15 Crazy Inventions That Made Millions (But We Didn’t Know Existed)
Inventions are meant to improve our lives and make things better for us on a day to day basis. Some inventors have gone down in history for their creative and important contributions to mankind. Who has not heard of Alexander Graham Bell or Thomas Edison? I can’t even begin to imagine what would our lives be like today without phones and lights. And more recent inventors like Steve Jobs of Apple and even George Lucas creator Star Wars will probably go down in history as some of the greatest inventors of all time. Coming up with some new or useful process or by making something that never existed is what an inventor is supposed to strive for, but not all inventions are created equal. Sometimes the inventor falls far short of history-making and fails miserably. But have no fear future inventors, because in some cases the goofiest and most useless ideas have been turned into inventions that have made millions, and sometimes billions of dollars for their creators. From things like making your teeth, your dog or you looking just plain ridiculous, to websites that are just not that useful, you too can be a millionaire with just one crazy idea.
Listed by the Daily Mall as one of the “most useless inventions ever” and ranked #6 in MSN Money’s “10 ideas that shouldn’t have worked”, Doggles instead has made millions. The inventor felt a need for her dog to have a pair of sunglasses to stop her from squinting when she went out in the sunlight, hence the birth of Doggles. You can have a pair of Doggles sent to your doorstep for about $20. and even have the option to get prescription lenses for them. Made out of tinted polycarbonate for UV protection, your doggies peepers will be safe from dust, sun and debris.
14. Billy-Bob Teeth
Billybobproducts.com has made around $40 million dollars selling bad fake teeth. With a facebook page captioning “Join our trailer park community” and “to us a home is a mobile device”, I can see why the allure for this product is so great. The idea for the bad grill came to Jonah White in 1993. Rich Bailey, his friend, and a dental student was attempting to pick up girls while donning the hideous false teeth. They partnered up and started the business creating the custom fitting teeth to give the wearer that authentic ‘backwoodsman’ look. A pair from Walmart or Amazon will set you back about $10. I guess it’s cheaper than the dentist.
13. The Flowbee
Watch out SuperCuts here comes the Flowbee. Pretty much just a small vacuum cleaner with multiple hair clipper attachments, you just run it through your hair with no clippings to have to clean up. Invented in the early nineties by a California carpenter, the Flowbee was introduced to the world at the state fair. Ramping it up a notch to late night TV infomercials really took the invention to the million dollar level. Since then over two million Flowbee’s have been sold. I’m not sure I agree with company motto “save money “. At a cost of $115 for the mini-vac system, you can buy yourself a lot of SuperCuts.
12. Plastic Wishbones
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the Lucky Break Wishbone is a must for some holiday good times. How many arguments have there been over who’s going to get to be one of the lucky wishbone holders? No need to squabble anymore because this revolutionary plastic technology allows the bone to break just like a real one, at random. It took hours of research & development, and hundreds of fractures, for that satisfying bone snap to finally be replicated. You can buy a “Fun Pack” of 4 for $3.99 or for those really big family get-togethers a “Universal Pack” of 400 for $195.99.
11. The Million Dollar Home Page
A British college student who needed a way to pay for his tuition came up with the idea of the Million Dollar Home Page. How it worked was the home page was made up of a million pixels in a 1000 x 1000 grid. Sold in 10 x 10 blocks, for one dollar per pixel you could buy an image based link. The buyer would provide the image and when you moved the cursor over it, a slogan would appear and it would go to any URL you wanted it to. All the pixels were sold making him a millionaire. Sadly the site today has about a 37% link rot.
Every kid loves Santa and with Christmas fast approaching here’s a gift for $10. that your kids will love. A personalized letter from Santa with a real postmark and stamp from the North Pole. Since 2001 Byron Reese has sent out over 200,000 Santa letters making him a multi-millionaire. Warm childhood memories of his letters being answered by Santa (really his parents), and in honor of his mother who passed away several years ago, Byron started SantaMail.org. Since then he has expanded his marketing strategy and now offers parents the opportunity to purchase birthday cards for their kids from Santa.
Launched in 2000 from her apartment, Sara Blakely’s creation Spanx is underwear that’s main focus is to make people look thinner than they really are. Until 2010 Spanx just made underwear for women, but since then has added a men’s line for that same purpose. With her initial life savings investment of $5,000. Blakely even went so far as to change into her Spanx underwear in front of a buyer to prove that her product worked. Selling to high-end companies like Neiman Marcus, Saks, Bloomingdales and Bergdorf Goodman, Blakely’s net worth today is 1.16 billion dollars (not too flabby, I mean shabby).
8. Dog Wigs
Pet accessories are a multi-million dollar industry today because most pet owners have a tendency to go a bit overboard when it comes to their love for man’s best friend. Leah Workman’s successful brand of dogs wigs (Cushzilla.com) was inspired by a trip she took to Japan. Because what wouldn’t complete a dog’s look but a head full of stylish fake hair? From neon mohawks and rainbow pigtails to celebrity doo’s, it just really takes Fido to the next level, and for only $39. The company likes to think the wigs will be used for more than just Halloween, like for family portraits and facebook posts.
7. The Snuggie
In the late 2000’s, the Snuggie which is literally just a blanket with arms was invented and thus the Snuggie phenomenon began. From fall 2008 until Christmas 2009 an unbelievable 20 million Snuggies were purchased by Americans for around $20. In recent years the fad started to die down a bit so the company was forced to reinvent itself and so they did. Today Snuggies have morphed into mermaid, shark, dolphin and even whale ‘Tails’ aiming their sight at children. Today you can see Snuggies at their best during the infamous ‘Snuggie pub crawls’ where drunks stumble from pub to pub donning Snuggies. What a sight it would be to see bar hoppers wearing their ‘tale’ Snuggie literally like a fish out of water.
Allermates are cute bracelets worn by children with allergies. A stay-at-home mom came up with the idea when she discovered her son was allergic to nuts. She created these bracelets to stop parents from worrying about their children and to keep them out of danger. Each bracelet costs around $8. and has a cartoon character on it describing that particular allergy. For kids with peanut allergies, there is P. Nutty. And of course Professor Wheatly for those who can’t eat gluten or wheat. Allermates also makes many other kinds of items a child can carry with them like necklaces, lunch bags and dog tags.
5. Pillow Pets
Simply put, it’s a stuffed animal that can be folded and made into a pillow. After seeing her son use his really flattened out stuffed animal as a pillow Telfer came up with the idea and it was a big success. She created a toy company that now sells these plush, folding, high-quality Pillow Pets for the sole purpose, “To bring smiles to faces of all ages by offering friendship, love and loyalty as well as providing a comfy, snuggly place to rest your head at night!”. She has really gotten creative by adding a line of ‘Sweet Scented Pets’ like Milkshake Cow, Bubble Gum Piggy and Cotton Candy Unicorn all for around $20.
4. The Wacky Wall Walker
Purchasing the rights from a toymaker in Japan in 1983 for $5,000., Ken Kakuta saw the sales potential in the Wacky Wall Walker. The octopus-shaped sticky elastomer toy starts to ‘walk’ it’s way down a wall after it gets thrown up against it. Ken’s mom gave him one as a gift for his children, but he became fascinated with it immediately. Sales were very slow until The Washington Post wrote a feature article about it and then it just took off earning Ken around 80 million dollars in a few months. You can get one free inside a cereal box or can buy one on Amazon for about $6 bucks but I think I just get myself a fidget spinner instead.
With a name that best describes a bad accident, you wouldn’t expect it to help you get rid of headaches, but that’s what it is supposed to do. Unlike the more common headache medicines, HeadOn (made mostly of wax) has no scientific backing whatsoever to prove it’s effective in any way. That did not stop people from buying more than 6 million tubes of it for $8 each. Sales were probably attributed mostly to the irritating commercial that went viral. The tagline, obnoxiously stating three times in a row, “HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead”, and never even saying what the purpose of the product was.
Icanhascheezburger.com (ICHC) is a monetized blog style website created by Eric Nakagawa in 2007. He got the idea when he posted an image of a smiling cat known as “Happycat”, taken from a comedy website page, and put a caption over his head reading “I can has cheezburger?”. And that’s how the site got its name. At its peak, the popular site got around 1,500,000 hits per day. Just seven months later, a group of investors bought the website for $2 million dollars. Since day one the company has made money by selling web advertising and licensing fees, and merchandise sales.
1. The Trunki
Created in 2006, at a price of $50, The Trunki is a piece of luggage that your child can ride-on and carry. After being featured on the TV series Dragon’s Den in the UK, the product just took off. After winning more than one hundred design and product awards, the Trunki is still going strong. Celebrating its 10 year anniversary by selling more than 3,000,000 suitcases worldwide, the Trunki has branched into other successful product lines like the BoostApak which is a booster seat that doubles as a backpack. The popular BoostApak was featured on BBC’s The Apprentice in 2011 and sales quadrupled.
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