10 Totally Stupid Online Business Ideas That Made Someone Rich

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These things are not “stupid” ideas. They defy intuition to be sure (selling plastic wishbones online, who would of thought?) but most of the ideas simply exploited hidden market niches, which is actually smart.

There is one exception: million dollar homepage. That site was launched at just the right time and it was the first of its kind. People were willing to take a chance on it for those two reasons. There will probably never be another million dollar homepage so I think we can reasonably conclude that he got lucky…but it still was not a stupid idea. It was a very well executed plan and the creator capitalized (intentionally) on the originality of the idea, the fact that he could offer a cheap creative ad space (everybody jumps on that), and the low overhead cost. It was a “this probably won’t work but what the hell” idea.

I don’t think any business idea that makes you one million dollars is stupid (unless you plan on buying lottery tickets everyday).

There will probably never be another million dollar homepage…

In twenty years or so it might be possible to build another million-dollar homepage, just as it’s been possible to revive fads from the 1960s, the 1970s, and the 1980s twenty years later. (The 1990s nostalgia is due any minute now.)

Twenty years from now there will be a large population of web users who have never heard of the original million-dollar homepage. Others might greet the revival of the fad as a charming reminder of their own youth.

And, of course, unless historical trends change a lot, eventually you’ll be able to build a million-dollar homepage just by passing a hat around your circle of friends, just as Dr. Evil can no longer terrify the world by demanding a million-dollar ransom. 😉

Some fads can be revived…

but the real success of the million dollar homepage was convincing companies to buy ad space, not attracting people to the site. Sure many web users will not have heard of the site (I would venture to say web users of today have not heard of it) but the people spending the ad dollars are (presumably) a more knowledgeable group. That is the group the next million dollar homepage has to court if indeed there is a next million dollar homepage.

The eb and flow of certain fads depends on people forgetting or people lacking knowledge about the past, or nostalgia. I am hypothesizing that advertisers are immune to both of those things because they manage money and have to be careful.

..then again (yes I am arguing with myself) people on Wall Street manage an awful lot of money and repeat their same bad habits in cycles…so maybe you have a point.

I’m glad you took the trouble to argue with yourself, because now I can ROTFL at your third paragraph with you instead of at you. 😉

Believe me, advertisers are human and they will forget every bit as quickly as everyone else does.

and just looking through the million dollar homepage –> awful lot of ads for casino’s etc.. these werent big ad spenders..
How is making a dating site for people with HIV/AIDS a “totally stupid” idea? I think there’s also a dating site somewhere for people with herpes and other STDS. Sounds like a good idea to me.
Agreed. This is a site with a purpose. These people are in a unique situation where traditional methods of meeting people become complicated (to understate things). I think the person who made this list misunderstood or did not consider what role this could play in an HIV + person’s life.
The businesses & founders are not stupid. The people who buy products from _some_ of these businesses…that’s debatable.
I thought doggles was the least “stupid.” Quotes because I agree that most of them aren’t really stupid.
The SantaMail is in the funny one to me. In Canada, if you mail a letter to Santa Claus, North Pole, H0H 0H0 then Canada Post employee volunteers send you a response in the guise of Santa. And the only cost to you is stationary and a stamp.
I wonder what it feels like to make a lot of money doing something that feels kind of stupid. I’m sure the money goes a long way to soothing any mental discomfort, but I still wonder.
How is any idea, that makes money, stupid? It’s arguably the best metric for judging an idea/execution.
I really dig the spirit of this article, but a few of the companies mentioned had revenue below $200k. I wouldn’t exactly say anyone is “rich” from that yet.

PickyDomains is expected to hit six figures this year

This article was written in February 2007. The author, Dmitri Davydov, founded PickyDomains.com and promotes it from elsewhere on nichegeek.com (see the front page, for example).

The current incarnation of PickyDomains’ service is at id 722 (http://pickydomains.com/node/722), and started at 15 (http://pickydomains.com/node/15). Assuming continuous ids and no refunds, 707 domains have been processed on the site since April 2007, yielding $17K in revenue for the site and $17K in payouts. It’s possible there are other revenue streams — via domain registration affiliate programs for one — but six figures is unreasonable unless I’m missing something.

I agree and have wondered for some time whether this list was in fact a plant on their part. I have been watching their site for some time and there is not a chance it is used often enough to attract those sort of figures. this article was linked to at their site shortly after they started up.
Assuming you don’t have employees or significant costs, don’t get hit by random acts of misfortune, and define rich relatively broadly.
a) There’s a big difference between 200k in revenue and 200k in profit

b) How many of these businesses will be around 10 years? I’ll put the over/under at 5.

Doggles – goggles for dogs isn’t dumb. The founder just made a non-sell-able creative idea sell. He made it pay. I guess he makes more money than Twitter 🙂
“Designer Diaper Bags” is not a stupid idea. Christie Rein was going through a problem, she solved it and started selling the solution
An old principle here perhaps: evolution does not mean making an organism more complex or “better” necessarily, only “more adapted”, so sometimes more complex organisms can become less complex organisms, such as cave fish losing their ability to see. Similarly, perhaps with memes. Better adapted memes mean just that, better adapted, even if they are completely insane from one way of looking at things. So if the meme of say plastic wishbones mentioned in this article is adapted for some crazy reason, it will find a niche. This is the dark side of evolution. Sometimes organisms lose features and complexity for the sake of adaptation, and perhaps there is a memetic corollary here to, sometimes in the free market the most adapated memes are some of the most insane or revolting, from an aesthetic standpoint. Which just proves the “selfish gene/meme” paradigm – if they can get copied, they will, and they don’t care about whatever pain or suffering or cultural decline that may occur as a result.


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