Sales & Marketing

10 downright crazy business ideas that worked

5 min read

15 January 2013

Goggles for dogs? Being chased by zombies? Pet rocks? Ideas that, believe it or not, made millions...

These past few years, even though unemployment rates were high and the odds of business failure within the first five years was over 50 per cent, people got creative.

Consumers are always looking for something new, and the stranger the idea, the more heads are turned.

Here are ten previously deemed crazy ideas that got consumers hungry for more:

 1. Ashleymadison.com

A dating website is nothing new, but ashleymadison.com has one unique difference: it is marketed towards those already in a committed relationship. “Life is short. Have an affair” is the site’s slogan and its founder, Noel Biderman, is a happily married man. Although the site has drawn heavy criticism, no one can deny that the business venture is a huge success, receiving roughly 1,800,00 visitors per month.

2. Doggles

Taking dog accessories to the next level, founder Jill Doyle makes eyewear – more specifically goggles for dogs. After creating a product with practical value – UV protection – the company, Doggles, rakes in $5,000,000 per year.

3. Excused absence network

Somewhere in a small town, the founder runs his business off a laptop. Need an excuse letters to miss work or school? Go to the excused absence network. These notes appear as authentic-looking doctor’s notes, jury summons, and so on. The site gets 15,000 hits a month, at $25 per excuse note.

4. LuckyBreak

It started with a man frustrated that only two people could make a wish around the Thanksgiving table. Ken Ahroni created a company that would create plastic wishbones, replicating the feel of dried bone: LuckyBreak. The company makes 30,000 wishbones a day, including custom-designed and personal wishbones. Their sales? Over $2.5m per year.

5. The million dollar homepage

From the simple idea of selling pixels of a 1,000×1,000 grid for $1 each, the project attracted people like flies. Through the million dollar homepage, Alex Tew, from Wiltshire, planned to get through university studies by making a million dollars. This internet phenomenon ended up earning him $1,037,100 in a matter of months.

6. Pet rocks

After a night out in a bar listening to friends complain about their pets, Gary Dahl joked about preferring to keep a rock. He later implemented his idea, and although this craze died quickly, he earned $15,000,000 within six months. 

7. Run for your lives

This company puts running faster when scared to the test. Run for your lives is a first-of-its-kind five k obstacle course race where contestants are chased by zombies, created by Reed Street Productions. Runners pay $57-87 to be chased, $50+ to chase runners as a living dead zombie and spectators can enjoy the mayhem for $22+.

8. Santa Mail

Starting in Alaska, 1949, Con Miller decided to live close to a trading post, funnily enough, called the North Pole. After having been mistaken for Santa, Con started calling his house the “Santa house”. Becoming a christmas shop and family business, Santa Mail sends personalized letters to children from the “North Pole”. More than 315,000 letters were sent since 2002.

9. Super Jam

Fraser Doherty sold jam made from his grandmother’s recipe. Starting with clientele from church the product became a hit, and two years later, he was approached by waitrose to sell SuperJam in their stores. SuperJam sells around 500,000 jars a year and makes up ten per cent of the UK jam market.

10. Wuvit

From the realisation that corn sewed in cloth would create a relaxing pillow after being put in the microwave, Wuvit was born. When local parent’s started asking for these specific pillows to help their kids sleep, now millionaire Kim Levine put the opportunity to the test and went to local retailers. The idea was a huge success.

Strange, yet brilliant, there will always be someone willing to try your product. Get wacky! Inspire and, with some caution to the wind, turn your mad idea into millions.

Goggles for dogs and pet rocks not crazy enough for you? Then what about toilet training kits for cats and vacuum cleaners that cut hair in the wacky sequel