In 2017, before his senior year at Philadelphia's Temple University, Davis Harari traveled to Tel Aviv for a summer internship at a venture capital firm. While he was there, a jokey group chat and a popular meme inspired an idea for a business venture.
The Nut Button was, in its time, one of the more recognizable Internet memes. It gained traction as an image of a hand pressing a blue button with the word "nut" Photoshopped onto it. (The raunchy underlying joke is popular among young people with a particular sense of humor — Google at your own risk.)
Harari, now 22, thought the meme was hilarious and wanted to buy an in-real-life Nut Button, like the Staples "Easy" Button. When he couldn't find one, he realized it might be an opportunity to sell his own and make some money.
Harari called up another entrepreneurial friend from high school, James Reina, who was then a finance student at Binghamton University in New York, and pitched the idea.
"The first thing I thought was, 'That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard,'" Reina, 23, tells CNBC Make It.
"You're right, it is stupid," Harari recalls telling his friend, with a laugh. "But think about it. It's smart, kind of."
They knew there was brand recognition, plus there wasn't much of a financial risk selling plastic buttons online. What did they have to lose?
That was a year and a half ago. Harari and Reina have since sold more than 14,000 Nut Buttons for a total of about $200,000 in sales.
"I'm so happy this worked," says Harari, who quit his first post-college job as soon as their business began to take off. "I worked at a consulting firm for two months. Man, it f----- sucked."
Here's how the business partners turned a popular Internet meme into an IRL product and success story.