Successful entrepreneurs have one thing in common: they think outside the box. It was this type of thinking that gave us many of the inventions we use in our daily lives, from smartphones to weed whackers. As business expert and serial entrepreneur Scott Vollero says, “Don’t reinvent the wheel – make it better!”
And that’s exactly what the entrepreneurs who came up with these weird and wacky business ideas did. They may seem strange, silly, even, but each one is a hit with the people who need them. And, that’s the magic ingredient for success.
The Smashing Place
Have you ever been so angry you felt like breaking something? Something that makes a satisfying sound when it breaks into a million pieces? Sure you have.
Of course, you don’t want to break your own stuff. And you certainly don’t want to clean up the mess. If you feel the rage and happen to be in Tokyo, head on over to The Smashing Place. What do you get for your money? A plate or plates, big or small, a private de-stress zone where you can hurl the plate at a target and, once you do, you get cheers from the staff. Oh, how satisfying.
The Something Store
Amazon could be described as the almost-anything store, but the Something Store is quite different. Back in 2007, company founder, Sami Bayrakci, was searching for a birthday gift for a friend and found the wide range of choices overwhelming. What if someone else could decide what to buy for his friend?
That’s when it hit him – and the Something Store was born. Customers would pay a flat fee and receive a randomly selected item. No need to make a decision – just pay $10 and open the box when it arrives. Surprise!
Most of Bayrakci’s friends told him he was crazy. No one was going to pay $10 for the unknown. But, he started small and sold 1,000 “somethings” in the first few months. The Something Store turned a profit the first year.
The recession took a toll, but business is back on track now. Bayrakci guarantees that “somethings” are worth at least $10. Most of the items are liquidated products like jewelry and fashion accessories, but he also throws in more expensive items such as Wii systems and laptops, as well. People love surprises and enjoy the gamble – pay $10 for “somethings” that are worth at least $10 and maybe get a surprise worth a whole lot more.
Urban farming is all the rage. As municipalities increasingly allow chickens within city limits, more people are interested in getting eggs right from their own backyards. But taking care of chicks and raising them to adulthood is a difficult and time-consuming project. Chicks have to be kept warm, fed properly and protected from predators as well as the elements.
Leslie Suitor and her husband live in the country near Traverse City, Michigan. They had chickens, but when Traverse City changed the in-city ordinance to allow four hens per city parcel, Suitor began fielding a lot of calls from people interested in purchasing chickens from them.
But, there were problems with simply selling chickens to the inexperienced. Wasn’t there a better way than selling chickens outright? That’s when she and her husband came up with the Rent-A-Chicken idea. The plan was to rent out adult chickens for a period of time. Renters wouldn’t have to deal with raising chicks that way, which eliminates a lot of the cost and hard work, and they could try their hand at having chickens to see if they were up to the task.
For a fixed price, the renter receives two Buff Orpington chickens, a coop, chicken run, feeder and nesting box. After the rental period, renters may purchase their chickens or return them for the winter and rent the same pair again next year. Renters get an average of a dozen eggs per week each summer.
People laughed when these businesses started. No one’s laughing now.