Here are 12 of the dumbest business ideas of all time
Here are 12 of the dumbest business ideas of all time, which actually made millions:
1. The Pet Rock. This has to have been one of the dumbest ideas ever, yet it took off like
nobody could have imagined. Selling for around $4 per rock, small rocks were sold in
cardboard pet carriers, leaving the company founder to have the last laugh as he carried
millions off to the bank.
In April 1975, Gary Dahl was in a bar (which is now Beauregard Vineyards Tasting room
in Bonny Doon) listening to his friends complain about their pets. This gave him the idea
for the perfect "pet": a rock.
A rock would not need to be fed, walked, bathed, or
groomed; and would not die, become sick, or be disobedient. He said they were to be
the perfect pets, and joked about it with his friends.
Dahl took the idea seriously, and
drafted an "instruction manual" for a pet rock. It was full of puns, gags and plays on
words that referred to the rock as an actual pet.
Pet Rocks were a smooth stone from Mexico's Rosarito Beach.
They were marketed
like live pets, in custom cardboard boxes,
complete with straw and breathing holes for
The fad lasted about six months, ending after a short increase in sales
during the Christmas season of December 1975. Although by February 1976 they were
discounted due to lower sales, Dahl sold 1.5 million Pet Rocks for $4,
and became a
2. Flowbee. A vacuum haircut. Really? Come on, you know someone was playing around
with the vacuum attachments and got hooked, literally!
The Flowbee is an electrically powered vacuum cleaner attachment made for cutting
hair. It was developed and filed for patent in 1986
by Rick E. Hunts, a San
Diego, California carpenter. US patent 4679322 was granted in 1987
and the product
marketed since 1988. Hunt initially sold the Flowbees out of his garage before finding
success with live demonstrations at a county fair. The product was advertised as being
capable of performing "hundreds of precision layered haircuts" in frequently aired late-
By 2000, two million Flowbees had been sold.
3. Mood rings. Need confirmation about what type of mood someone is in? The mood ring
had it covered, when it became a fad in the 1970s. The ring’s stone was made of
materials that would change color according to the body heat it came in contact with.
A mood ring is a ring that contains a thermochromic element, such as liquid crystal that
changed colors based upon the temperature of the finger of the wearer. The ring
included a color chart indicating the supposed mood of the wearer based upon the
colors indicated on the ring.
The mood ring was created in 1975 by two New York inventors, Josh Reynolds and Maris
Ambats, who bonded liquid crystals with quartz stones set into rings.
retailed for $45 for a "silvery setting" and $250 for gold, and first sold at Bonwit
rapidly becoming a fad in the 1970s.
4. Snuggie. Being wrapped up in a blanket on the couch on a cold winter’s day wasn’t good
enough. No, we needed it to have sleeves! Turns out the creator had an idea that got 25
million people to purchase blankets. Twenty-five million!
5. Chia Pet. This is that thing we all make fun of, yet purchase when we need a last-minute
gift for someone. We may laugh as we make the purchase, but millions have been sold,
over the years.
6. The Million Dollar Homepage. Selling an online homepage filled with 1 million pixels at
a dollar per pixel seems like a crazy and un-doable idea. But it was done. One single
homepage has generated the person behind the idea a cool million bucks, with basically
zero overhead to boot.
7. The Clapper. Clap your hands and a light goes on and off? Yes, it seems nuts to me, too,
but millions of people have purchased them.
The Clapper is a sound activated electrical switch,
sold by San Francisco,
California based Joseph Enterprises, Inc. Robert E. Clapper, Sr. & Richard J. Pirong and
marketed with the slogan "Clap On!" and as a separate phrase "Clap Off!".
works with any American standard electrical outlet.
8. Santa Mail. Just having kids write to Santa wasn’t enough. Some brilliant entrepreneurs
decided that, for around $10, they would write back, posing as the man in red himself.
With hundreds of thousands of parents taking part each year, these letters are making a
9. Doggles. For centuries, dogs got around just fine without sunglasses. But now, for $20,
your dog can have their very own outdoor eyewear.
Doggles were invented by Roni Di Lullo after she noticed her dog, Midknight, squinting
in the sunlight. Experiments were made with human sunglasses and sports goggles
before a pair was developed to fit the shape of a dog's head.
They are now produced
by the Doggles Company in Diamond Springs, California.
Despite being listed as one of the "most useless inventions ever" by the Daily
Doggles were ranked #6 in a list of "10 ideas that shouldn’t have worked - but
made millions" by MSN Money,
and by 2004, were being sold in 4,500 shops in 16
and now include the option of prescription lenses.
10. The fake foot. Ever been driving down the road and see one of those fake feet hanging
out of the trunk of the car in front of you? Yup, someone paid for that—about $10—
helping to make someone else crazy rich.
11. The Whoopee cushion. This is one that has stood the test of time. This practical joke is
known from sea to sea, and has been selling non-stop since first hitting the mass
market in the 1930s.
A whoopee cushion, also known as a farting bag, windy blaster, poo-poo
cushion, turbulent bumbag and Razzberry Cushion, is apractical joke
device involving flatulence humour, which produces a noise resembling a "raspberry" or
human flatulence. It is made from two sheets of rubber that are glued together at the
edges. There is a small opening with a flap at one end for air to enter and leave the
To use it, one must first inflate it with air, then place it on a chair or squeeze it. Some
whoopee cushions can be self-inflating. If placed on a chair, an unsuspecting victim will
sit on the whoopee cushion, forcing the air out of the opening, which causes the flap to
vibrate and create a loud, flatulence-like sound.
History and modern usage
Although a form of whoopee cushion was known in ancient Rome,
the modern version
was re-invented in the 1920s by the JEM Rubber Co. of Toronto, Canada, by employees
who were experimenting with scrap sheets of rubber.
The owner of the company
approached Samuel Sorenson Adams, the inventor of numerous practical jokes and
owner of S.S. Adams Co., with the newly invented item. Adams said that the item was
"too vulgar" and would never sell. JEM Rubber offered the idea to the Johnson Smith
Company which sold it with great success. S.S. Adams Co. later released its own version,
but called it the "Razzberry Cushion."
12. Antenna Balls. Next time you drive down the highway, check out how many antenna's
have balls attached to the end of them. From smiley faces, to mini-basketballs and
baseballs, these things adorn countless antennas. The founder got the idea from SUV
drivers who put tennis balls on their antenna to protect it from snapping around when
entering garages. Now, this entrepreneur is making millions.