You might have heard whispers of AshleyMadison.com. What sets this site apart from OkCupid and EHarmony is it only accepts married people, or people looking to date married people. The site’s slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair.” The site founder, former attorney Noel Biderman, is ironically in a happy marriage. Think what you will of the site – it has 3.2 million members.
The original pooper-scooper
If you have a dog, you probably have a device that you call a “pooper-scooper” but the original scooper was actually a human being. Matthew Osborn, owner of Pooper-Scooper.com, was just a guy working two jobs back in 1987, looking to make some extra money, when he decided to make the best of the 100,000 dogs living within 15 miles of his home. He offered a service going into people’s backyards, and picking up their dogs’ poop. Eventually, his business grew to seven employees and six trucks. Osborn was the pioneer of poop scooping, but Matt “Red” Boswell is taking the idea even further with his business Pet Butler. Today Pet Butler is the largest pet-waste removal service in the U.S.
Teenager Fraser Doherty loved his grandmother’s jam recipes so much, he believed the rest of the world would too. At age 14, using his parent’s kitchen in Scotland, Fraser started making jams from scratch. By 16, he’d left school to fully pursue his jam business, SuperJam. Today SuperJam sells around 500,000 jars a year, cornering around 10 percent of the U.K. jam market. Doherty’s business is estimated to be worth $1- to -$2 million.
Eyewear for dogs
You might think, who would buy that? Apparently a lot of devoted dog owners would. Doggles have already received attention and coverage from CNN, Women’s World, People, Regis and Kelly, National Geographic and Animal Planet. The company’s first product was doggy goggles, but now they also make pet accessories like backpacks, flotation jackets, T-Shirts, caps and toys.
One man took advantage of the highly superstitious nature of millions of individuals by making plastic wishbones. Ken Ahroni, frustrated that only two people get to make a wish around the Thanksgiving table, decided to create LuckyBreak, a company that manufactures plastic wishbones. They sound and feel like real dried turkey wishbones when they crack. The company makes 30,000 wishbones a day, even producing custom-designed and imprinted varieties, bringing in more than $2.5 million a year.
The microwaveable pillow
Housewife Kim Levine made this simple realization: if she put her sewing skills to work, put some corn inside of cloth and then put it in the microwave, she’d have a warm pillow. From that we have Wuvit, a multi-million dollar business. Kim thought she’d originally just make the pillow as a gift for her kid, but eventually other parents were calling asking for the pillow, and Kim realized she could go to local retailers to sell her product. Today her product can be found in Saks department stores.
In 2005, Alex Tew, a 21-year-old student in England, put up The Million Dollar Homepage. On this site he had pixels of a 1000 x 1000 grid for sale for $1 each. The idea is simple, but after tons of media coverage, it earned Alex $1,037,100. The last slot on the page went for $38,100.
The sick-day letter
All out of creative excuses to miss work? The Excused Absence Network will come to your rescue. For $25, the company will make notes that appear to come from real doctors or even a hospital, fake jury summons or even authentic-looking funeral service programs. The founder started the company with just $300 and runs it off a laptop. Now the site gets around 15,000 hits a month.
Monastery printing products
Father Bernard McCoy is the CEO of LaserMonks.com, an online retailer that offers printer cartridges and other office supplies at discounted prices. Customers range from individuals to major companies like Morgan Stanley. Sales rose from $2,000 in 2002 to $2.5 million in 2005. The company began as just a few monks filling empty cartridges with black powder and now the company takes between 200 and 300 orders daily.
Personalized MySpace layouts
One peppy, creative teenage girl launched a site called WhateverLife, through which individuals can buy MySpace layouts and enjoy free tutorials on setting them up. The creator left school at age 17 and has since made $1 million off the company. She earns up to $70,000 a month.