People stand in a long queue on a Saturday afternoon to buy a lottery ticket. Everyone looks serious. It’s a big decision. To spend a small amount and to win untold riches. But nobody is laughing at you when you stand in that lottery ticket queue. No one is poking fun at you. No one is sneering.
In your circle of friends and family have you ever met anyone who had made a fortune from buying a lottery ticket? I don’t know about you, but I have never met anyone who has won a massive amount from the purchase of a lottery ticket. The only person that comes to mind was a hardware store owner in a coastal town where I grew up who was said to have won a lottery ticket and closed down his hardware store.
Yet if someone says they have a new business idea that they think is promising, you get a completely different reaction. People will wonder if the person is merely a dreamer. They’ll be suspicious that the person has gone a bit soft in the head. They may even wonder if he or she has lost his or her marbles. Don’t give up your day job, they’ll warn.
It’s strange isn’t it that people will take buying a lottery ticket so seriously but when it comes to someone they know who wants to start a new product or service based on an idea that they have come up with people begin to wonder?
What’s behind this strange phenomenon? Why are people suspicious of new business ideas? What is it that they find so incredulous? Do they genuinely want to protect the idea originator from his or her own folly? Have they been told about the high percentage of new product failures and small business failure rates?
Well, I recently did some digging to find out success stories of people who have come up with new ideas – and not ones that are in obvious markets and industries such as pharmaceuticals and cell phone apps – and came across this story of Joshua Resnikoff. He was working on his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering while his wife made and sold kimchi, a Korean spicy pickled cabbage. He would use her jam bottles to drink coffee in the morning. One day while in the car he coffee spilled over him and his wife said to him that someone should make a lid for the jam bottles.
This incident sparked Joshua to start looking around for lids that were being sold for the jam jars but he was able to come up with nothing. So he decided to work with a friend of his Aaron Panone, a medical design engineer.
They made up a lid called the Cuppow and immediately all their initial 500 units were sold within 72 hours. Slowly they have built up the business and have sold loads to the value of more than $1 million.
What makes this story more fascinating is that both the partners still have day jobs. Joshua works as a bio medical engineer and Aaron is an independent contractor. They say they worked really hard on their careers and neither them wanted to drop them. Yet in their spare time they continue to run the business.
What I find interesting about this story is that all it took to make one million was to come up with an idea for a very small product (it retails for about $8) and is so simple yet effective that it’s almost laughable. They also seem to have had much fun setting up the business and getting the product off the ground. Much more refreshing than the usual complaints that you hear from small business owners how everybody was against them and how they battled and bled and how long it took to make any money out of their our idea.
Nobody is laughing now at these two educated young men. They certainly weren’t standing in line on a late Saturday afternoon to buy a lottery ticket. Yes, you may say that they had a one million in one chance of coming up with a new idea like this but the chances of winning big time in the lottery are far higher. Maybe this story will help you to keep your eyes open and ears attentive when watching people with problems, complaints and difficulties – which may spark an idea for something new. If these guys could turn a coffee lid into a million-dollar idea, maybe you can too.