Ideas are the beginning of everything. The first step towards success in anything has always been an idea, be it business, technology or literature. But people simply don’t like new ideas all the time. They often like to go with old ones which appear to have worked for them in the past, thinking there is no need for change. There are lots of examples in the past where new ideas were shot down again and again by people thinking they would fail. Some were ridiculed. But there have been some ideas that took the world by storm despite the rejections and ridicules, humiliating those who turned them down in the first place.
Here are 6 such ideas that were considered stupid before they shut the critics with their tremendous success.
1. Netflix was laughed at by Blockbuster.
It was the year 2000, just three years after Netflix had started its ‘subscriber service’ and was establishing its way in the online video streaming scene. At that time, Blockbuster, a rival network, was well into traditional video rental service and was at its peak.
Hoping to get into a joint venture, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings approached Blockbuster CEO John Antioco and proposed to him to use Netflix to provide online service besides the rental service they were already providing. Even Reed was ready to sell Netflix for $50 million.
But the idea of online video streaming didn’t resonate with John Antioco and he rejected the offer while mocking Netflix.
And today…well…Netflix is valued at $70 billion and Blockbuster had gone bankrupt in 2010.
2. When McKinsey and Company failed to predict the explosion of cell phone market.
AT&T, currently world’s biggest telecom company, was planning to get into cell phone industry in early 80s. That time it was only in the telephone industry and was planning to expand the business.
AT&T decided to consult one of the world’s most trusted counselor, McKinsey and Company, about how to get an estimate of customer base by the year 2000. McKinsey and company analyzed the market and predicted that nearly 9,00,000 people would be using cell phones by 2000, which was not much.
This figure could have disappointed anyone but not AT&T. The company got into the cell phone business and by 2000, the number of cell phone user count crossed nearly 109 million.
Fast forward to 2017, even kids have cell phones. Most people carry more than one cell phone and AT&T is the world’s largest telecommunications company.
3. Yahoo had the opportunity to buy Google for $1 million.
Google, presently the biggest tech company in the world, was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998.
At that time Yahoo was well the most visited search engine and Google was nowhere. So Page and Brin tried to sell Google’s PageRank system to Yahoo for $1 million. Yahoo rejected the offer saying it was of no use.
Google’s PageRank system determines in which order different websites would be shown in a Google search result. It is the reason for Google’s rags-to-riches story.
In 2002, Yahoo realized its mistake and offered Google $3 billion to buy the company. But Google wanted $5 billion. Once again Yahoo missed the chance.
Now let’s have a look at their current situation. Google’s net worth has reached to $600 billion while Yahoo was sold to Verizon recently for $4.5 billion only.
4. Alternative Current was publicized as dangerous.
Nikola Tesla invented AC generator in 1892. That time Edison’s Direct Current system (DC system) was popularly in use. Fearing rivalry, Edison tried to turn down the idea of AC current. He asked his friends and colleagues to promote the idea that AC current was too dangerous.
Edison and his friends widely promoted that AC current would be the reason behind death of stray animals, which, to some extent worked. Edison even held public demonstrations to make people aware of its dangers. This came to be known as War of Currents.
But despite all the opposition, Tesla’s Alternating Current system became a success by 1902 and today, we are using AC system in our homes, industries and everywhere else. A perfect example of a new idea getting ridiculed and then finding success.
5. FedEx was labeled as an unfeasible idea by founder’s professor.
American multinational courier company FedEx was thought to be a bullshit idea by the college professor of the company’s founder.
Fred Smith, founder of FedEx, proposed the idea in a school paper about a courier service that would carry even smallest of things to any corner of the world. His professor mocked him and said that the idea was unfeasible. Also Fred was awarded a ‘C’. But Fred was sure about his idea. He started to ship smaller items during nights when airports were less crowded. On the first night, the company delivered 186 packages.
FedEx is today the leading courier service company around the globe and is at 58th position in 2017 Fortune 500 List. Its annual revenue in the year 2016 was more than $50 billion.
6. Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishers.
The first Harry Potter book was published in 1997, about 20 years ago. Even today, children prefer to start reading fiction with a Harry Potter book. Further, the movie series on it is so brilliantly filmed that it almost made its writer J.K. Rowling a billionaire.
But the journey was not that smooth.
Many publishers didn’t like the idea and rejected it. The manuscript of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ was rejected by 12 different publishers before it was accepted by a small publishing house called Bloomsbury. Even Rowling was so disheartened that at one event she accepted, “By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”
And today Harry Potter is a household name and probably will remain so for several hundreds of years to come.