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Author Topic: 11 Normal People Who Got Rich With Wacky Business Ideas  (Read 3723 times)

innovator

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11 Normal People Who Got Rich With Wacky Business Ideas
« on: November 03, 2011, 07:15:16 AM »

How do these crazy ideas actually work? Below is a list of the wackiest, weirdest, craziest ways with which people have been making good money.

1. Pickle Sickle

Pickle Sickle
Pickle Sickle
Texas roller rink owner John Howard sells frozen treats made from freshly squeezed pickle juice to pregnant women and schools across the country.

A Pickle Sickle™ is exactly what it sounds like: a frozen food treat made from the juice of freshly squeezed pickles, mixed with their brine. The result is a savory, refreshing frozen food which might sound rather bizarre to people who are not acquainted with the delights of pickle brine, or to those who associate “frozen treat” with something sweet. The Pickle Sickle™ comes from Texas, a state where people happen to be extremely fond of pickle brine, and it is a natural extension of an already existing Texan treat, a shaved ice drizzled with pickle juice.

Pickle brine is a tart, flavorful liquid which many people reject once they've finished a container of pickles. However, some aficionados like to drink the brine, use it in mixed drinks, or add it to various recipes, harnessing the intense burst of tart flavor. For fans of pickle brine, this is a perfectly normal and in fact pleasurable activity, although many people find the concept of drinking pickle brine totally incomprehensible and even a bit revolting.

John Howard of Seguin, Texas, is responsible for packaging the Pickle Sickle™, also known as Bob's Pickle Pop™, and shipping it to pickle juice fans around the world. Pickle Sickles™ come in room temperature blister packs which are designed to be stuck in the freezer. After a night of freezing, the pickle juice inside has solidified into a form of popsicle, which can be squeezed out of the package. The end result is tart and briny, and it can be eaten alone or even as a palate cleanser between courses.

In hot weather, a Pickle Sickle™ can be quite enjoyable, as sweet frozen desserts often seem cloying in hot weather. The brine also helps the body resist dehydration, which can be a useful incidental side effect. Some dieters have also adopted the Pickle Sickle™ as a low fat snack food to eat when a food craving comes on.

Bob's Pickle Sickles™ claims that if you try a Pickle Sickle™, you might just like it. In addition to purchasing this interesting frozen treat, you can also make your own version at home, by juicing some pickles, mixing the juice with brine, and pouring it into a popsicle mold for freezing. After a night of freezing, your own pickle sickles will be ready to eat, and in addition to enjoying them as a snack, you can also make them a conversation piece at parties.

2. My Yearbook

My Yearbook - Catherine Cook
My Yearbook - Catherine Cook
Oh to be in high school and be a millionaire. Catherine, only 16, convinced her older brother to help her start myYearbook.com which now has growth spurts that have outpaced both Facebook and MySpace.

In 2005, Catherine Cook and her brother David had an idea for a startup. The high schoolers flipped through a yearbook and wanted to make a digital version.

The 15-and-16-year-olds got to work and created MyYearbook. In the 6-year span, the duo raised $17 million in financing, grew the site to 20 million users, and generated 1.2 billion monthly pageviews.

History:

MyYearbook was initially created by two high school students, David and Catherine Cook, and their older brother Geoff, during Spring Break of 2005. Catherine persuaded Geoff, who founded EssayEdge.com and ResumeEdge.com from a dorm in 1997, to invest in their project. At the launch of the site in April 2005, Dave was a junior and Catherine was a sophomore; the project was initially activated at Montgomery High School, in suburban New Jersey where they attended. The site was created entirely by developers in India.

In 2008, myYearbook partnered with casual game developer Arkadium to bring Flash based games to the site. The games incorporate Lunch Money, the myYearbook virtual currency. Lunch Money earned playing games are used elsewhere on the site.

In April 2009, the site added the Meebo instant messaging client to the site in order to provide real time chat.

In November 2009, myYearbook launched Chatter, a real-time stream that incorporates media sharing and gaming to help bring members together. Games you can play inside the stream include Ask Me, Rate Me and 2 Truths and a Lie. These games incorporate mechanics that help myYearbook members meet each other. By April 2010 the site reported the Chatter feature surpassed 1 million posts per day.

In January 2010, myYearbook rolled out a new site design aimed to appeal to an older demographic. Of note is the "winning" site design was chosen through crowd-sourcing its members.

In May 2010, myYearbook launched an iPhone/iPod Touch and Android application designed to bring the Chatter real time feed to mobile devices.

In July 2011, myYearbook was bought by Latino social networking site Quepasa for $100 Million In Cash And Stock. The majority of the deal, $82 million, is Quepasa common stock. The other $18 million is cash.

3. Origami Boulder

Origami Boulder is wadded up paper
Origami Boulder is wadded up paper
This has got to be the dumbest idea of all, but made it on this list just because it’s so dumb it’s genius. This person sells “Origami Boulders” online which isn’t origami at all. It’s actually a wadded up piece of paper that they somehow convince people to buy. Very bizarre, but works.

Since approximately 2002, the Origami Boulder people at http://origamiboulder.com/ have amused visitors and frustrated people for years. The thing is, you don’t know if it is a joke or not.  The copy is written in broken English as a joke.   It’s like calling up for Chinese take out and hearing the phone recipient take your order.  The webmaster has done a hilarious recreation of that concept in his copy for you to buy his product.

There is no online shopping cart to purchase this product, yet the option to buy via Paypal.  But you can buy the Wadded Up Paper in various options:
-  Wadded Paper Origami Boulder, $10
-  Wadded Paper Origami Boulder with Haiku, $15
-  Origami Boulder Performance Art Option (no product), $3

If you have a few moments and want to read hilarious copy to figure out if it is real or not head over to the wadded up paper site.

No I would not buy this, but I can tell this, I do have one of the original black belts in Origami and am lethal as a paper cut!!

4. Cameron Johnson

Cameron Johnson
Cameron Johnson
This young entrepreneur got his start at the age of nine making greeting cards, expanded into reselling Ty Beanie Babies on eBay by the age of 12 and finally sold his online advertising company for an undisclosed sum after making $3 to $4 million a month. His latest venture, CertificateSwap, that allows people to swap out unwanted gift certificates just sold for six-figures. He’s now working the lecture circuit and focusing on helping others strike entrepreneur gold.
 
In 2000, while 15, he became the youngest American appointed to the board of a Tokyo-based company. His first book "15-Year-Old-CEO" was released in Japan and made it to #4 on the country's bestseller list.

In January, 2007, his book "You Call the Shots: Succeed Your Way - and Live the Life You Want - with the 19 Essential Secrets of Entrepreneurship" was released by Simon & Schuster. It became an instant bestseller and has been translated into many languages around the world.

He has appeared in hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and television programs worldwide including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. In 2008, he was a finalist and was featured in all 8 episodes of Oprah's Big Give. In early 2009, he hosted Beat the Boss series 4, which took the name 'Beat the Boss: USA'. In 2008, he was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Virginians, and in 2009 he was a recipient of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans award from the U.S. Junior Chamber (The Jaycees).`

5. Edible.com

Edible Ants - Edible.com
Edible Ants - Edible.com
This business is simple, just cook up some giant toasted leaf-cutter ants and reindeer pate and wash it down with some lizard wine or monkey-picked tea wash and you’re all set. Seriously, they have a whole product line of this stuff.

Edible was created in 2000 to broaden the minds and open up the palates of those of us in the western world who are fairly limited in culinary terms. After years of travelling to the farther flung regions of the globe, and seeing all manner of unique and unusual delicacies being consumed, their founder decided that he would like to make these experiences available to us.

Edible aims to bring you delicacies that you may never have considered or perhaps seen before, whether it be recreations of ancient aphrodisiacs consumed in the court of Queen Cleopatra, Insects eaten by the street traders of Phnom Penh or more sedate but equally interesting fayre such as rare chewing gum from Japan with unique weird and wonderful flavours to rare chocolate, teas or coffees found by their epicurean explorers around the globe. Some of these items are produced in Edible’s kitchens and are products of their very own creation and others may come direct from an Indigenous farmer or even a major manufacturer.

Edible was founded on the principles of sustainable, ecologically sound and fairly traded sourcing, coupled with strict wildlife conservation ethics and the desire to support Indigenous people’s traditional way of life. Our raw ingredients are either sustainably farmed or collected from monitored sources. We do not believe there is a difference in eating a farm raised Insect as opposed to a farm raised prawn or chicken. Indeed our sourced raw ingredients do not suffer the same stresses or mistreatment in the same way commercially farmed species often do.

Over 10% of all of Edible’s profits go directly to rare & endangered species conservation projects worldwide. Mainly in countries where they are currently producing or sourcing raw ingredients. One remarkable project they are able to support is for an endangered species of Civet in Vietnam (The Owston’s Civet), this is made possible by the sale of their Civet Coffee. This project both studies, protects and carries out anti-poaching work in Vietnam for this remarkable animal. So far Edible has built a veterinary facility for the project and helped facilitate a PHD student to study rare carnivores in the Mekong Delta.

6. Banana Bunker

Banana Bunker
Banana Bunker
Now be careful, don’t bruise your banana! It’s like a plastic storage container to fit any size banana and keep it safe while you’re on the go. The Banana Bunker has been very successful with it’s call to providing protection for soft fruit.
 
Bruised bananas are a tragedy all too often experienced by those of us who like to enjoy a banana for lunch or a healthy snack. The Banana Bunker is a flexible, plastic device specifically designed to protect your bananas from a messy, squishy fate.

The Banana Bunker's innovative design features open ends and a flexible and detachable mid-section. These allow you to adjust the bunker to fit nearly any size and shape of banana.

Yes, we're quite aware of what the Banana Bunker looks like. But it works! And let's face it, the alternative to a slightly bizarre-looking banana protector is smooshed banana all over your purse or lunch bag. And that's just gross.

Lets get real. How many times were you expecting a nice firm banana and got mush instead? It has happens to all of us and we try to explain the reasons why, but we know why. We didn’t use the Banana Bunker! The banana bunker protects your banana and sees that it will be fresh and firm when your are ready to eat it. Make no mistake here, this is a real product for real banana lovers.

        Dimensions: 9.5″ x 2.25″ diameter
        Protects nearly any size banana
        Tough, flexible plastic housing
        Colors: Orange, Blue, Green, Yellow, Clear

Protect your banana and enjoy your lunch with the Banana Bunker. Available at Vat19 for $5.95 and at Amazon from $13.95 for a set of 2.

7. Post Secret

Post Secret
Post Secret
[Frank Warren has mastered the business of taking something so personal, making it so public and in return becoming sooo successful. He has a blog where people post a personal secret in an artistic way, and then he compiles them as best selling books.
 
PostSecret is an ongoing community mail art project, created by Frank Warren, in which people mail their secrets anonymously on a homemade postcard. Select secrets are then posted on the PostSecret website, or used for PostSecret's books or museum exhibits.

The concept of the project was that completely anonymous people decorate a postcard and portray a secret that they had never previously revealed. No restrictions are made on the content of the secret; only that it must be completely truthful and must never have been spoken before. Entries range from admissions of sexual misconduct and criminal activity to confessions of secret desires, embarrassing habits, hopes and dreams. The secrets are meant to be empowering both to the author and to those who read it. Frank Warren claims that the postcards are inspirational to those who read them, have healing powers for those who write them, give hope to people who identify with a stranger's secret, and create an anonymous community of acceptance.

PostSecret collected and displayed upwards of 2,500 original pieces of art from people across the United States and around the world between its founding on January 1, 2005 and 2007.

The site, which started as an experiment on Blogspot, was updated every Sunday with 10 new secrets, all of which share a relatively constant style, giving the artists who participate some guidelines on how their secrets should be represented. It recently began posting approximately 20 new pieces each Sunday after a week when Warren mysteriously did not post any new secrets for one week.

8. Lucky Wishbone

Lucky Wishbone
Lucky Wishbone
“Lucky” is right. Taking advantage of the people who can’t wait until Thanksgiving for a wishbone, this company is producing 30,000 plastic wishbones per month and sales have exceeded one million dollars.

Ken Ahroni:

“Each Thanksgiving, my household brims with abundance and gratitude. But after dinner my family always squabbles over who gets to break the wishbone. One year I had an idea that would solve the problem for my family and, I was sure, many others on Turkey Day.

I was familiar with plastic manufacturing because I ran a consulting firm that helped Christmas-light makers meet quality standards. So I called eight plastic companies and requested samples of breakable plastic. They wondered why I wanted them, but I didn't tell. After a year of testing we launched our product in 2004: a plastic wishbone with the feel and satisfying snap of a real turkey bone.

Given my background with seasonal products, I was confident enough of this one to wind down my consulting business and focus on bringing the wishbones to market. We began in a few Seattle-area novelty and grocery stores. By 2006 we had hit almost $1 million in sales, and our four-packs were selling in nearly 1,000 outlets, such as the Party Store chain, in 40 states.

Why, at traditional Thanksgiving meals, served all across the country, when there is a bounty of food, is there but one lonely wishbone?

The days of fighting over that dearly beloved wishbone with my two sisters were long gone. Experiencing the joy of somehow letting my son win the break when he was young was also but a fading memory. I realized that there seems to be this unspoken law, almost like a rite of passage to the next Generation that arrives one year without warning. Yes, the simple truth is that the wishbone belong to the young. I couldn't even remember the last time I was lucky enough to get my hand on one. Maybe a half dozen times in 47 years. And it was MY Birthday!

The feasts throughout the land would soon be over. The wishbone would be left on the windowsill to dry and then one day, unceremoniously, without the presence of most of the dinner guests on that festive night, wishbones would be challenged. There had to be a better way!

And so, I invented Lucky Break® Wishbones for the masses so everybody, including vegetarians, have a chance to make a wish — with grandma AND grandpa AND mom AND dad AND friends, etc. etc. on Thanksgiving and every day throughout the year! And well, as they say — THE REST IS HISTORY."

9. Whatever Life

Whatever Life - Ashley Qualls
Whatever Life - Ashley Qualls
A teenage girl started a website offering free layouts for MySpace that is now worth more than $1.5 million.

No rich relatives? No professional mentors? No problem. Ashley Qualls, 17, has built a million-dollar web site. She's LOL all the way to the bank. :)

According to Google Analytics, Whateverlife attracts more than 7 million individuals and 60 million page views a month. That's a larger audience than the circulations of Seventeen, Teen Vogue, and CosmoGirl! magazines combined. Although Web-site rankings vary with the methodology, Quantcast, a popular source among advertisers, ranked Whateverlife.com a staggering No. 349 in mid-July out of more than 20 million sites. Among the sites in its rearview mirror: Britannica.com, AmericanIdol.com, FDA .gov, and CBS.com.

And one more, which Ashley can't quite believe herself: "I'm ahead of Oprah!" (Oprah.com: No. 469.) Sure, Ashley is a long way from having Oprah's clout, but she is establishing a platform of her own. "I have this audience of so many people, I can say anything I want to," she says. "I can say, "Check out this movie or this artist.' It's, like, a rush. I never thought I'd be an influencer." (Attention pollsters: 1,500 girls have added the Join Team Hillary '08 desktop button to their MySpace pages since Ashley offered it in March.)

She has come along with the right idea at the right time. Eager to customize their MySpace profiles, girls cut and paste the HTML code for Whateverlife layouts featuring hearts, flowers, celebrities, and so on onto their personal page and--presto--a new look. Think of it as MySpace clothes; some kids change their layouts nearly as frequently. "It's all about giving girls what they want," Ashley says.

10. Rent-A-Cow

Rent-A-Cow
Rent-A-Cow
If you’ve ever toured a winery, spent a few weeks at a dude ranch or even taken the kids apple picking, you’ve been an agritourist. If you left yearning for a more hands-on farm experience, well, you’re not the only one.
 
As the buzz around sustainable farming grows, interactive agritourism shows no signs of slowing down.

In part inspired by the sustainable food movement, tourists are lining up to help with the milking, hoeing and harvesting, and farmers are taking advantage of the boom in volunteer labor.

For those who dream of working the land, farmhand vacations and livestock rentals could be the next big thing.

The Rent-a-cow concept made headlines back in September 2010, when an article from the Inter Press Service profiled enterprising Swiss farmer Michel Izoz. Izoz rents his cows out to local urbanites for up to a whole season. The cows remain on his picturesque alpine farm, and customers pay to visit ‘their’ cows cows and perform manual farm labor.

Chores include preparing cows for milking, clearing pastures and cleaning out barns, and the experience comes at a cost of 380 Swiss Francs (385 U.S. dollars) for a season’s rental. Yet the program has become hugely popular and has even inspired similar programs at neighboring farms.
“I think city people need nature, not necessarily cows, but nature in general and everything that goes with it,” an AFP video quotes Izoz as saying. “The cows are an excuse, and I provide people with that excuse.”

Farm animal rentals and hands-on farm experiences are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. A recent spread in Our Iowa magazine promoted a rent-a-cow package as a holiday gift. Renters get a humorous “Cowlender,” a sample of cheese and an invitation to travel to the farm to meet their cow (all cows in the program are known as ‘Bonnie’).

The rental doesn’t include a laboring agreement, as the ad points out with a wink.

11. Fit Deck

Fit Deck Playing Cards
Fit Deck Playing Cards
How this worked I don’t know, but Phil Black has made $4.7 million off of these playing cards with an exercise theme. They sell for $18.95 a pack and obviously, people are interested.

No weights, no problem...

FitDecks in this category contain exercises performed with your bodyweight only - no need for equipment or special machines. These FitDeck titles represent the true essence of FitDeck - a collection of simple, convenient, and fun exercises that can be performed anywhere, anytime.
 
FitDeck is a unique deck of 56 playing cards containing illustrations and instructions describing over 50 different exercises, stretches, and movements.

These ‘no-equipment’ FitDecks contain exercises that require only your bodyweight to perform. ‘FitDeck Bodyweight’ is our flagship product in this popular series of ‘no-equipment’ FitDecks.

Choose any of these eight FitDeck titles and enjoy the freedom to workout when you want – where you want.

•   FitDeck Bodyweight
•   FitDeck Senior
•   FitDeck Junior
•   FitDeck Yoga
•   FitDeck Pilates
•   FitDeck Stretch
•   FitDeck Prenatal
•   FitDeck Postnatal
•   FitDeck Basketball
•   FitDeck Soccer
•   FitDeck Swimming

These FitDecks can be used on their own -- or they can be mixed into other FitDecks or FitDeck Boosters to create hundreds of interesting cross-training opportunities.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2011, 08:23:54 AM by innovator »
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“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” - Steve Jobs (American Entrepreneur, Apple co-Founder, b.1955)
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