To Build Wealth - Invent a simple product that has mass appeal
Invention of the Post-It
As inventions go the Post-It is certainly one of the most well-known “accidental” inventions ever brought to market. When looked at in the realm of accidental inventions that went on to make millions of dollars, it has to be at or near the top spot.
The Post-It was a product developed completely in house by the 3M company. 3M company employee Art Fry gets most of the credit for inventing the Post-It in 1974. But like many inventions or new products his work was based on work conducted a few years earlier by a fellow 3M scientist Dr. Spencer Silver.
The story is now famous in invention circles. Silver had been working on developing a super strong adhesive. But instead of creating a super strong adhesive, one of his formulas resulted in a “low-tack”, reusable, pressure sensitive adhesive; exactly what you find on the back of Post-It notes today. Silver tried to find a good use for the new low tack adhesive, spreading word among his colleague’s at 3M for several years.
It just so happens that 3M had an officially sanctioned “permitted bootlegging” policy in place where 3M scientist could basically borrow an idea from a colleague and adapt it to his or her own project.
Art Fry learned of the new low tack adhesive and one day the idea hit him. He had been frustrated by bookmarks falling out of his hymnbook during choir practice. Why not apply some of the low tack adhesive to the back of one of his book marks to help hold it in place. The simple idea of the Post-It note was born, and along with it a $Billion product.
The simple invention known as the Post-it Note brought in over $2 million the first year and today it is estimated that the brand produce $1 billion in sales annually.
So when you start looking for ways to become a millionaire or make money fast, consider that a simple invention or product is just as capable of creating wealth as more complicated or techy products.
Invention of the Band-Aid
Earle Dickson gets the credit for inventing the Band-Aid around 1920. Earle was a cotton buyer for the company Johnson & Johnson when he first applied a piece of gauze to a strip of tape to create a ready-made dressing for minor cuts.
Dickson had an incentive to create this new product as his wife Josephine was prone to cutting herself while working in the kitchen.
Earle showed his new product to his boss, James Johnson. The company Johnson & Johnson soon began to manufacture the new product but sales were slow the first year. Sales only began to take off after Johnson & Johnson began giving free Band-Aids to Boy Scout troops. The rest is history as they say. It is estimated that by the time the 1960s rolled around the company was selling $30 million worth of Band-Aids a year. To date it is estimated that more than 100 billion Band-Aids have been sold.
It is easy to look at an invention story such as the Band-Aid and rationalize that it was easier to invent back in those days, because not much had been invented yet. Or it is just as easy to say that everything has already been invented. But don’t believe it for a second. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is busier than they have ever been in history. Millionaires are still created every single day because they chose to innovate and invent new products and services. Don’t tell them that everything has been invented.
Invention of the Slinky
Some might classify the Slinky as an accidental invention, but an argument could be made that it was more a result of re-purposing.
The Slinky was born in 1943 when a naval engineer named Richard James saw a spring he had been working with fall off of a work bench. Richard was mesmerized by how the spring seemed to come alive as it hit the floor and stayed in motion until all of its coiled up energy had been expended. Richard got the idea to create a toy spring with similar or even better characteristics.
Richard confided in his wife Betty and then began two years of research into the best material to use for his new toy. Betty is credited with coming up with the Slinky name after spotting the word in the dictionary. "Slinky" is a Swedish word meaning traespiral - sleek or sinuous.
The Slinky was introduced to the public during the Christmas shopping season in 1945 at Gimbel's Department Store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Richard was scheduled to hold a 90 minute toy demonstration and hoped to sell a hand full of the toys during that time. To the surprise of Richard, his wife Betty, and the store all 400 units were sold in the first 90 minutes. Richard James had just entered invention history.
In 1998, the world-famous brand was acquired by a local company, now called POOF-Slinky. It is estimated that over 350 million Slinkys have been sold to date. And the Slinky is not going away any time soon. The company just received a cash investment and is expanding operations.
If you are looking to invent or create your own product as a way to make extra money, you should keep the concept of re-purposing in mind. A product or thing used in one industry or for one purpose can be adapted for a different purpose thereby creating a whole new product and industry.
Invention of the Frisbee
The Frisbee is another great example of how a new product or invention does not need to be complicated to be successful. In fact it almost seems that the simpler the idea the greater chances of success. While not true in every case, for the small individual inventor this is reason to believe that you too can cash in, and make some extra money through inventing.
A guy by the name of Walter Frederick Morrison is credited for inventing the Frisbee flying disc around 1948. An early version of the flying disc was known as the Pluto Platter, which is still the basic design for all Frisbees today.
There is little disagreement that the Frisbee was inspired by the pie pan, which made a great make shift toy when it was turned upside down and tossed between two people. In fact the Frisbee name is a takeoff from the Frisbie Baking Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut. The words “Frisbie Pie” was stamped on the bottom of all there pie pans.
Walter Morrison was awarded a patent for his flying disc and the company Wham-O began production in 1957. The Frisbee has since been sold to Mattel Toy Co. but not before Wham-O sold and estimated one hundred million units.
It has been reported that Morrison received over $1 million in royalties from his invention.
The invention of Crocs
Even if you have never slipped a pair of Crocs on your feet it is very likely that you know someone who has. With over 100 million pair sold it is pretty likely you have been in the presence of more than one pair of the colorful lightweight shoes.
The brainchild of three friends, Lyndon Duke Hanson, Scott Seamans and George Boedecker, Crocs is a Colorado based shoe company founded in 2002. The entire shoe line is based on a proprietary closed-cell resin, called Croslite™. The characteristics of Croslite are such that it gives each pair of shoes the soft, comfortable, lightweight, non-marking and odor-resistant qualities that Crocs are known for.
Through creative merchandising and a streamlined distribution system the footwear often described as part shoe and part sandal, developed a loyal following of both customers and retailers in record time. IT was no accident that Crocs quickly developed a broad appeal across income brackets, ages, and genders.
It wasn’t long before celebrities like Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson were seen cruising around in their own pair of Crocs sending sales into the stratosphere.
By 2012 Crocs reported over $1 Billion in annual sales. Not bad for what is arguably a simple business idea that was executed superbly.
[Learn how Nick Woodman reached Billionaire status so quickly and exactly why those little cameras are called GoPros.]