5 Simple Ideas That Made Their Inventors Rich

Received wisdom suggests that there's nothing new under the sun, yet people continue to profit from what are admittedly incredibly simple ideas. After a bit of hard work on the production, marketing and sale of the product, some of the most profitable inventions come down to, basically, obvious ideas that make most of us wonder why we didn't think of it first.

There are few stories around these days more inspirational than that of Sara Blakely. Mid way through her life, Blakely managed to become the youngest ever self-made female billionaire according to Forbes. How? She was the woman behind the wildly successful underwear brand Spanx - control pants for women. Blakely had spent her life doing mundane jobs. For seven years she worked as a door-to-door fax machine saleswoman. However, Blakely's life would change forever one night when she was getting ready to go out and couldn't find underwear that she could wear with white jeans. After some DIY on a pair of control pantyhose, she had the idea to create a comfortable, slim-fitting, figure-shaping pants for women. Blakely saved $5,000 and invested it into a company that manufactured just that. In just a few short years, her idea had resulted in a $500 million dollar turnover annually.

This is just one example of how a simple idea can be turned into a multimillion dollar industry. Often, people make millions by offering simple solutions to common problems, or by marketing a product or service in a completely unique way. Get inspired by the following five people who made a career out of just such fantastically simple ideas.

5 Slankets


Slankets are blankets that have been specially developed to have sleeves and/or pockets. This bizarre idea was dreamed up by Gary Clegg in his college dorm. One cold night, Clegg was watching TV in a sleeping bag. The low temperature meant that Clegg was desperate to stay warm, so it annoyed him to have to take his hand out from the sleeping bag to grab the remote and change the channel. Clegg soon designed an idea for a blanket with sleeves, getting his mother to sew the first couple of prototypes.

4 Red Shoe Soles


This simple yet brilliant idea was dreamed up by a 16 year old Irish teenager. Tara Haughton was a fashion enthusiast from Ireland, but like so many other fashion lovers, she lacked the funds to splurge on designer clothing and shoes. When Haughton attended a family wedding in Spain, she had bought new shoes for the event. She peeled off a sticker at the bottom of her shoe, but the residue caused red confetti to stick to the bottom of her heels. A relative asked her whether she was wearing Louboutins, and Haughton's idea was born.

3 Pet Rocks


The Pet Rock was a concept created by a man named Gary Dahl in the 1970s. Dahl was an advertising executive who had begun to contemplate the concept of keeping pets, and developed a hypothesis on the psychology involved. Dahl concluded that the sort of pet you have and what it can do isn't what makes the pet special. Rather, he believed, simply the having of a pet is what matters. With this in mind, Dahl constructed a marketing plan for pet rocks.

2 Wearing T-Shirts


If somebody told you that you could make money from wearing a t shirt, what would you say? You'd probably guess it was impossible, because people wear branded t shirts all the time. However, Jason Sadler is a man who managed to make the idea of being paid to wear t-shirts a reality when he set up a website called back in 2009.

1 Buying Domain Names


This is definitely one of the greatest ideas ever, and infuriatingly easy. Back in the early 1990s, the internet was only a baby, not the fully-fledged global phenomenon that we know today. Back then, a few techies and entrepreneurs started buying cheap domain names in the hope of selling them off to businesses in the future, or even striking up a deal with some companies. They bought generic domain names that would be in high demand if the internet took off.

As we all know, the internet did more than take off. The internet has proved to be the most important invention in modern history, and has changed the world we live in forever. Nobody knows this better than Chris Clark. Clark bought the domain name in the early 1990s for a mere $20. Then, he waited. As the internet went mainstream, generic domain names were very much in demand for big brands. Recently, Clark managed to sell for a staggering $2.6 million. Truly genius!

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5 Simple Ideas That Made Their Inventors Rich