Walking the proven path by following conventional ideas and systematic procedures aren’t the only ways to build a successful business. The business world is full of examples where entrepreneurs have made it big by deviating from the usual and thinking afresh. There are people who have come up with crazy business ideas and have turned them into successful business ventures. Who could have thought that a mere search engine (Google) would rule the world as an advertising giant? Or, who would have thought of overnight shipping becoming a multi-million business for FedEx? There are thousands of businesses today that started off with some weird idea. Here’s our list of the top ten craziest business ventures.
Ten Crazy But Successful Business Ideas
The Million Dollar Homepage
Does $1 for a pixel sound crazy? May be to you it does, but not to those thousands of people who bought space on Alex Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage. In August 2005, this 21 year old boy came up with the weird idea of selling one million pixels of his webpage for one dollar each. He needed this money to fund his university studies, and by the end of 2006 he managed to make his first million.
Kids are crazy about Santa and you can just imagine their happiness if they ever receive a postal mail from Santa. That’s what caught Byron Reese’s attention, back in 2001, when he started his Santa Mail business. All he had to do was to get a postal address somewhere around the North Pole, in Alaska, and a website. Ever since, he’s sent over three hundred thousand letters to kids. But how does he earn? Well, if you want your kid to receive a personalized mail from Santa you’ll have to pay a modest price of $10. Multiply that price with the letters he’s already sent and you’ll see how many millions Reese has made.
Pet Rocks, a brainchild of Gary Dahl, offers a potent solution for pet lovers who just can’t afford to maintain a real pet for whatever reason. For as a little as $3.95 you can have your very own pet (a piece of colored rock), a cardboard kennel, straw bedding and a care manual. More than 1.5 million people have already bought these pet rocks, which translates into something over 6 million dollars for Neiman Marcus – the current retailer of Pet Rocks.
Farmville – Virtual Farming
This increasingly popular game on facebook, gives everyone a chance to raise one’s own farm. The game is addictive and with over 80 million registered users, it’s the most played game on the internet. And as for Zynga Game Network, the creator of this game, this is expected to translate into 350 million dollars as the revenue for 2010. The players may not earn any actual money, but Zynga is getting rich with virtual farming.
Entrepreneur Phil Black, a former Navy SEAL, thought of uniting the fun of playing cards with fitness training and developed a deck of playing cards that had fitness routines on their back. These playing cards are priced at $18.95 and can be purchased online from their website. At present, they offer an extensive range of cards focused on the different exercising needs of the people like – for juniors, for seniors, with equipment, using bodyweight only, Pilates, yoga, soccer, etc. There isn’t much data available on Fit Deck’s revenue, except that they made over $4.7 million for the year 2005.
On the first page we talked about five crazy business ideas that have been successful and have made millions. On this page we’ll talk about five more crazy ideas that have evolved into successful businesses. Although some of the business ideas we’re discussing here may not have made millions, they’re still no less successful.
Whether it sounds crazy or more like a social move, Paul Graves and Brandon Koechlin have setup an online dating platform for HIV positive people. In the very first two years of their venture they managed to get more than 50,000 registrations and their second year revenue was a commendable $1.1 million.
Who would want to pay for a fake plastic wishbone? Strange, but there are many, or Ken Ahroni’s Lucky Wishbone Company wouldn’t have been producing 30,000 fake wishbones a day. With $3 for a wishbone, Ken has made a few million dollars over the years.
Modern Toilet Restaurant
This one’s not just crazy – it’s crappy! The Modern Toilet Restaurants offer an intense dining experience for all those who love to spend time in their bathroom. You get to sit on an actual toilet seat, and the food is served on a glass top fitted bathtub. And it’s no surprise that the crockery used for serving the food also resembles bathtubs, bathroom sinks and WCs. It all started as a small ice cream parlor, by a group of muckrakers, and as of today it is a renowned chain of restaurants in Taiwan.
Is it really hard to think of a good domain name for your website? Apparently, lots of people need help in finding a perfect name for their website and that’s the idea Picky Domains decided to cash in. Even if it doesn’t sound like a workable business idea – the site did manage to make over a million dollars within the first two years.
Designer Diaper Bags
And the last one here on our list is an example of ‘necessity is the mother of all inventions’. Christie Rein, a 34 year old mother of three kids always had trouble carrying the diapers when she had to go out with her children. She couldn’t find a proper bag to carry the diapers and thus with her husband’s help she designed a diaper bag. Today, their company produces a wide range of designer diaper bags which are also sold online. In its first year of operation, Diapies & Wipies earned more than $1.8 million.
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Images by: Sidharth Thakur