unlikely inventions that made their creators millions of dollars (along with values and facts derived from Business Insider and Entrepreneurs for a Change) that will leave yourself asking “why couldn’t I have thought of that?”
10 Buisness Ideas Turned into Big Bucks
The Pet Rock.
Yes, the fad that ran rampant throughout the 1970s made its creator, Gary Dahl, nearly $15 million in franchise’s first six months of business. The toy was an instant—albeit bizarre—sensation that took the hearts of Americans. Sometimes, it appears that rock can be man’s best friend.
Something as ridiculous and simple as a meme can make a person rich in the twenty-first century. The famous photo of the exuberant kitten with the typed label asking “I can has a cheezburger?” and the ensuing website, which sees thousands of visits per day, made the co-creators of the meme over two million dollars.
This million-dollar idea was born when Paul Graves and Brandon Koechlin created a dating website that exclusively matches HIV-positive people. Soon, the site had more than 50,000 users, making the two very wealthy.
Everybody knows what a slinky is. It has become one of the most well-known toys for children, even though it is as simple as coiled metal. First introduced in the 1940’s it is estimated that the slinky earned north of $250 million.
Only slightly more complicated than the slinky in its construction, the Beanie Babies franchise has managed to make its creator, Ty Warner, between $3 and $6 billion (yes, billion), all without having used a single ad campaign or being sold through major toy stores.
The conveniently-crafted piece of cloth went from a ridiculed infomercial product to a household item. The goofy blanket with sleeves is worth over $200 million.
The Yellow Smiley Face and the “Have A Nice Day!” slogan.
Yes, believe it or not this was a patentable creation that has amassed over a half of a billion dollars, much to the chagrin of its inventor, who sold the idea for $45.
The Wacky Wall Walker.
The small, slimy toy that, when thrown against a wall, appears to crawl down it. Yep, the originally little-known Chinese toy was brought to the States and turned into an eighty million dollar franchise.
Capitalizing on obsessive dog owners everywhere, Doggles is a canine sunglasses manufacturer that has been made rich from its specially-crafted spectacles for customers’ pooches.
Finally, a company offered a place for children’s letters to Santa Clause to be delivered. Stationed in The North Poll, Alaska, the company makes millions receiving fan mail that is intended for St. Nick.
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