5 Online Millionaires You’ve Never Heard About

Submitted by Dmitri Davydov on Thu, 2007-03-29 12:40.
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Maki Kaji - http://www.nikoli.co.jp/en/

Maki Kaji makes 4 million dollars a year … designing sudoku and kakuru puzzles. His private company, with just 20 employees, had annual sales of about $4 million in 2006. The core of his business is 50000 website members who test different versions of sudoku puzzles before the hit the market to determine winners. How many sudoku millionaires do you know?

Books Lambert - http://www.thebeerbelly.com

Books Lambert, who runs TheBeerbelly.com as president of Under Development Inc., is also someone who might have been viewed by some as having a less-than-perfect business model for his venture. But — after the press picked up on his contraption and he got 1 million hits to his fledgling site, as well as about 80 calls from offline media, including CNN and the like — he sold his electronics company, turned toward inventing full-time and his beer belly is jiggling as he laughs all the way to the bank. He just cleared a million. Lambert also uses a potent mix of marketing savvy and passion, spiced with some serendipity, to run his site. The Beerbelly, by the way, is a neoprene bag that fits under a shirt and can be used to avoid paying $9 for drafts at sporting events. This guy is my hero!

Patrick Misterovich - http://www.pezmp3.com

In July 2004, Patrick Misterovich was a stay-at-home dad when he read an article featuring an entrepreneur who had turned Altoid tins into iPod speakers. The idea inspired the 40-year-old ex-IT administrator to make a list of other possible candies and electronics that could be combined: laser pointers, Life Savers, USB drives. But nothing seemed to fit until he noticed “MP3 players” and “Pez dispensers” sitting idly on his list like two lost souls waiting for someone to play Cupid. The response has been positive, and current sales are at $1200000. In 2006, Misterovich sold out of his original production run and received approval from Pez to go forward with the second edition of Pez MP3 players, which have passed UL testing and will go into production early this year.

Jay Villemarette - http://www.skullsunlimited.com

OK, this is technically an offline business with online presence, but hear me out. Jay Villemarette cleans skeletons--mostly animal and human skulls--for a living. He owns Skulls Unlimited International and insists there's never a dull moment at the office. We'll take his word for it. After all, his company might be cleaning a gorilla skull one day and that of a chipmunk, a giraffe or a human the next. You probably wonder “Why would anyone want a skull, no matter how clean it is?" But museums, veterinary and medical schools, and other educational groups might take umbrage with that assessment. There are enough of these establishments, in fact, that Villemarette needs 13 full-time staffers and two part-timers and expects his company to break $2 million in sales this year.

Pascal Riffaud - http://www.primetimetables.com

New York restaurant booking service PrimeTime Tables - "specializing in impossible reservations" - has created a bit of a storm in the NYC/food blogging teacup. The service, touted as a very exclusive dining club, can procure members short-notice reservations at the hottest restaurants in New York, Miami, Colorado and The Hamptons, many of which are booked weeks in advance.


The company was founded by Pascal Riffaud, former concierge at hotels like the St. Regis in New York and the Ritz in Paris. Mr Riffaud also runs Personal Concierge International, a concierge service that can enhance its members' lives in many ways, including access to 'fully committed' restaurants. Premium membership costs USD 450 per year, plus reservation fees (free for reservations acquired the same day before noon), while non-members pay between USD 35-45 per booking, depending on how far in advance they book (48 hours - same day). Pascal just made his first million and has no intention of going back to his concierge job. I wonder why.

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