20 Success Stories That Seemed Bad On Paper

Once upon a time, a successful marketing campaign was merely a conceptual spark. At times, it was even dismissed as a bad idea, subject to ridicule or deemed a futile endeavor by skeptics.

Yet, as fate would have it, these seemingly flawed notions evolved into triumphs, proving to be not only successful but revolutionary. Join us today as we delve into business ideas and plans that defied initial criticism, transforming from perceived failures into resounding successes against all odds.

Once upon a time I had a headache. My then-boyfriend said to take a shower by candlelight.

My first thought was, “Showering in near darkness is a stupid idea” followed immediately by “I want to try it.”

Damn if it didn’t work. I went ahead and married him to retain access to his good ideas and his pancakes.

Selling bottled water in places where tap water is both free and better regulated used to be a joke.

“Nobody’s going to play your silly little java game with outdated graphics about digging up blocks”

Rumor has it that the founder of FedEx received a C in college on a paper describing his proposed business. According to the rumor, the professor thought no one would use the service when the Post Office already provided that service at lower cost.

In the 1700s, this guy named Timothy Dexter had a few of these.

* [Bed warmers] are useful in cold climates, but he took a shipload of them to the Caribbean for sale. They were sold to the molasses industry as ladles and turned a handsome profit.
* He took a load of mittens to the same place. Some Asians bought them to sell onward to Siberia.

* Newcastle was a major coal-mining area. He took a shipload of coal there for sale, arrived during a major miner’s strike, and turned a big profit.

* He did the mittens thing again, this time to the South Seas, and arrived just in time to sell them to some Portuguese traders on their way to China.

Let’s drive a car with a GPS and a camera down EVERY STREET ON EARTH!

A plane has crashed in the jungles of New Guinea. Three survivors have found a village and managed to get communication. There’s no way to get an airplane room to land and take off and helicopters can’t make it into the valley. I know! We’ll airdrop medical personnel, supplies for a glider, assemble it, and slingshot it into the air! Then, we’ll catch it with a tow-plane. It worked.

Toast. “Hey let’s take something we already finished baking and heat it up again.” The person who first came up with it must have sounded crazy.

A movie rental company that mails you DVDs. I thought it was the [worst] idea when it first came out when I could drive 5 minutes to Blockbuster and get whatever I wanted then.

CATS, the Broadway musical. A nonsense fever dream about horny catpeople competing to die and be reborn (yes, that is the plot, insofar as CATS has one), based on a book of silly short poems by T.S. Eliot that are not really related to each other except all being about cats. Just catpeople introducing themselves and rubbing on each other for several hours, then one of them “ascends” aka dies.

To date, CATS has made over a billion dollars worldwide.

The way they extracted those kids from the cave in Thailand. The diver and anesthesiologist (first off, how f*****g lucky to find somebody with that overlap in skills) who was consulted and joined the effort said it was a terrible idea. It was only when presented with the other options that he realized this terrible idea was truly their best option.

They rescued all the kids and their coach successfully.

Dropping a whole bunch of cats by parachute over Borneo to stop the spread of plague

In 2006 I thought of having a delivery service for all restaurants, but figured that to pay the driver for their time + gas + wear and tear, you’d have to charge the customer so much it would never work. Didn’t realize drivers are willing to work for pennies and customers are willing to spend $30 for $7 worth of food. My bad.


The Sims computer game. It sounds like the stupidest idea ever – who would want to control a Sim character doing all the mundane s**t we do every day. How boring. But I played the s**t out of the Sims, then the subsequent versions.

The guy who bought sections of the berlin wall. People were tearing it down and he wanted to buy some of it. The government was like, lol sure you pay us for something we are tearing down anyways. He has been selling pieces of the wall as souvenirs and is fairly wealthy from it.

When they were working on the movie idiocracy, they asked the costume designer to find goofy yet futuristic looking shoes to have people wear. They found a small company and decided that their shoes looked so stupid that Nobody in their right mind would ever wear them.
After some time they were asked what would happen if the shoe brand suddently took off, and they answered that theres no way people would seriously buy these.

The brand was Crocs

“What, Sir? Would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I pray you excuse me, I have no time to listen to such nonsense.” – Napoleon Bonaparte, regarding the steam engine

Personal Computers. In the 1970s, the idea of having a personal computer at home was met with skepticism. Many believed that computers were massive machines meant for businesses and institutions.

The fake inflatable tanks in WW2.

Louis Brennan, inventor of the gyro monorail. His monorail was a single track train which used a gyroscope-based balancing system to remain upright. The designs look insane on paper but it was crazy innovative, safe for passengers, and was apparently even faster than the regular trains (of those days).

As someone who spent a lot of time around 2005 trying to describe it to some very skeptical people, I would definitely say Wikipedia.

Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart colab.


Have you ever heard of the “Pet Rock” phenomenon? It sounded absurd to sell rocks as pets. On paper it was a headache, but in reality in the 70s people went crazy about it. Sometimes the craziest ideas spark the most!”

Ok ok ok ok…! hear me out! It’s a video game, about two Italian plumbers, that stomp on turtles! They travel through giant sewer pipes, break bricks to release mushroom, which they eat to become bigger!!

So I’m going make a movie about the 2008 financial crash.

-Um, OK…

I’m going explain all the jargon and why it happened

Um, OK, but won’t people be bored?

not if I have Margot Robbie explaining, naked, in a bubble bath

OK you have my attention

It will be great and it will have Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrell, Selena Gomez and Brad f*****g Pitt

(Some movie executives, probably)

The Big Short is excellent; I have seen it three times now.

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