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5 bizarre investments that made big money

Posted on 30 April 2015

Bizarre ideas that proved to be wise investments

Many of us have crazy business ideas, but only the brave (or stupid) actually invest money in making them happen. Here’s our top 5 of the most ridiculous business ideas that made their makers and investors ridiculously rich.

  1. Pet rock

    In 1975, former advertising executive, Gary Dahl came up with the idea of selling a hassle-free pet. This was effectively a rock placed on a bed of straw. The fad only lasted for around six months, but in this time it made its investors a massive $15million.

    blog-article-image-pet-rock

  2. Yellow smiley faces

    In the early 1970s, two brothers, Bernard and Murray Spain, bought the legal rights to the iconic yellow smiley face symbol. They added the tagline ‘Have a nice day’, splashed it across everything possible and sold smiley novelties in their Dollar Express stores. In 2000, they sold their chain for $500m.

    blog-article-image-smilie-face

  3. Wacky Wall Walker

    When Ken Hakuta’s mum sent him a Wacky Wall Walker from China, he just knew the sticky spidery blobs would catch on. So he bought the rights for $5,000 and started selling them in the Washington DC area. News soon spread and within just a few months Hakuta had sold 240 million Wall Walkers, turning his small investment into a whopping $80 million.

    blog-article-image-wall-walker

  4. Slinky

    In the early 1940s, Naval Engineer Richard James discovered the Slinky by accident after dropping a tension spring on the floor. He felt it would make an interesting toy and debuted it at a show in Philadelphia. Within 90 minutes, he’d sold all 400 of them. The Slinky went on to make £250 million – and they’re still sold in toyshops today.

    blog-article-image-slinky

  5. The blanket with arms

    The Snuggie, a blanket with arms, is a bizarre idea that went big. Thanks to humorous marketing, YouTube, and appearances on US chat shows, it became an overnight sensation. Around 20 million Snuggies were sold in just one year, making it’s creator Scott Boilen $200m richer. Not a bad investment at all.

    blog-article-image-snuggie

Investing proving more interesting than you thought? Then read about 5 successful celeb investors who are clearly more than just a pretty face. Or if talk of investments has you thinking, why not read our What is an ISA guide today.

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Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Phoenix Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 110418). As part of SunLife’s commitment to quality service and security, telephone calls may be recorded.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

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