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Everyone has million dollar ideas, but people rarely act on them.


For entrepreneurs, one good idea can provide an extraordinary amount of hope.  Even though the chances of success are minimal, these ideas give people something to aspire to greater than a boring cubicle and a nagging boss. Not to mention, these ideas make some people obscenely loaded.


If you're waiting to act on one of these ideas until you think of something brilliant, don't.  In fact, you might want to dumb yourself down a notch.  With the’s of the world getting acquired for $2MM, it doesn’t take something uniquely awesome to rake in the dough.



Pet Rock





Ridiculously Rich Person Behind It: Gary Dahl

暴发户:加里·达尔(Gary Dahl)

Estimated Profit: $15M in just the first six months


The idea of selling a rock is about as ridiculous as it gets. But one man figured out how to sell them and make millions in just a few short months.


Dahl, a former advertising executive, sold his rocks for $3.95 on a bed of hay. Each sale earned him a profit of roughly $3.


He sold the rocks as "hassle-free" pets, complete with a pet training manual and a card board box fashioned after a pet carrier. The rocks were an instant hit and turned into one of the greatest fads of all time.


Yellow Smiley Faces





Ridiculously Rich People Behind It: Bernard and Murray Spain

暴发户:伯纳德和穆雷(Bernard and Murray Spain)

Estimated Profit: $500MM


You order takeout and the deliveryman leaves you with  white plastic bag.  On the exterior is a goofy yellow smiley face grinning back at you, encouraging you to “Have A Nice Day!”  You take your food and plop in front of the television to find the same stupid smiley rolling down the isles of a Wal-mart ad, bringing customers shopping cheer as they peruse the super store.


Now imagine your father is the one who first drew this world-renown image.  Imagine further how upset you would be if your father never trademarked his image, and only made a measly $45 from the icon.  This is the story of Charlie Ball’s life.

现在,想象一下你的父亲是第一个画这个世界知名笑脸的人。再想象一下,如果你的父亲从来没有把这个笑脸注册成商标,而只赚了区区45美元的设计费,你会怎么想?这就是查理比尔(Charlie Ball)的真实故事。

Back in 1963 his father, Harvey, first drew the happy face for his PR company’s client, State Mutual Life Insurance.  The only money the Ball’s ever made from the simple sketch was the two-figure dollar amount they made selling it to the client.


So who did make all that money off the brilliantly simple symbol? Two brothers, Bernard and Murray Spain, stumbled upon the unrealized potential of the smiley. Wanting to start a novelty store, Bernard and Murray bought the legal rights to the mark along with the now infamous tag-line,“Have a nice day.”  The brothers began slapping the image on everything possible.  The yellow smiley swept the nation and soon, the world. The fad peaked in 1971 and diminished after a year and a half, but that was enough time to do a lot of damage—50 million in sales worth of damage.

那么谁因为这个简单的标志而成了百万富翁呢?伯纳德和穆雷西班牙(Bernard and Murray Spain)这对兄弟,是他们不经意间发现了这张笑脸的未来市场潜力。当时兄弟俩想开一家奇特商品商店,于是购买了这个笑脸的商标合法权,包括那句用滥了的口号“天天有个好心情”。兄弟俩人开始把商标用在所有商品上,很快,黄色的笑脸风靡全国,接着受到了全世界的追捧。这股风潮在1971年达到顶峰,1年半后销售量下滑,损失的销售额达5000万美元,但是之前赚的钱能足以抵消这些损失。

The Spain’s opened the first Dollar Express in the ‘80s where they continued to sell the smiley.  In 2000, they sold their chain to Dollar Tree for $500 million.

80年代,穆雷一家开了第一家一元店(Dollar Express),继续销售他们印着笑脸的商品。2000年,他们将连锁店以5亿美元的价格卖给了美元树(Dollar Express)。

And what of Harvey Ball? He became a yellow smiley-based philanthropist.  What else would you do if you let a gazillionaire-dollar idea slip through your fingers?


iFart App



iFart App


Ridiculously Rich Person Behind It: Joel Comm

暴发户:乔·康(Joel Comm)

Estimated Profit: $400K


Here's a half-assed, half-a-million dollar idea for you.  Somewhere, in Joel Comm’s sordid mind, out squeaked the iFart, the whoopee cushion for the iPhone.  What’s even crazier? He thought people would pay for the app.  iFart retails for $.99.  And, the absolutely insane part about this all? Joel Comm was right.

这个想法对你来说有点不靠谱。在乔·康(Joel Comm)肮脏的脑袋里,突然想为iPhone手机设计一个放屁垫应用程序。更疯狂的是,他认为人们会购买这个应用程序。iFart放屁应用程序的零售价是99美分。绝对让人发疯的是,乔·康(Joel Comm)竟然赚了大钱。

Hate on it all you want, Joel Comm gets the last laugh.  His application has been buzzed about all over the media and pranksters everywhere love the 26 flatulent noises it encompasses, including “Record-A-Fart,” “Fart-a-Friend,” and “Sneak Attack.” The app was downloaded 113,885 during its first two weeks on the market.  To quote Jimmy Kimmel, “If everyone in America gives as much as they spent on the iFart App, Haiti will be saved.” When I asked Joel how much his app made to date, he told me there were more than 600,000 downloads, netting him and his company InfoMedia somewhere in the ballpark of $400K.

你怎么讨厌这个程序都行,但乔·康(Joel Comm)是笑到最后的人。该程序引起了媒体的争相报道,各个地方爱搞恶作剧的人爱死了它附带的那26个胀气的声音,比如“屁声录音”,“给朋友放个屁”和“偷袭放屁”。该程序投放到市场的头两周内下载次数达到了11万3885次。用乔·康(Joel Comm)的话讲,“如果每个美国人都来玩iFart放屁应用程序,那么海地就有救了。”我问乔到目前为止他的应用程序赚了多少钱,他告诉我程序的下载次数超过了60万次,这让他和他的公司信息媒体(InfoMedia)净赚大概40万美元。

Wacky Wall Walker





Ridiculously Rich Person Behind It: Ken Hakuta

暴发户:肯哈谷达(Ken Hakuta)

Estimated Profit: $80MM


Ken Hakuta should give his mom an extra big hug and kiss for giving him his million dollar idea.  She sent him the nation’s first known Wacky Wall Walker as a gift from China.  Fascinated by the gewy toy that appears to walk down the walls it’s thrown against, Hakuta bought the rights for $100,000 and began marketing it in the D.C. area.

肯哈谷达(Ken Hakuta)应该额外给他的妈妈一个热烈的拥抱和亲吻,因为是她让自己的儿子成了百万富翁。当年她从中国带给肯哈一个礼物,这个荒诞的爬墙玩具在美国是第一次看到。肯哈完全被这个古怪的玩具迷住了,把它扔到墙上竟然还能沿着墙爬下来。谷达花了10万美元买下了玩具的专利,随后开始在华盛顿地区推销。

Sales crawled along until a reporter for The Washington Post stumbled upon his product and wrote about it.  The buzz from the article began one of the greatest marketing fads of all time.  Within just a few months, more than 240 million were sold, netting Ken about $80 million.






Ridiculously Wealthy People Behind It: Eric Nakagawa (aka Cheezburger) and Kari Unebasami (aka Tofu burger)

暴发户:埃里克中川(Eric Nakagawa),别名:芝士汉堡。卡里(Kari Unebasami),别名:豆腐汉堡

Estimated Profit: $2MM


The concept of creating ridiculous captions for absurd animal photos began with a photo of one very fat cat and ended with Eric and Kari becoming millionaires.  Their original goal? To share the chubby tubby image pictured here (which jolted the pair into an alleged 73 minute laughing fit) with as many people who cared to see.  The domain name came from the caption they wrote for the feline, “I can has cheezburger?”  A series of follow up photos about the fat cat obtaining a cheezburger followed, and soon fans began submitting their own creations.


The site now receives more than 35MM hits per month and 8,000 daily submissions.  In 2007, Tofu burger and Cheezburger sold the site for $2MM to now CEO, Ben Huh.  Ben has created six sister sites, landed a book deal that was a New York Times Best Seller, and the company makes an estimated half a million from book sales alone.

目前网站每月的点击率是3500万次,每天的订阅人数是8000人。在2007年,豆腐汉堡和芝士汉堡将该网站以200万美元的价格出售给了现在的CEO本·哈尔(Ben Huh)。本又制作了6个姊妹网站,并将网站内容做成了一本书,结果在纽约时报的畅销书榜单上荣登榜首,只是书的销售收入,公司就赚了大约有50万美元。






Ridiculously Rich Person Behind It: Richard James

暴发户:理查德·詹姆斯(Richard James)

Estimated Profit: $250MM


Naval engineer Richard James’ flash of brilliance was spawned by clumsiness. He dropped a tension spring he was working with and watched it slink away across the floor.  And thus the Slinky was born.

理查德·詹姆斯(Richard James) 出身于海军工程师,他的这个灵光一现的发明源于他的笨拙。他工作时,一个张力弹簧掉在了地上,他就看着弹簧在地板上滑动。就这样机灵鬼玩具诞生了。

In 1945, James debuted the toy at a Gimbals in Philadelphia.  He was so nervous about the presentation that he convinced a friend to come and stage the first Slinky sale.  His nerves were completely unwarranted because the first 400 sold out within 90 minutes.  A quarter of a billion in sales later, the $1 toy and its creator lived very comfortably ever after.  Well, sort of.


There were some rough patches in there-- like when Richard had a mid-life crisis, left his wife, Betty, and joined a cult.  But Betty chugged along with the company, saved it from debts ensued by her crazy husband, and sold the product to Poof Toys in 1998.  But, it’s safe to say she made out alright.

但他也有处境艰难的时候。理查德遇到了中年危机,他撇下妻子贝蒂加入了一个邪教组织。但是他的妻子继续艰难地经营着公司,她那疯狂的丈夫留下了很多债务,在她的经营下公司总算起死回生。贝蒂在1998年把公司卖给了噗玩具(Poof Toys),可以说她卖了个好价钱






Ridiculously Rich Person Behind It: Scott Boilen, President of Allstar Products

暴发户:全明星产品公司(Allstar Products)总裁斯科特鲍伦

Estimated Profit: $200MM


It’s as simple as putting on a bathrobe backwards and an idea so ridiculous it isn’t patentable.  But the Snuggie, which sold 20 million items in its first year, is no laughing matter.  How did the silly two for $19.95 blanket with sleeves shove aside its Slanket and Freedom Blanket predecessors?  Some think the “cult of Snuggie” came to be through an abundance of advertising. $10 million worth of infomercials in a down economy will do the trick.

这件服装的设计超级简单,就像前后颠倒穿反了的浴袍,这种东西穿上会非常可笑,不可能获得专利。但是这种麻袋片在第一年上市后就售出了2000万件,这可不是说着玩的。两块破毯子一共价值19.95美元,沿着边缝了两个袖子,这种产品是如何超过它的前辈自由毛毯(Freedom Blanket)的呢?有些人认为这种对麻袋片的狂热追棒是铺天盖地的广告效应。那么,在经济低迷时期,1000万美元的商业广告能达到这个效果也非常不错。

But humor is the selling strategy that made the Snuggie a star.  Bottom line: if a product is ridiculous, it should be sold in the funniest way possible.  The ads, which featured a Snuggie-clad family roasting marshmallows together and cheering at sports games, quickly became media sensations.  Jay Leno, Whoopie Goldberg and Ellen DeGeneres all featured the product on their shows.  The buzz has led to Snuggie pub crawls, YouTube Snuggie mockery clips and a lot of gag gifts. I received a text from a friend just before Christmas, “Tell me what you want, otherwise you’re getting a leopard print Snuggie.”

但是,销售战略中的幽默是让麻袋片风靡的关键。电视广告屏幕下方写着:如果一个产品看起来很可笑,那么就应该选择一种最有趣的方式来销售它。广告内容包括全家披着麻袋片烤棉花糖或者全家一起为喜欢的体育比赛加油,这些广告很快走红。杰?雷诺(Jay Leno)、乌比·戈德堡(Whoopi Goldberg)和艾伦·德杰尼勒斯(Ellen Degeneres)分别在他们的节目上为这个麻袋片做了专题节目。铺天盖地的媒体报道让夜店族披上了麻袋片,YouTube网站上随处可见该产品的搞笑视频短片,还有很多恶作剧礼品。我刚好在圣诞节前收到了一位朋友的短消息,“告诉我你想要什么礼物,要不你收到的将是一个印有豹纹的麻袋片。”

And of course there’s its cutesy name that makes it sound more like a stuffed animal than quasi-apparel.  Whatever the magic marketing recipe is, creator Scott Boilen is rolling in a few hundred million. By our math, it’s about $200MM to be exact (20,000,000 Snuggies sold x $19.95/2 items = a Truckload).

当然,不管是什么样的销售秘籍,发明人斯科特鲍伦赚大了。我们算了算,他大概赚了2亿美元(售出200万个麻袋片X19.95美元每2件=1卡车的钱 )

Million-Dollar Home Page





Ridiculously Rich Person Behind The Idea: Alex Tew

暴发户:亚历克斯·图(Alex Tew)

Estimated Profit: $1MM


This story has been beat to a pulp, but it’s so ridiculous it’s worth noting.  A 21-year-old British kid created a home page and sold 1MM pixels each for $1.  Furthermore, he had a sob story to warm the public’s heart: trying to pay his way through undergrad.  Advertisers ate up the charity case boy who shamelessly proclaims on his site: “I am a pixel hustler and proud!”  The site sold-out its pixels in a little over one year.


Beanie Babies





Ridiculously Rich Person Behind It: H Ty Warner

暴发户:H Ty 华纳

Estimated Profit: $3-6 Billion


Fill a sack with beans, give it furry ears, and name it something cute like Patti the Platypus or Splash the Whale. The result? A toy empire bigger than Hasbro and Mattel combined—Beanie Babies.  While many initially scoffed at Ty’s under-stuffed animals and referred to them as ‘roadkill,’ the haters were quickly hushed when 30,000 were sold at the first toy show in Atlanta.

用豆子装满袋子,再给袋子装两只毛茸茸的耳朵,然后给它起个可爱的名字,比如:帕蒂鸭嘴兽或飞溅的鲸鱼。结果怎么样呢?这个玩具帝国豆豆宝宝比孩之宝(Hasbro)和美泰玩具 (Mattel )的规模加起来还要大。开始有很多人都嘲笑Ty的玩具瘪瘪的没有内容,戏称他们是“马路杀手”,但在亚特兰大的首次玩具展销会上售出3万个玩具后,这些人很快就闭嘴了。

The way Ty Warner built his empire is remarkable.  He never advertised his products or sold them in major chain stores, like Toys-R-Us.  This made the toys harder to obtain and thus more desirable.  In addition, Ty  would retire certain models after the initial stock-run had sold out, making the few that existed prized possessions.


Call it a scam, but Ty’s line of collectibles created the most insane fad frenzy of all time, and he now sits on billions.


2011-03-29 16:12 编辑:kuaileyingyu