His inventions are the fad of choice on school playgrounds everywhere. Learn how pint-sized consumers made one entrepreneur $100 million richer.
What they do:
Make colorful silicone bracelets in all sorts of shapes, like animals, numbers and letters.
Back in 2002, a Japanese design team decided to create rubber bands in cute animal shapes to encourage sustainability. Along came American traveler Robert Croak, who saw the rubber bands on a business trip, and envisioned completely different possibilities.
About the business:
Croak made the rubber bands larger and thicker, then sold them as a kids fashion accessory called Silly Bandz. He made the bracelets in all sorts of shapes, like animals, numbers and letters. Put them on and they’re a squiggly bracelet. Take them off and they revert to form. Croak first sold Silly Bandz online in 2008, then launched his retail sales in 2009. By 2010, the bracelets were in 8,000 stores – generating more than $100 million in sales.