Everyone has million dollar ideas but only a handful of us ever become successful or filthy rich. While some people come up with ideas that revolutionize the field of science, there are others who just invent silly stuff. Their purpose? None other than making them filthy rich. These inventions have no great purpose nor do they make the world a better place. Some were simply invented because the creator thought it would be funny. Well, whatever the case is, their idea worked and today, the inventors of these 11 silly inventions are living a happy life.
1. Pet Rock
Some might consider owning reptiles as pets to be crazy. But, what about a pet rock? While the idea sounds absolutely ridiculous, one man found a way to sell it and become a millionaire in a period of just six months. Gary Ross Dahl advertised the Pet Rock to be “No messes. No allergies. No effort. Just pure, simple solidarity.” He placed a smooth shaped rock on a bed of hay inside a cardboard box, “featuring air holes for breathing purposes” and sold it for $3.95. Each sale made him a profit of roughly $3 and Dahl even threw in a training manual for the “hassle-free” pets. Within the first six months, Pet Rock made him $15 million, turning it into one of the greatest fads of all time.
Since the creation of the internet, people have been uploading funny pictures of their cats for the who world to see. Two people however, saw potential in that and found a way to make some money. Eric Nakagawa (aka Cheezburger) and Kari Unebasami (aka Tofu burger) made a website called Icanhascheezburger and shared the image above. After its creation, many found it to be hilarious and started submitting their own images. Soon, the website became a hit with millions of visits and thousands of submissions everyday.
In 2007, the pair struck a deal with now CEO, Ben Huh, and sold the website for $2 million. Today, the website averages 35 million visits every months with more than 8,000 daily submissions. Ben Huh on the other hand managed to make six other sister sites as well as sign a book deal which was a New York Times Best Seller. The book sales alone generates more than half a million in profit every year.
The slinky, one of the best selling toys in the world, was actually discovered accidentally. Richard James, a Naval engineer, was working with a tension spring when he dropped it and saw how it just bounced its way away from him. Thus, the slinky came to life. In 1945, James went in front of some investors at Gimbals in Philadelphia. A nervous James invited his friend to tag along and support him. 400 of the toys were made and they were all sold within 90 minutes. This started something that earned James more than quarter of a billion in sales within the year.
Now who would have thought that flipping a bathrobe around and marketing it for $19.95 would make someone a millionaire? Well, Scott Boilen, president of Allstar Products, did just that. Although there exists other items such as Slankets, which do the same job, they weren’t as successful as the Snuggie. This is because Scott Boilen had something other inventors didn’t have – money – and lots of it. Boilen put out $10 million worth of infomercials for his invention; which actually worked for him. Within the first year, 20 million pieces were sold, earning him an estimated profit of $200 million.
5. Beanie Babies
While the Beanie Babies fad only lasted for a while, its creator H Ty Warner sits on top of billions. The idea was simple; fill a sack with beans, give it furry ears, and name it something cute like Patti the Platypus or Splash the Whale. The result was nothing more than one of the biggest toy empires in the world. While many claimed the empire would collapse within days of its creation, they were quickly proven wrong when 30,000 were sold at the first toy show in Atlanta. During peak sales, Ty raked in $700 million in one year just from the sale of Beanie Baby toys.
Dogs are man’s best friend and they deserve everything. That’s why Roni Di Lullo created the Doggles in 1997, to protect their eyes from the sun. He got the idea one day when his dog was squinting when the sun was at its brightest. After months of designing, Roni came up with a design that fits all dogs and protects their eyes. Roni earns millions in revenue every year and still continues to make products for pets.
7. Lucky Break Wishbone
The tradition of breaking wishbones has been part of Thanksgiving for decades. Whoever gets the bigger part is said to have their wish come true. Ken Ahroni was heartbroken by the fact that only two people can make a wish at each Thanksgiving table. This made him start a company called LuckyBreak, that produces fake wishbones; so that everyone can make a wish during the celebration. At $3 a piece, the company reports sales of over $2.5 million each year.
8. Big Mouth Billy Bass
In 1998, Joe Pellettieri of Bass Pro Shops came up with the funny Big Mouth Billy Bass which attaches to a wall as decoration. When the button is pressed, the rubber fish turns toward you and sings, “Don’t Worry Be Happy and Take Me To the River”. For a while, the item was a huge fad; which of course didn’t last very long but was enough to earn Joe and the manufacturer, Gemmy millions of dollars.
This is probably one of the strangest inventions ever. Rick Hunts, a carpenter from California, came up with the idea for Flowbee; which was a precision home haircutting system. The clippers attach to the end of a vacuum cleaner and as you brush it against your hair, it cuts while the vacuum cleaner sucks all the hair in. Rick patented the Flowbee in 1987 and started selling them at state fairs. After a while, he made infomercials; which boosted his sales and sold over 2 million pieces.
10. Potato Parcel
In 2015, Alex Craig invented the Potato Parcel Service, where you can buy a potato on their website and write a custom message. Once your order is placed, the company inscribes the words onto a potato and sends it to whoever you choose; anonymously. The company charges $10 per potato order and it is used by people worldwide. Soon after it was launched, Alex Craig became a millionaire.
11. The Fidget Spinner
The stress relieving toy was a fad in 2017, selling more than 50 million. In 1997, Catherine Hettinger designed, created and patented the Fidget Spinner to help people who have too much nervous energy and trouble concentrating. Since then, she tried to convince many manufacturers to take her creation but no one saw potential in it. The chemical engineer from Florida spent a ridiculous amount of time to invent it but years later, the patent was about to expire. Catherine Hettinger had to pay a $400 renewal fee, which she was unable to afford; forcing her to let the patent expire.
Others however, saw this as an opportunity to make big bucks. Prowling eyes took the idea, made it in bulk and started selling it. Within days, the Fidget Spinner became a fad, creating new millionaires, but not its original creator. Hettinger’s daughter says she is not bitter about what happened: “She doesn’t care about the money. She is just happy people are enjoying it.”