From Rags to Riches: A Story of Two of the Biggest Names in Business

Every once in a while, a small idea grows into a multi-million dollar enterprise. These small business owners stumble upon an idea so simple that it is marketing genius. These owners enjoy the fruits of their labor, growing their humble ideas into profit powerhouses. Two such brands are Life is Good and Super Soaker.

From Broke Brothers to Billionaires

bert jacobs of life is good

In 1989, brothers John and Bert Jacobs had an idea. They wanted to sell t-shirts. They took their first designs and sold them on the streets of Boston for a few dollars in profit. They barely made enough to keep their budding enterprise afloat, and for years they subsisted on peanut butter sandwiches and soup. They persisted, trying idea after idea until one stuck. One day, while they were brainstorming on their next move, one of the brothers looked across the room to his original drawing of a smiling-faced stick figure, Jake. The brothers thought Jake would make a great addition to their product line. They printed up a few dozen t-shirts with his likeness and dragged them out to sell at a local street fair. They sold out within a few hours.

From there the brand “Life is Good” was born. Its simple message of enjoying life and all it has to offer has resonated across the globe. Today the “Life is Good” line is a multi-billion dollar company, producing a full line of tees, mugs and other printed materials. Jake has graced the covers of magazine as the company’s founders have enjoyed worldwide recognition. Today the company employs a full and productive staff in the Northeast. It also hosts “Life is Good” festivals dedicated to spreading their positive vibe across the country.

When Rocket Science Meets Child’s Play

Lonnie Johnson never imagined that his idea for a heat pump that used water instead of the more caustic freon would turn into a worldwide sensation. Working for the United States Air Force at the time, Johnson loved to tinker with new inventions. One night while perfecting his heat pump idea, he discovered that his pump-action gizmo would make a fantastic water gun. He shopped his idea around to several companies and found the door shut in his face time and again. He persisted, and after seven years of trying, he finally sold his product, now named the Super Soaker, to the Laramie company in 1989. The Super Soaker was an instant hit and hit sales of over $1,000,000 in just a few short months. Today Johnson owns his own company, Johnson Research and Development and has invented several other successful products.

These two companies rose from humble beginnings and genius minds to become some of the most successful brands on the market. These companies are an inspiration to small business owners everywhere.