There are some products that just make you go, “Wow, that’s smart! I wish I’d thought of that.”
Maybe they solve a common problem, maybe they were invented by a kid.
What’s the secret to coming up with a product like this?
Amilya Antonetti from Lucky Napkin, a company that helps entrepreneurs take their product from concept to consumer , says the formula is simple: “The product concept has to be something that somebody wants to repeat — whether it’s a slogan, a logo or a product,” she said. “If people are repeating it, there’s a way to make money,” Antonetti said.
Here are 10 of those products that make you go, “Wow, that’s smart!” and want to tell someone about it. They were invented by engineers, moms — even kids. And some of them made a ton of money from that one simple idea!
Watch Cindy on "The Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda", demonstrating some of these products that make you go, "Wow, That's Smart!"
By Cindy Perman
Posted 11 May 2011
Coffee Joulies are stainless steel beans, about the size of an egg, that you put in your coffee. They instantly cool it down to a drinkable temperature and then keep it warm for up to five hours. They were invented by two 20-something mechanical engineers who were childhood friends. They launched their idea on grassroots-fundraising web site Kickstarter.com, with the goal of raising $9,500. The product was so successful that they made over $300,000 and are now rushing into production to meet demand for the 10,000 sets ordered by investors from Kickstarter. They’ll be available later this summer for the rest of us. One of the coolest things about the product is that the factory where they’re being manufactured is a former Oneida silverware factory, which Oneida had shuttered. The Coffee Joulies inventors are revving it back up, creating American jobs, and producing Joulies full time. ($50 for a set of 5)
The Cool Wazoo is a pad that you can use five ways – in a restaurant high chair, on a swing, in a car seat, in a grocery cart or as a changing pad – to protect your child. It’s heat resistant, water resistant and germ-resistant. It was invented by a stay-at-home mom after her daughter was accidentally burned on a swing that had been overheated by the sun. She funded the idea with her own money and hired a seamstress to come up with the prototype. Though this clever mom originally intended the Cool Wazoo as just a protector for the swing, after consulting Lucky Napkin, she turned the product into a five-in-one to make it more marketable. It sells for $65 in some boutiques and on the company’s web site -- but coming soon, a $19.99 version will be sold in big retail stores.
Snap Caps are bottle-cap jewelry and accessories. They were invented by a 10-year old girl who was looking for locker decorations. Her uncle gave her a bag of bottle caps -- then she used $300 of her birthday and tooth fairy money to buy bedazzling supplies. After working up some samples, she took them to a local toy store where they sold like hot cakes. This simple idea made her a millionaire by the time she was 13! Now, she’s expanded her line to include stationery and jewelry for older girls , and she’s even penned a book to help other kids, called “You Can Start a Business, Too!” ($6 to $15)
Jumbo Garden Hands are essentially giant, serrated garbage can lids with handles that can help you pick up piles of leaves, twigs, grass – or even toys or awkward recycling – in half the time you would with your tiny hands. They're sold through the Walter Drake catalog of helpful household products like microwave egg cookers and waist expanders. The cool thing is that, in addition to selling products from vendors or home craftspeople, Walter Drake accepts submissions from inventors directly on their web site or in the mail and will help you develop the product if they select it. "It has to be a product that’s unique that you can’t find elsewhere in the marketplace," says Ashley Rachubinski, buyer for outdoor products at Walter Drake.
The Undercover Laptop Sleeve looks like it's a regular manila mailing envelope, but it's a durable, padded laptop sleeve. Unlike a fancy laptop sleeve that screams, "Expensive electronic item inside -- steal me now!" this one keeps it on the down - low. Few thieves would think to steal what looks like your interoffice mail or package to grandma. Created by a designer at Luckies of London shortly after he had his phone stolen, it's sold on their web site and on ThinkGeek.com for about $30. The product has been so successful, they also have a phone-size version (the Undercover Mini) and will be coming out with an iPad-sized version this summer.
The Zoku Quick Pop Maker makes popsicles in less than 10 minutes. You pour whatever juice you want in side, add fruit or even make a creamsicle by adding milk. The results are healthy and fast -- and if you want to decorate the popsicles, you've got a fun, creative project for parents and kids. This summer, the company has a kit coming out that allows you to create faces to turn them into frozen pop people or arctic pop animals. It was created by a couple of product designers from Hoboken , N.J., who decided they were tired of creating products for other people and wanted to come up with one themselves! ($40 to $50)
The S2H Replay watch and S2H Step pedometer work like any rewards program: you rack up points and you get free stuff.Only with these, you don't rack up points by spending more or flying more, you earn them by exercising more! For every 60 minutes you exercise, you get a reward code that you can redeem for a gift certificate to a variety of major retailers, including Best Buy and Sears. The creators, frustrated by child and adult obesity rates, came up with the idea as a way to motivate both kids and adults to exercise more. And what better way than with free stuff?! ($19.95)
The Go-Pod is an activity seat designed to give parents a break from holding their babies. The cool part is that it’s portable – it collapses into the size of a yoga mat and fits into a bag you sling over your shoulder. Great for when parents are doing laundry, making dinner, going to the beach. It was created by outdoor enthusiasts who wanted to keep their baby safe during camping trips. They made the prototype in their garage -- now it's sold in a variety of stores, including Babies R Us. ($55)
Breppies are little socks that make earbuds more comfortable and help you distinguish your earbuds from someone else's in your office or household. They come in a variety of colors and designs, including Mickey Mouse and a skull and crossbones. Plus, they can be customized for your company or favorite school or sports team. They were designed by a man who once work ed for a computer network consulting company who funded the venture with his own money. Most of the sales occur on his web site, though they're also sold at J&R Electronics, Suncoast, and FYE stores. ($3.99 or a package of 15 for $10)
This last product isn't sold in stores -- it’s a home remedy for a common problem: Stinky clothes. We've all been there: You want to wear that shirt but it's got that not-so-fresh smell and you don't have time to get it dry cleaned. All you have to do is put some vodka – yep, even the cheap stuff will do -- and a little bit of water in a spray bottle and spray the article of clothing with the mixture. Let it dry and voila! The odor is gone. It's the poor man's drycleaning! This is a trick used on Broadway, so they don't have to dryclean the clothes after every show. Joan Rivers swears by it. So does Madonna. And we have it from a good source that there's a spray bottle of vodka in the dressing room of the Lion King on Broadway right now. They spray their costumes down with it after every show. For the rest of us, we can wear that shirt, and if we're feeling a little not-so-fresh midday, a little spray under here, a little spray under there and we're good to go.
Wow, that's smart!