4 Products That Prove a Mistake Can Turn Into Millions

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4 Products That Prove a Mistake Can Turn Into Millions

The startup world can be tough enough when you have a winning idea. But add to the startup landscape the 80% failures that are par for the course, and the dismal scene becomes a place for only the most tenacious of entrepreneurs.

History is replete with examples of entrepreneurs who failed again and again and again, then succeeded in unexpected ways. The light bulb, everyone’s favorite example of tenacity in the face of failure, eventually came into existence after much trial and error. But many of your favorite products and edibles were never even meant to be.

Forged in the kitchens and labs, no one expected these mistakes would one day take over the world. Check out these 4 products that came out of failures and mistakes to renew your own commitment to your startup.

1) Penicillin

Little did Alexander Fleming know as he set out to create a miracle cure for diseases that the solution was in the failure. Frustrated at his inability to produce the result he was looking for, he ditched the experiment. Soon, he found his contaminated tools were growing a mold that eliminated bacteria around it. Astounded and with renewed interest, he tested it and discovered his wonder drug.

2) Chocolate chip cookies

This tasty morsel was a very fortunate mistake at the Toll House Inn. Finding she had run out of chocolate for her chocolate cookies, Ruth Wakefield innovatively broke up and tossed in some pieces of a chocolate bar, thinking it would melt and diffuse to create her desired results. Much to her chagrin, when she opened the oven the chocolate pieces hadn’t changed their shape. But then, she tasted it, and lo and behold, the world was never the same.

3) Silly Putty

The world was at war for the second time, and well-meaning Americans were joining the effort by creating products to meet military needs. Rubber, used for boots, tires, and much more, was difficult to come by as Japan attached many of the manufacturing plants abroad. GE engineer James Wright innovatively tried to create a synthetic rubber from silicone, but ended up with a bouncy, pliable goop that nobody seemed to want—except for every child in America. Forty-two percent of startups fail because they don’t meet a market need. But Wright slapped a fun name onto the unclaimed substance and packaged it to sell, branding an American past time that has stood the test of time.

4) Superglue

Harry Coover of Eastman Kodak set out to create a tool to aide Americans in World War II. After years of failed experiments trying to utilize the chemical, cyanoacrylate, for a variety of products, Coover became frustrated. It was far too sticky to be of any good use. But, like any good specialist, he considered the properties of what had been his weapon of choice, and was surprised to find that it created a revolutionary permanent bond between objects without heat or pressure. It took him some time to get the branding right, but eventually his product really ‘stuck’.

So whether you’re at the pinnacle of success or facing another failure, take heart. Mistakes and failures aren’t the end. Sometimes they are just the unexpected path to a new beginning.

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