Have a crazy idea? It might just make you filthy rich! Some of the most amazing things we have today started from crazy ideas. If you decide to move forward with your invention, be sure to keep your patents up to date. If you don’t, you may end up like Catherine Hettinger, who invented the fidget spinner. Because she didn’t update her patent, she lost out on making tons of money. But the inventions you’re about to see here made their creators of fortune. Here are some unlikely inventions that got people very rich!
1. Big Mouth Billy Bass
This is the go-to thing to buy if you need a white elephant gift for your office Christmas party. The big mouth Billy bass may seem like it would have crashed and burned in sales when it first debuted in 1999, but it became one of the biggest hits in the early 2000’S. The singing fish was invented by Joe Pelletieri after he went out with his wife, Barbara, in search of inspiration for the next big idea for his job. At the time, Pellettieri was the vice president of Texas based company, Gemmy industries. As they drove by a sporting goods store, Barbara noted that the bass in the logo looked like it was singing. Joe then brought the idea to Gemmy. After struggling with prototypes, the singing fish was finally released, and it became an overnight sensation. It became a big hit with not only sport fishing enthusiasts, but also with kids. The big mouth Billy bass sings two songs, “Take me to the river” and “Don’t worry, be happy.” The invention even appeared on an episode of “The Sopranos” and supposedly Elizabeth II owns one as well. How are these singing fishes made? The company keeps that info under lock and key.
Raise your hand if you have a furbaby and you’ve dressed them up in costumes and trendy threads! While it may seem silly, our pooches can get some benefit from human products. Roni Di Lullo noticed that her dog was squinting while playing Frisbee, and thought “Why shouldn’t dogs have sunglasses too?” So, she invented Doggles. Since traditional sunglasses wouldn’t stay on a dog’s head, she patented goggles that would get the job done. The goggles not only keep debris and wind out of a dog’s eyes, but they also provide UV protection and even help dogs with vision issues. Di Lullo took a shot and asked Petsmart how to submit a product. She sent a pair to the company, and they responded by ordering enough to stock all of their locations. In his first year, Doggles made $100,000 in sales. In the second year, it made $3 Million, and exploded in popularity. The United States Army even started buying Doggles for their military trained dogs stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The goggles kept the Sun and sand out of the dog’s eyes, making them an essential part of the soldier’s toolbox. Each year, millions of pairs of Doggles are sold, making Di Lullo more than financially stable for the rest of her life.
Admit it, when you first saw the Snuggie, you probably thought it was the most ridiculous product in the world. How can a blanket with two sleeves possibly become one of the most popular inventions we’ve ever seen? It all comes down to advertising. Before the Snuggie was even a glimmer in our minds, it actually had two predecessors the Slanket and another called the freedom blanket. But, neither took off like the Snuggie did. Scott Boilen, CEO of allstar marketing group, saw the blanket’s potential. Instead of taking the product seriously, the company made fun of the ridiculousness of the Snuggie in its advertising. Then, once the joke was made, everyone else picked up on it. Late night TV hosts mocked it, and hobbies like “Snuggie Pub Crawls” became popular. AllStar pretty much birthed a cult following with the product. The Snuggie has made over $200 Million, even if it is a knockoff of the other two products. But allstar doesn’t claim the Snuggie is an original invention, they just knew how to market it better. Today there are even Snuggies for kids and pets, which might go well with a pair of Doggles. Plus, different brands continue to partner with allstar for collaboration.
4. Koosh Ball
Some of the world’s greatest inventions are inspired by a need when there is nothing out there in the market to fulfill it. In 1986, Scott Stillinger was struggling to teach his two young children how to play catch. They had a hard time gripping the ball, oftentimes dropping it. So, Scott hit the drawing board and ended up creating a ball out of rubber bands with the strands surrounding the rubber Center. Scott felt so confident about the idea that he took it to his brother in law, Mark Button, who worked for Mattel. Scott and Mark, along with their wives, quit their jobs to create the company Oddzon Products Inc. To make the Koosh Ball. Why the name Koosh? It was named after the sound it made when caught. In 1988, the Koosh Ball hit stores in time for the holiday season, selling $50 Million balls in the initial run. Books, accessories, and more… All Koosh themed, sold like hot cakes off the shelves of toy stores. Despite mockery and criticism for the odd invention, the Koosh ball was making millions, averaging about $30 Million a year. In 1997, Oddzon Products Inc. Was bought out by Hasbro for $100 Million.
5. Plastic Wishbone
If you’re a past or present meat eater, then you probably know about the endless bickering that occurs every Thanksgiving over who gets the wishbone from the Turkey. We all want our wishes to come true, and societal habits have made us believe that a turkey bone can help bring those dreams into fruition. Since most families only get one turkey, your family was doomed to endure said bickering every year and probably continued to do so. In 1999, ken Ahroni came up with this idea after Thanksgiving landed on his birthday and he encountered endless arguing over who got the wishbone. He decided to come up with a fake wishbone that would break just like bone. Five years later, the idea became a reality when he invented the plastic wishbone as a way to end the holiday fighting. Even vegans and vegetarians could get a plastic wishbone without feeling guilty over an item derived from turkey bones! In order to spread his product, Ken started the lucky break Wishbone Corporation. Each year, the company makes millions of plastic wishbones made from a material that not only breaks like bone, but doesn’t shatter or make a mess. Not only does the company make millions of plastic wishbones, but they also make millions of dollars, lining Ken’s pocketbook quite nicely. Let’s take a break and reveal our quiz question! Who is credited for inventing the Swivel Chair? We’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t a recent invention. Keep with us for the Answer!
6. Billy-Bob Teeth
You have probably seen these teeth on Halloween, or other events where bad teeth are a part of the dress code. But have you consider that someone is rolling in the dough from inventing such an obnoxious thing? We’re in a society where perfect teeth are valued, which makes the success of Billy-Bob Teeth quite ironic. These messed up dentures are the brainchild of Jonah white and rich Bailey. The pair met at a Missouri State University football game where rich was trying to pick up girls with a set of self-made hillbilly teeth. Jonah asked rich how he made the teeth, and the two became business partners. Over 20 million sets of Billy-Bob Teeth have been made, including different varieties of the jacked up chompers. One set even features a piercing in one of the front teeth, of course, this success can be perceived as a groaner, especially for parents who have spent a small fortune on braces for their children. In 2006, their company hit the $40 Million annual sales mark, with Billy-Bob Teeth sales reaching 95% of the world’s countries. Jonah and rich have branched out to include other gag and joke products outside of their famous teeth, further contributing to their multi million dollar success.
7. Smiley Face
Remember that scene in “Forrest Gump” where the titular character is running and a T-shirt salesman approaches him looking for inspiration on a new idea? Some mud hits Forrest and he uses the salesmen’s shirt to clean his face, which makes the famous smiley face appear from the mud pattern. Then, Forrest jogs away saying, “Have a nice day!” Well, that’s not exactly how the smiley face was invented. In 1963, Harvey Ball made $45 from drawing a smiley face for his PR company client, State Mutual Life Insurance. After drawing the smiley face, he left it at that, Ball never bothered to trademark the image. When two brothers named Bernard and Maurice Spain saw the potential of the image and decided to buy the legal rights along with the caption, “Have a nice day,” a legend was born. The two brothers started a novelty store and slapped the smiley face on everything possible. The smiley face hit its peak in popularity in 1971 and then diminished after 18 months, generating $50 Million in sales. The Brothers then opened a store called the Dollar Express, which continued to sell the smiley. Then they sold the chain to Dollar Tree for $500 million. Unsurprisingly, Harvey ball and his son Charlie were kicking themselves after the smiley face took off with such popularity.
The Slinky is probably one of the most popular toy items in history. Raise your hand if you got your giggles from watching a Slinky go down the stairs! Spawned from a minor accident, the Slinky is considered to be one of the most unlikely inventions to become successful. In 1943, naval engineer Richard James accidentally knocked over a tin of spare parts. One of the parts was a spring that “Walked” across his desk and down a stack of books to the floor. Inspired, Richard worked for a year to develop the right combination of Steel and tention before launching the Slinky in 1945. He founded James industries, and within the first two years of production, 100 million units were produced, fetching the modern equivalent of $1 Billion. From 1945-2005, over 300 million units were made, which is enough for almost every person in the United States. Richard’s wife, Betty, took over the company after they split and Richard joined a cult. She is the reason why the world still has the Slinky today, as she saved the company from Richard’s debt. Betty sold the company to poof toys in 1998, and secured financial success for not only herself, but her and Richard’s six children.
9. Pillow Pets
If you’re a parent, or you have children in your life, or your young at heart, then you probably own a pillow pet. These stuffed animals double as a pillow, and while it may seem unlikely that this product would be a huge hit, it was invented as a response to a need. As we’ve learned, inventions that respond to a need are wildly successful no matter how ridiculous they are. In 2003, a mother named Jennifer Telfer noticed her son using a flattened stuffed animal as a pillow. There, she got the inspiration to create the first pillow pet. She and her husband had already started a company called CJ Products in 1996, so she had the resources to create and distribute. Jennifer had to deal with illegal knockoffs and fought to keep them from creating competition. In 2008, she started running commercials for pillow pets on children’s television networks, and the product became a hit. As we know today, Pillow Pets are a multi-million dollar business. Since 2010, over 30 million units have been sold. Jennifer hopes that a larger company will buy out Pillow Pets and that the brand will continue on a much larger scale.
10. Pet Rock
It is known as one of the greatest fads of all time; the Pet Rock. Really, all it is a rock inside a cardboard box that sits on a bed of hay. How in the world did someone create a Multi Million dollar empire out of that. In 1975, Gary Dahl managed to pack up a regular Rock and become amazingly rich. In the first six months, the Pet Rock made $15 Million. Gary was a former advertising executive, and used his knowledge to make a fortune over something anyone can just find on the street. He packaged the rock with a set of instructions on how to take care of the “Pet”, and sold each package for $3.95. After spending money on materials, Gary made about $3 from each sale, which is pretty good in the business world. He marketed the Pet Rock as a “Hassel-Free” pet, and for the era in which it was released, it was like the answer to a question that people didn’t know they had asked. The Pet Rock fad eventually faded, but it was popular long enough to make it so Gary never had to worry about bills for the rest of his life. While Gary passed on to the Rainbow Bridge of Pet Rocks in 2015, his legacy survives. Who is credited for inventing the Swivel Chair? That would be Thomas Jefferson! It’s believed that he drafted the Declaration of Independence while sitting on a Swivel Chair.