5 Silly ideas that turned into an amazing business
How many times a week, a day, even an hour sometimes, have you had an idea that for a second sounded genius, and then on second thought it just sounded silly or crazy? How many of those ideas just disappeared in the back of your mind and one or two eventually came back and had you wonder: “Could that maybe have worked?” and then it just stays there, as an idea, probably a silly one.
Many people, myself included, tend to think that an idea for a great business needs to make sense, or to obviously be something that everybody wants, and therefore, just ignore 99% of those other ideas that sound too farfetched for the world we live in.
We tend to disregard our wildest ideas because they would never work or would be too crazy to act on them and bet on them. But that’s the thing: the best things in the world have come from insane, out of this world thoughts that were actually brought to reality.
You can call me a fan, but I would’ve loved to be sitting in the room where an idea for a movie about a Tornado full of sharks was pitched for the first time. Sharknado as a Franchise today has 6 movies and all kinds of licensed products from Slot Machines in Vegas to any apparel and accessories you can think of, but that is worth its own post on this blog.
So in the Sharknado Spirit, I wanted to bring you 5 examples of ideas that could’ve sounded silly, impossible or just not real and became great businesses by themselves to let you know that you should never just dismiss an idea you are passionate about if you think it’s something that you would love, or would be useful, then chances are there’s at least a few thousand more human beings in this world that agree with you.
Silly Idea 1: How bout we make a blanket with sleeves, so we don’t have to be cold when we grab the remote or out munchies.
Well not so silly after all, you can credit the creation to Slanket or Snuggies (Far more popular one), but the reality is both of them made millions of dollars in sales when they finally hit the market and started promotion their products. Which not only shows ideas don’t need to be “smart” or “unique” to make you a big business.
Silly Idea 2: What if fancy women rented clothes for events instead of buying them?
Rent the Runway was launched over ten years ago and their business model was simple, instead of having to buy super expensive clothes, what if we gave women the option to go against everything they were used to doing (buying super expensive dresses that would spend months if not years in a closet waiting to be worn again, if) and let them rent a very very fancy piece of clothing only for the occasion.
Today the company that has been named one of the most disruptive companies in the world makes over a hundred million dollars a year.
Silly Idea 3: Wouldn’t it be cool have a pet that didn’t need to be taken care of?
Sure, but every pet (even plants) need to be taken care of you know? You have to feed them, you have to pet them, you have to give them water, and worst of all you have to clean up after them. Well in comes the Pet Rock, yep, you read that right.
A man named Gary Dahl came up with the idea in 1975 and died soon enough at the beginning of 1976 but in that one year the creator who came up with a Rock inside of a box with holes sold as a pet for 4 USD sold over a million dollars worth of Pet Rocks. Not a bad business for a crazy idea that lasted a mere year.
Silly Idea 4: Selling ad space in a website not by Impressions, clicks or conversions but by pixel.
In 2005 a kid had a crazy idea to get rich quick: Create a website with one million pixels, distributed 1000 x 1000 and sell each pixel for a dollar. The set up cost him $50 USD at the time and two days of his life. Selling by a minimum of 100 pixels anyone could buy space in his website for an image or a logo, hyperlink included.
A few friends and family and a PR agency later by the next year Alex Tew at 21 years old had become a millionaire. The webpage became a legend in online advertising and that kid today is once of the biggest app creators with Calm which at 7 years old is valued at over 1 billion dollars.
Silly Idea 5: Let’s create an app where a stranger can hop on in another strangers´ car to be driven wherever he wants for money
Ok, that was not the original idea behind Uber, BUT it is what made it one of the largest most recognized companies in the entire world. Chances are if you have wifi and a smart phone and live in a major country you have Uber in your phone.
The idea in paper sounds absolutely ridiculous, even today saying it like that not using the “car sharing apps” concept sounds dangerous and ill advised but the fact of the matter is that it has created so many gig jobs for millions of drivers in the world and has made millions’ more commutes and lifes safer, simpler, and happier.
Seeing all of these ideas as concept is a very interesting exercise because we are out toughest judges and we are usually responsible for drowning our creativity. I’m not saying any crazy or silly idea can become a million dollar start up, but I am asking everyone out there with an idea, to work with it a little, take it a step further, try to imagine a business model around it, a logo, a campaign even. Maybe in there, trying a little bit you will find that that silly idea could potentially become your financial freedom, your next big project or a billion-dollar company.
If you have an idea and want to give it a test run, why not take our “How to Turn any Idea into a Business” course? You might end up with something worth it in your hands.
Written by Miguel A. Castro
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