5 Crazy Ideas That Resulted in Million-Dollar Paydays

Photo (cc) by Digital Magic Photography

From time to time, I enjoy reading some of the interesting and often inspiring stories in Dmitry Davydov’s blog Uncommon Business. It features people who make money online selling unusual, strange, and sometimes bizarre things or providing curious services.

For example, in the past, Dmitry has featured stories on businesses that cater to neo-survivalists looking to outlast the end of the civilized world, as well as a relatively new company out of Norwell, Mass., that’s in the business of only financing weddings.

Don’t laugh. Sometimes, these odd businesses end up earning their owners millions of dollars in a short time. In fact, at a companion site of his called MadConomist, Dmitry has highlighted 10 particularly nutty – but very profitable – business ideas that resulted in million-dollar paydays for the proprietors. Here are five of my favorites from that list…

1. Million Dollar Homepage

Back in the summer of 2005, 21-year-old Alex Tew had a really crazy business idea: establish a website homepage and sell 1 million pixels at one dollar a pop. I mean, who would pay somebody a buck to own one tiny pixel on Tew’s website homepage? Answer: Enough people to make Tew a millionaire in less than five months.

How did he come up with the idea? According to Tew: “After an hour or two of jotting random things on paper, the idea seemingly popped out of nowhere. Almost like my subconscious mind had been ticking over in the background, working it all out. So it just kind of happened. That’s about it. I scribbled it down and within about 10 minutes a picture of what needed to be done had emerged.”

I hate you, Alex.

2. AntennaBalls

Back in the summer of 1997, Jason Wall saw a Jack In The Box fast-food commercial that said the company had sold more than 3 million antenna balls. That’s when Wall decided to try and come up with a few designs of his own. His designs quickly caught on and before he knew it he had penetrated the auto accessory and novelty industries.

Wall originally used gas stations to sell more than 4 million of his creations. Today, his antenna balls are sold nationwide at retail stores, including Walmart, 7-Eleven, Circle-K, Walgreens, and Hot Topic. You can also get them online at a website called – what else? – HappyBalls.

In retrospect, it all seems so obvious. After all, who doesn’t like happy balls?

3. FitDeck

Former Navy SEAL and fitness instructor Phil Black had a rather wacky idea: create a unique deck of 56 playing cards containing illustrations and instructions describing more than 50 different exercises, stretches, and movements without the need for special equipment – and then sell them for $19 a pop.

Laugh all you want, but Black reported sales of $4.7 million in 2006. The cards are reportedly still selling like hotcakes, albeit at the reduced price of $14.95.

4. Lucky Break Wishbone Co.

“Why, at traditional Thanksgiving meals, when there is a bounty of food, is there but one lonely wishbone?” asks Ken Ahroni, president and founder of the Lucky Break Wishbone Company. According to Ken, “There had to be a better way!”

Not long after the start of the new millennium, Ken invented a mass-producible plastic wishbone so “everybody, including vegetarians, could have a chance to make a wish” during Thanksgiving.

A pack of 10 plastic bones runs $8.49.

I bet you wish you thought of that idea before Ken did. I know I do.

5. Doggles

Who would have ever guessed that making and selling protective goggles for dogs would be a money-making venture? I still ain’t buying it, but it doesn’t matter what I think. Just ask the millionaire-next-door owners who were smart enough to think of the idea.

The dog glasses can be found for under $20. No word on whether their research and development department is currently working on doggie contact lenses. Heh.

Hmm. Hey, do ya think maybe, just maybe

I know. That’s just plain crazy.

Forget I even brought it up.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Secret Perks of Individual Retirement Accounts
7 Secret Perks of Individual Retirement Accounts

IRAs come with bells and whistles that many other accounts lack — including some perks you may not know exist.

10 Things That Really Are Free on Amazon
10 Things That Really Are Free on Amazon

These freebies are available to anyone — no Prime membership necessary.

How to Fix 6 Common Retirement Mistakes
How to Fix 6 Common Retirement Mistakes

Here’s how to strengthen your nest egg before or even during your golden years so these missteps don’t ruin your retirement.

How to Invest in Real Estate for as Little as $500
How to Invest in Real Estate for as Little as $500

If stock market volatility has you looking for other investment options, here’s a way to diversify — even if you don’t have tons of money.

21 Thrift Store Gems You Can Cash In On
21 Thrift Store Gems You Can Cash In On

Here’s what to look for at that overstuffed thrift store — and how you can make money from it.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value
7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value

You can add value to your home without hiring a contractor to do expensive renovations.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.