Last Updated on August 23, 2020
Of the many great things yet to be invented, there is one category more likely to make you rich than any other. Consider this: Variations of existing products that need your “disposable refills.”
In the middle of the 19th century, one forgotten capitalist, William Painter got rich by inventing the disposable cork-lined screw top bottle cap. He passed on his “disposable” secret of success to a young tradesman named King Gillette. Gillette didn’t value the advice at first. Gillette supposedly said, “It is easy to give that kind of advice, but how many things are like corks…?” Then Gillette while shaving was intrigued with an idea using that concept. Could he come up with a variant that was better than the then commonly used “straight razor?” The existing product could be endlessly sharpened. Did it last a lifetime? However, it was not very safe.
He started in 1895 with a few thousand dollars of his savings. He made a prototype of a razor designed to be cheap enough to be thrown away. The biggest selling points were – greater safety and the time customers would save “honing and stropping.” Several years later, his homemade products were too expensive and he was seriously in debt. He had gained a reputation for foolishness.
Like Henry Ford, the bike shop owner who wanted to build the cheap car, he was greeted by colleagues with sniggers, “How’s your invention coming?” Gillette persisted. And eventually, by 1901, he had perfected what he was looking for – the first disposable “Safety Razor.” It had a two-sided steel blade. Gillette found a backer for his new invention.
This is easy to do today. A $150,000 angel investor bought half of his new company. The first factory opened. He gave away the chrome handle that held his blades with the first package of Gillette disposable razor blades. People tried it and recommended it to friends. He wrote to his wife. “Our fortune is made.” Gillette one of the most successful inventors in American history and he became a very rich man.
It took another 75 years until someone like you improved upon his product. A Frenchman named Marcel Bich in recent years took over much of the Gillette mass market with improved “disposable double blade BIC razors.” Triple and quad blades soon followed. The same man also invented and marketed cheap disposable BIC ball point pens and BIC lighters. Remember this! Any product can and will be eventually displaced by a new and /or improved models.
Before electric lights were common and there were only candles and whale oil lanterns, John D. Rockefeller used the same basic idea. He made his first fortune with a cheap “Kerosene Lamp.” Rockefeller had acquired a few oil wells in a deal. There was no market then for black crude oil which burned but didn’t smell good. So he gave away simple glass lamps for indoor use: “Free with the first purchase of a tin of “Standard Oil.”
Poorer people, who couldn’t afford beeswax candles didn’t mind the smell or the smoke. The early smoky and foul-smelling crude oil fuel improved quickly with new refining techniques.
Then came Kerosine Stoves for cooking. He made serious money on Standard Oil kerosene sold by vendors pushing around “wheel barrels” of his oil in China. The invention of the mass-produced automobile by Henry Ford created a new market for “Standard Oil.” The Standard Oil gas stations came next… The most recent product I know of in this category is the Nespresso coffee capsule.
What will your idea be? What product or service do you use now that can profit from the techniques of Gillette, Rockefeller & BIC. You don’t have to be an inventor. You will need a regular job to support yourself at first, but if you can come up with a product that uses your refills or replacements. Nowadays, disposable goods are the norm.
China itself has become rich producing disposable items. We have disposable everything: cutlery, cigarette lighters, and diapers. There’s a whole range of products that are so cheap and flimsy that they are also disposable. Think sunglasses and umbrellas and everything you buy at the Two Euro or Dollar stores.
But you will come up with something new or a variation. Or, if you don’t invent it you will spot it before it is too popular. You will find it and help market it.