When it comes to wonky business ideas, you have to give some people credit for giving it their all and putting their idea out into the public, even if that public responds with a resounding, head-shaking, finger-wagging, ‘wait, what?’ After all, who would have put any stock into The Pet Rock (1.5 million sold), AshleyMadison.com (more than 54 million members) or plastic wishbones (millions sold)? Meanwhile, Orbitz, Betamax and the Edsel get the short end of the stick. Behold – some ideas that were introduced to the world and fell flat.
Because what the world needs is more bottled water, beef and chicken-flavoured pet water have hit the shelves a few times but have never quite worked out. Perhaps the intended market doesn’t have access to human money.
Blippy was often dubbed Twitter for the finance world. The social media site allowed users to share credit card transactions as they happened, to share their purchases throughout the day with friends watching from home. If you bought something at iTunes or Amazon, a detailed list would share what you had purchased. It wasn’t all bad – the site raised more than $13 million in funding, and at one point enjoyed a $46.2 million valuation. Now, it’s gone to float away into cyberspace.
A “reputation management” site, Honestly.com worked like Yelp, but featured professionals. People could make a profile for themselves or someone else, and then submit anonymous reviews of that person’s productivity, skill, relationships and integrity on the job. Here’s the kicker – once loaded, anonymous reviews couldn’t be removed, regardless of what they said. Seem like a terrible idea? Maybe. But the site acquired about 1.2 million from investors to get going (it’s since been transformed into a talent search site.
Marketed to teenagers as young as 13, this pre-paid card didn’t pay the bills for the Kardashians, who backed out of promoting it after an onslaught of criticism regarding high fees and the message that some felt glorified excessive spending. According to the Kardashian Kard web site, it has since been purchased by someone unaffiliated with the famous family, “in an effort to educate and remind the general public to be careful, and thoroughly research the products they choose to use, regardless of who endorses it.” Which brings us to…
Image courtesy of Kardashian Kard‘s website.
Trump: The Game
A game that Mother Jones magazine reviewed as being “a great game if you don’t have very many friends,” this Monopoly-style game flopped with only 800,000 of an expected 2 million selling when it was first released in 1989. Despite clarification on the advertising noting that Trump’s proceeds from the game would go to charity (it hasn’t yet been proven that this was true), sales continued to be low. The game was re-released in 2004 after the success of the Apprentice, but sales didn’t improve. The game is listed by Time magazine as being one of Trump’s top 10 failures. A reviewer noted, “I loathed every miserable second of it.”
The man who brought this Thai-invention to America sold more than 50,000 pieces, but ended up being $10,000 poorer than when he started because the product wasn’t as popular as he had planned. It turned out that most people wanted useable condoms, as opposed to expired condoms that were used to save costs in the novelty item. When the merchandise was shipped to America from Thailand, the packages ended up exploding due to air pressure changes on the plane – so the entire shipment was covered with lubricant. What seemed like a good idea at the time, wasn’t really so.
It’s like Facebook, only it’s a place where people who don’t have jobs can go to look for jobs. So, it’s the opposite of LinkedIn. Wait, or is it just like Facebook and LinkedIn? What’s happening here?
Not quite making it to their $999 goal, the project was canceled by the artist behind BaROCK. “We hope to turn a ton of rocks into BaRock,” read their Kickstarter page, which promoted the idea of painting portraits of Barack Obama – some with googly eyes – onto small stones. Hey, it worked for the Pet Rock!
Photo courtesy of BaRock campaign.
This site sold the opportunity to play video games online with hot women, and then buy them presents for their time. Users chose their game, and then chose whether they wanted their online date to be “flirty,” “dirty,” or both. The site crashed in the first few minutes it was launched, so the creators were on to something, but that something was just no. Ew.
Feature photo courtesy BaROCK campaign.