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The American Dream: with hard work, dedication, and a little perseverance, you can achieve anything! Or so they say.

Capitalism in the U.S. lead us all to believe that every business venture we pursue can help us achieve the dream of being a successful and wealthy business owner. Though, not every business idea is meant to be.

We went to Ask Reddit to hear some of the worst business ideas that people have ever heard. Some people even went as far as to go on the popular TV show Shark Tank.


Redditor Imaginary_Trainer654 asked:

"What's the worst business idea you've seen someone try to execute?"

Let's see how bad these ideas really can get.

Real life Craigslist.

"There was a guy in my town that opened a business that was the equivalent of a brick and mortar version of Craigslist or newspaper classified ads. It was a unit in a strip mall with bulletin boards. You paid to put an ad up and other people came to look at the ads with a small picture. This was AFTER Craigslist existed, not some pre internet thing. There was no actual merchandise in the store, just crappy pictures of stuff with the contact info."

"It wasn't even a high foot traffic location, you had to maneuver through a busy intersection, park and go inside to look at a bulletin board. It went under and he tried to blame the landlord because he couldn't get a sign permit for the end of the building even though he had 2 other signs."

- montanagrizfan

"This one is straight up insanity."

- MeinHempf

"It's like trying to pitch the idea of dedicated instant messenger services (AOL instant messenger style) for desktop computers well after Slack, Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, and a whole slew of other services already exist."

- COMPUTER1313

"This is worst actually. This is more like selling a service where people write messages on a post-it to each other."

- SnowDay111

Soup Tubes ruined her relationship.

One Redditor called back to another subreddit for relationships.

"Does anyone have that reddit relationship advice thread. The one where the girlfriend is questioning her boyfriend's intelligence after his 'great' business idea."

"Soup delivered to peoples houses via pipes."

- B00LEAN_RADLEY

"I give you…soup tubes."

- GuiltyWatts

Here's a excerpt from that poor woman's post:

"I have been living with my boyfriend for about 7 months. Two weeks ago he sat me down and presented a powerpoint presentation with his business idea. I knew he'd been working on an idea, but he didn't want to tell me about it until it was finished. Based on his enthusiasm and his prior seemingly intelligent nature, I thought maybe it'd be a pretty cool idea."

Instead he presented to me an idea about "soup tubes". The idea, if you can call it that, is to construct a series of tubes throughout our city that leads to centralized soup kitchens. For a monthly subscription, a customer can 'subscribe to a tube of soup,' and a tube extension would be built off the nearest mainline tube and directly into the customer apartment or home. Based on subscription level, that would determine the quantity of soup a customer could pour and how many types of soup. The 'tubes' are basically the size of pipes, like you might see under a sink, but he insisted that, 'It MUST be called soup tube, not soup pipe, tube just zings better.'"

- coughs-up-flowers

​Always secure the merchandise.

"Father-in-law drove 18 hours down to Florida to catch shrimp, filled his tiny car with tons of the shrimp and drove back. It took days to vacuum seal the shrimp that hadn't gone bad only to sell a few bags to some friends, the car smelled like seafood for years."

- Truedeal

"Missed one key step, preserving the catch."

"Reminds me of a friend that tried to grow weed in the woods. Ended up working like a charm! He has so much weed he could barely pick it all. Filled multiple garbage bags with it. Loaded the bags into his car. Then....well he didn't research properly and just let it sit. He tried to smoke some wet weed,, but as you can guess, it wasn't burning.. A few days later it was covered in hot mold and the car smelled like a planet sized skunk exploded in there."

- davewtameloncamp

There's definitely a law against this.

"When I was in high school, one of my friends wanted to start a little coffeeshop/hot chocolate stand with a 'cuddle corner' and 'free hugs for anyone who wants them.' She offered jobs to our other friends -- ex. the idea was that this little business would be operated and staffed by high schoolers."

"She failed to see the issue with having 16 year old girls required give free hugs to customers or having to staff the cuddle corner."

- chernoushka

"It could be very successful, but to all the wrong people."

- Jenny010137

"'I love escorting people. I put an ad out for an escort service and got a LOT of responses. Mostly creeps. Made a few friends.' - Dwight Schrute"

- ashamedprotein

The Ionic Ear.

"Can't believe no one mentioned that guy who went on Shark Tank to pitch a Bluetooth ear piece that you got surgically implanted in your ear canal that you charged by sticking a needle in your ear while you slept."

- OtherwiseKnownAsSam

"The Ionic Ear!"

- Film2021

"I can only imagine the FDA approval process on something like that."

- SnipesySpecial

Not your average subscription box.

"Monthly sex-toy subscription. You would get a different sex toy each month, which is an OK idea I guess, there's one of those for everything nowadays, but the only problem this guy had is that he wanted the customers to eventually return the toy so he could pass it on to the next customer. He actually got in talks with an owner of a local sex shop to help him start, but the enthusiasm flattened out quite quickly..."

- DiabeticStormtrooper

"Remove the return part of it and you have kinky lootbox. With the right marketing I think you could make decent cash, assuming you had adult industry connections to sex toy manufacturers and could get your ads on pornhub, pobably big dollar signs."

- Xx_heretic420_xX

People Break Down Their Greatest Accomplishment On The Internet | George Takei’s Oh Myyy

Really couldn't beat the competition.

"In about 2005 my friends dad tried to start an arcade....in a small town, just outside walking distance from a school using beat up 2nd hand machines... To get there from the school youd have to walk by an established, larger arcade that also sold food...."

- TysonGoesOutside

"It all sounded fine and dandy until you mentioned the larger arcade with food."

- melvinonfleek

Maybe don't invest with your own funds.

"Guy I know got a small inheritance. Enough for a deposit on a unit or small house."

"Nope! Sea-horse farm."

"Turns out sea-horses are difficult to breed."

- Yeeemz

"What would you even use sea horses for? Pets? Those weird dried up seahorses in tacky gift shops?"

- ChristmasSkeletor

"They're super popular as pets for saltwater/reef aquariums. Not a bad idea if you have the know-how on how to breed them, especially since most are wild caught, so there's a huge demand for captive bred animals. Would say it's more of a bad execution than idea."

- fantasyguy1999

Just banana pudding.

"The banana pudding store."

"One day, my ex-BF and I were taking a stroll downtown in the city that we were living in at the time. We passed a store that was called The Banana Pudding store (or some such, I don't remember exactly)."

"Well, I'm sure they sell more than just banana pudding, so let's go in. You know, like how Home Depot sells more than just hardware. They sell Gatorade, candy bars, etc."

"There were vats of banana pudding in the display cases and I thought, "Well, surely they must also sell other flavors," so I asked if I could have a chocolate pudding and the guy politely informed me that they didn't have chocolate pudding. So I asked if they had maybe butterscotch or something else. 'No ma'am, just banana pudding here.'"

"I mean, it wasn't false advertising. But surely he couldn't be selling just one single flavor in that whole shop, could he? As expected, the next time we strolled down that street a month or two later, the store was shuttered."

"I feel bad for him. I'm sure that the guy made great banana pudding that all of his friends and family would compliment him on and tell him that he should probably open a banana pudding shop 'cuz it was so good. But I don't think they literally meant that."

- SaltyPopcornColonel

Don't try to cheat your customers.

"At a place I used to work, we supplied printing companies with their ink. Being that digital printing is well and truly established at the point, there wasn't a whole lot of business for this type of ink anymore, so there was a lot of competition between suppliers."

"One of the technicians somehow weaseled his way to the top despite no business experience. When he was told to very simply make more money, rather than go out and find new customers, his bright idea was to make our company's ink weaker, with the intention that our customers will just have to buy more product to complete their jobs."

"Surprise, the customers didn't like that and went to competitors. Business was closed within a year."

"There was a lot more sh*t he would do, I could probably fill a book with stories from that place."

- Sajiri

"I've seen a lot of ideas on here that had some good points and bad points and ultimately failed, and I've seen a good amount that made me think it could work out if they knew what they were doing/had more money to invest/marketed to the right people. But this...I can't imagine any way he thought this would work. Maybe if they were the only supplier, but he knew they had competitors in the market and decided to just make their product worse? Oh man, what was this guy thinking? And how did anyone approve it? So many questions."

- AnonymousH*e92

"His concept is all too common, unfortunately. No change in price but reducing contents of all sorts of goods from peanut butter in a container due to making the dimple underneath deeper to reducing the number of stitches in seems on clothes."

- Gr*ndlepunter

Myspace for Strippers.

"Context: I live in Las Vegas."

"When I was in my 20s, I was hired by a man who wanted to build 'Myspace for Strippers.' His goal was for the men on the site to pay him to follow their favorite strippers and know what clubs they were dancing at and when.

"He shut the project down (after months of paying me) when he found out that no stripper would sign up for it."

- JudgeJudyApproved

"'Sign up to get stalked'"

- Yukimor

Why would anyone call this guy?

"One of the younger dudes in my karate class was going to start a handyman business. 24h, anything needing to be done, anywhere in our district."

"Sounds good. You gonna get a loan and buy a used truck and get some tools? And you never have talk time on your phone, so will you get a landline (2006, so not super outlandish)?"

"'No, I'll go on my bicycle. And I'll just use the tools they have. And they can email me when they need service.'"

"Right because when I have water spraying out of my geyser through the ceiling at 3am I'm going to email a dude on a bicycle to come fix it using all the tools and the ladder I don't own..."

- flyboy_za

"On a bike? Okay. Sure.

"Not having your own tools AND showing up on a bike?"

"He's just a f*cking dude riding a bike."

- funkmaster29

"Rent-a-Dude."

- Shiny_Agumon

The juicer that juiced... bags of juice?

"That crazy expensive juicer from several years ago that used proprietary juice packets. You could just poke a hole in the packet and hand squeeze the juice for free to save a few hundred dollars."

- Amplifiedsoul

"Maybe I'm stupid but I thought the point of a juicer was to take whole ingredients and make juice out of them."

- Educational-Candy-17

"That device is how I got introduced to the AvE YouTube channel, he took one apart and was awestruck at the over-engineering in the device."

- country_hacker

Just a little too late.

"Dude bought 150k fidget spinners at the height of the craze..."

"It took months to ship out from china and by the time all his sh*t arrived, the mania had ended and the retail price was already near his original wholesale price."

F*ckin' guy still has fidget spinners today. I guess he may eventually do ok on it. But god damn..."

- User30three

"I get trying to capitalize on a popular trend, but 150k is ridiculous. Even when it was at its peak everybody pretty much knew it wouldn't last."

- KirbyBucketts

"It literally appealed to people with short attention spans..."

- vhante1

Really poor choice in words.

"One time many years ago my friend and I were in line behind a woman who had a shirt emblazoned with the word 'Taint.'"

"He inquired about it and it turned out it was her clothing company. She explained that she loved the word 'taint' '…like, taint this, taint that.'"

"He explained the popular meaning of the word to her and her face dropped."

"I was mortified but he probably did the right thing."

"Also, I'm old and this happened pre-Google. Perhaps around 1999? Maybe she could have Hot-Botted or Excited it."

- Brad3000

How do you not see the patterns after a while?

"I have a friend whos family has gotten involved in multiple pyramid schemes. And every single time they get into a new pyramid scheme, they claim its not a pyramid scheme."

"No, no, no you don't get it. I AM the boss. Once I produce 5 clients for my mentor, then I keep all my new clients and they have to get ME 5 new clients EACH. ITS PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE!!"

- bodhasattva

"I can see Kramer doing this. Actually I can see him doing everything in this thread."

- Look_Its_Ginko

excited making money GIF by HULU Giphy

How some of these ideas got this far is beyond believable. Luckily for a few, there were people in their life who were there to give them a reality check.

Unfortunately for others, not so much.

May this be a cautionary tale, do your research before investing your time and energy into what could be a very bad business idea.

Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.

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