7 Ridiculous-Sounding Ideas That Made People Super Rich
Far-out ideas that helped people quit their day jobs.
How do you get super rich? Making it big in business doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel. In fact, some of the greatest ideas sounded downright ridiculous when they were first introduced. On Oxygen's upcoming docuseries, Quit Your Day Job (premiering Wed., March 30 at 10/9c), a team of investors gives ideas—even outrageously, far-fetched ones—the chance to be funded. Get inspired with these ridiculous-sounding ideas that made people super rich.
1. Super-Soaker Water Gun
When engineer Lonnie Johnson put together a prototype of PVC pipe, acrylic glass, and an empty plastic soda bottle in 1982, little did we know that his Super Soaker water gun would one day generate some $1 billion in sales. Pretty much every '80s and '90s kid grew up with a Super Soaker—and that includes King of Pop Michael Jackson.
2. George Forman Grill
If you ask some people, the best (and most healthy) way to cook a hamburger is squished between two grill plates. The George Forman Grill changed the way America cooked. The grill was invented by Michael Boehm in the early '90s but it didn't take off until former heavyweight champion George Foreman promoted it over and over and over again on infomercials. The George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine has sold over 100 million units worldwide. That's a lot of lean burgers.
3. Pet Rock
Sometimes the invention itself isn't important, it's the packaging. When Gary Dahl thought up the idea of a pet rock in 1975—basically a rock in a cute cardboard box—he himself thought it was a joke. The idea of a pet that never needed to be fed, walked, bathed, or groomed resonated with lazy people. A ridiculous fad was born.
Serendipity can lead to a million-dollar idea. When naval engineer Richard James dropped a tension spring he was working with, he saw the way it slinked across the floor. The Slinky was born. In 1945, the toy was debuted in color plastic and different sizes. This clumsiness would lead to legions of tangled Slinkies and frustrated kids--and over 350 million sold.
Who doesn't want to be snuggly and comfortable? In 2009, some guys cut two holes into a sheet and created the Snuggie. Part poncho, part pajamas, the Snuggie went on to cult-like status with sports fans and couch potatoes alike. In its first year alone, the Snuggie—which some people still think is a joke—sold over four million units. What's even crazier, the Slanket, which predated the Snuggie by a few years was also a million-dollar seller.
6. Beanie Babies
Ty Warner had no experience in the toy industry when he created ugly little stuffed animals with names like Splash the Whale in 1993. His toy, Beanie Babies, became instant collector's items and went on to sell billions in the '90s. By keeping the Beanie Babies limited in quantity, he created insane demand for collectors. Even today, exclusive toys like the Princess Diana Bear are being sold for hundreds or thousands online.
7. Big Mouth Billy Bass
There's no prouder moment than going on a fishing trip and admiring your catch. But what happens if you don't want to actually do the hard fishing part—and if you happen to also love classic songs? The Big Mouth Billy Bass of the early 2000s was the solution. This plastic bass was mounted on a wooden frame and came to life; wiggling around and signing songs like "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby Mcferrin, and "Take Me To The River" by Al Green. Creepy fun for the whole family.
Four investors turn big ideas into big business on Oxygen’s new docuseries, Quit Your Day Job, premiering Wed., March 30 at 10/9c.