Ideas that got away

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I was watching Pitchmen on the Discovery Channel a couple days ago. Personally I think it is a great show.  It takes a couple people with some new products for the direct marketing industry and Billy Mays and Anthony Sullivan listen to their pitches, test the products, come up with ideas for the informercials and commercials, and see if they are good products for direct marketing.  I will admit I am a sucker for informercials. When I am flipping around the TV at 2 AM I always get sucked into watching them and am often amazed how slick the product pitches are.  I can’t really remember when I have ever bought anything from an informercial but they still intrigue me.

One of the most intriguing aspects of it is how they take a product and make the public think they need it.  Take the Shamwow for instance. Millions of these have been sold off the 2 minute commericals with Vince demonstrating how great they are, how they replace paper towels, how they soak up a ton of water, etc.  They really make you think this is a product you can’t live without.  But if you stop and think about it they don’t do much more than a regular kitchen towel or paper towels.  How often do you really have a spill that is big enough that a paper towel won’t soak it up?  Does anybody regularly need to soak up a quart of liquid?  But after watching the informercial everyone thinks this is a product they can’t live without.  And this isn’t a new product.  I remember seeing something similar at the local county fair 25 years ago.

Or take the Snuggie.  Before I saw the commercial I never realized how difficult it was to answer the phone or use the remote when using a normal blanket.  How have I survived this long without a blanket with sleeves???  Now the Snuggie is a pop culture icon and they have sold millions of Snuggies over the past few months.  And the Pedegg.  Do we really need a cheese grater for our feet?

But back to the main point I want to get at.  As I was watching Pitchmen there was a 17 year old kid who had come up with an idea for the Spot Sucker.  It is a portable stain removal device that sucks cleaning solution through the fabric to remove the stain.  Watching this episode I was pretty suprised.  About 3 or 4 years ago I formulated a very, very similar product in my mind.  I was watching a commercial for a carpet cleaner and was thinking “wouldn’t it be cool if there was something small you could take with you that could take a small stain out of a shirt like a carpet cleaner?” and the idea I formulated in my mind ended up being very similar to the Spot Sucker.  But that was as far as it went.  Even if I would have thought about it more and decided maybe this is something I should look at making I really had no idea where to start to make something like this.

We all have ideas like this.  We see something and think of a way to modify it or have a problem and think of a theoretical solution but that is as far as it goes.  I am sure many of you internet types have thought of cool ideas for websites and then done nothing with those ideas and then a few months or years down the road you see someone else has made millions (or even thousands) off a similar idea. Or maybe those ideas are still sitting there in our minds and we haven’t seen them implemented elsewhere yet.

Of course many of our ideas are impractical or impossible to pursue in the real world but I am sure most of you can think of an idea you wish you would have run with and developed. I know I have dozens of ideas for new affiliate sites in my mind but I never get around to doing anything with them.  Why is that?  Why do we let our ideas go to waste?  So my challenge to you (and to myself especially) is to do something with those ideas.  Obviously we can’t always drop everything to pursue what could end up being just a pipe dream and there might be other practical obstacles in our way but do something with those ideas.  It could be something as simple as taking an hour or two a week to work on that new website idea or take some time to research what it would take to develop that new product you have been thinking about for years.  Or find someone to partner up with for your idea.  If you don’t have the technical ability to program that new site find someone who does.

But don’t let all those ideas slip away.  Take some of them and see what you can do with them.  You never know when they will turn into a gold mine.

What are some of your ideas that have gotten away?  Leave a comment and let me know.


  1. Yeah, I "invented" those Christmas light nets that you throw over the top of bushes, but forgot to tell anyone about it. I had a website idea this week, and an invention the week before that, but they got away. I mean they got so far away, I don't even remember them anymore.

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