Over the years, I've had a few good ideas. I'd like to think that coming up with the concept for the company that would eventually become OnMilwaukee.com, back in 1996, was one of the better ones (granted, it took two years to turn it into reality).
I've also had more than my share of bad ideas. All were hatched with good intentions, but fortunately for the world, only a few have come to pass.
This isn't a complete list of my cockamamie ideas, but it's a start. I'd love to hear your own bad ideas. Admit them to Milwaukee using the Talkback feature below.
1996: All That and A Bag of Chips -- After my first and only trip to the Mall of America, I devised a concept for a store that, with every purchase, gave shoppers a free bag of chips. What the primary purchase was didn't really matter. It's probably a good thing I didn't pursue this idea, as its 15 minutes of fame would've passed faster than a glove store called Talk To The Hand.
1999: Overstuffed RV to Las Vegas -- As Y2K approached, I had the hare-brained idea of packing nine people into a six-person RV and driving from Milwaukee to Las Vegas to celebrate the millennium/end of the world. This was one of the worst ideas I ever had. It turned into a stinky, angry and expensive mess, and we almost trashed the rented RV, which we returned reeking of Febreeze and held together with duct tape. Friendships and relationships ended because of this fool's errand, which led me to the conclusion that RVs are much better in theory than in practice.
2000: The Toiletron2000 -- I won't gross you out with the details, but about 10 years ago I "invented" a reverse bidet of sorts, that involved climbing into a rubber diaper and attaching a wet/dry vac. Fortunately, this idea never made it past the sketch phase, but I was convinced there was a market for the lazy man's toilet of the future.
2001: The $10,000 tattoo -- Ah, those were the days ... right before the dot com bubble burst and we were flush with our investors' money, I challenged any OnMilwaukee.com employee to get a visible tattoo of our logo (i.e., not on the butt), and I would pay them $10,000 in cold, hard cash. I think our graphic designer at the time, Mike Brenner, almost got the Hoan Bridge tattooed on his forehead. In retrospect, I'm glad he didn't.
2004: Under-the-desk exercise bike -- Sitting at my computer one day, I pondered if there was a better way to put my body to work during the 40+ hours each week I sit basically perfectly still. I sketched up a prototype of a mini exercise bike, then realized this product actually existed. Putting my money where my mouth was, I bought the tiny bike for $99 from Sharper Image. Turns out it was loud and annoying to my coworkers, plus, I was less efficient at work while I was panting and sweating. I returned it after about a week.
2010: 100 ugliest people in Milwaukee list -- Hot on the heels of a surprising amount of flack for our latest 100 hottest and coolest Milwaukeeans lists, I joked in the office about the reaction we'd get for publishing the 100 ugliest people in Milwaukee list. Clearly, this is a terrible idea, way beyond cockamamie. But if things go south here, and I choose to go down in a blaze of glory, look out, Milwaukee. This just may be the final article I ever write as I'm run out of town in a rented RV.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.