Being An Entrepreneur With A Strange Idea
When we think of successful entrepreneurs, we think of Richard Branson and Bill Gates, two people who made huge companies out of nothing, making things people need. However, being an entrepreneur also means taking an idea no one has, and turning it into something people will want, even though they do not need what you are selling. Case in point, the pet rock, possibly one of the greatest entrepreneur stories of all time.
Gary Dahl was just an advertising executive from Los Gatos, California, when he hit upon a strange idea. He was sitting in a bar in 1975, listening to friends complain about their pets. From this, he hit upon the idea of creating the perfect pet, which led to the idea of selling rocks to people, complete with instructions. The manual stated that a rock did not need to be fed, walked, bathed, groomed, would not die, become sick or disobey you. He drafted the manual that night at home for the pet rock, filling it with gags and puns and making it seem as though the pet rock was an actual pet.
Dahl then went to a building supply store and bought a bunch of rocks, which he put in cardboard boxes with straw in them and breathing holes. In 1975, Dahl created Rock Bottom Productions, which sold rocks for $3.95. The manual was 32 pages long and was called The Care And Training Of Your Pet Rock, and had everything for caring for your pet rock including feeding and bathing it. It also showed how to teach the rock to sit and stay and even how to roll over, come and stand with help from the owner. The expenses for this venture were minimal, with the biggest expense being the die cutting and manufacture of the boxes. The boxes themselves cost one penny, while the straw was free. Dahl also had a printing job for a client and had the manuals printed as part of it, meaning he had nearly no expenses for the pet rock.
The pet rock fad lasted for six months in total, but during that short run, which hit the Christmas season, millions of pet rocks were sold. From getting the idea for a pet rock in April 1975, to December 1975 when the fad ended, Dahl became a millionaire based on an idea most would have thought of as completely insane and doomed to failure.
The point of this story is to show that strange ideas can make a lot of money if you know how to market it properly. Selling rocks to people may seem stupid, but it made one man millions of dollars and it has served as an example of how being an entrepreneur can mean following your dreams and ideas and seeing them pay off for yourself. Sure, it only lasted six months but Dahl has more money than he needs now because he took a risk, which is what being an entrepreneur is all about.
First Published: EntrepreneurJourney.com Oct 3, 2010