For aspiring entrepreneurs, the Internet offers the opportunity to connect with customers from across the globe. This can be scary — there’s plenty of competition, and it’s hard to find an original idea — but it also ensures that pretty much any idea, no matter how ridiculous, will eventually find its audience.
Here are 10 small businesses that let their freak flag fly, and ended up becoming immensely successful because of it.
1. Cuddle Party
This is the Internet, which means you can pay people to come to your funeral, pretend to be your significant other, or just hang out with you. But maybe the weirdest of these services is Cuddle Party, a website where you can pay to participate in a group cuddle with a bunch of strangers. (Before you ask: no, that is not a euphemism.) With locations across the US, Cuddle Party is a surprisingly successful antidote to our increasingly isolated modern world.
2. Ship Your Enemies Glitter
This website offers exactly what you’d expect: they ship your enemies glitter. They also offer to ship your friends glitter, though we can’t imagine your friends would appreciate that very much. For 10 bucks a glitter bomb, SYEG has created a simple and successful business model for those who would rather solve their problems with glitter than with good, old-fashioned conflict resolution.
3. I Want to Draw a Cat for You
Steve Gadlin wants to draw a cat for you. Selling his customized doodles of felines at between $10–20 a pop ($30 if you want color), Gadlin has quickly become Internet famous, with more than 30,000 Twitter followers and his own TV show where he empowers others to follow their weirdo dreams — just like he did.
4. I Do, Now I Don’t
Have you ever tried to hock your engagement ring after your wedding plans fell through? I’m guessing you haven’t, but just in case you have, IDNID offers competitive prices for buy-backs and trades of jewelry from engagements gone awry. Cynical? Maybe. Profitable? Absolutely.
5. U Star Novels
Always wanted to read steamy fiction about yourself and your significant other, but were too lazy to write it yourself? Look no further — U Star Novels, run by Katie Olver, offers personalized novels written to order for its customers. They also offer children’s books and reimagined classics.
6. The Cheese Lady
Have you ever seen an ice sculpture or flower arrangement and thought: this needs more cheese? Enter Sarah Kaufmann, a.k.a. The Cheese Lady. Kaufmann, who is the former Guinness World Record-holder for the largest cheese sculpture, will prepare a custom sculpture for your business meeting, promotional event, or wedding. Her favorite type of cheese to use? Cheddar.
7. Bobble Maker
Fans of The Office will likely appreciate this startup, which allows you to custom-order a bobblehead of yourself or a loved one for your office desk. And just in case you were worried, the site offers this friendly assurance: “All of our heads do bobble. Unless you specify you want a fixed head.”
8. Bakon Vodka
Why would anyone want bacon-flavored vodka? We don’t know. But it exists anyway, and it’s proven pretty successful to boot, boasting over 17,000 likes on Facebook. They even include a shining review from Food & Beverage World on their site: “Among the smoothest vodkas I have ever had with absolutely no bite… It gave the drink a hint of smokiness and of course a subtle bacon flavor that really, really worked well.”
Ever thought that fanny packs would be way cooler if only you could wear them on your head? We haven’t either. But mother-and-daughter team Barbara and Jessica Aceti of Seattle did. Originally designed in 1989, the CAP-SAC is now available for sale online in a multitude of fun neon colors for a reasonable $15. Children’s sizes are also available: “Store all sorts of things in them! Crayons, toys, snacks, and more!”
They’re goggles. For your dog. Need we say more?
Photo: Annette Shaff/Shutterstock