Quirky business ideas that caught the public imagination

We all love hearing about an unusual business idea that’s been successful – whether it’s an unlikely new product or a completely different way to provide a service. To help drive new ideas and innovation in businesses across Britain, British Gas is sponsoring this year’s Smarta 100 Award for Most Innovative Business.

The aim of the award is to recognise the businesses that have revolutionised their industries by creating a company that’s truly unique. Last year’s winner, Eco Egg, dazzled the judges with their reusable laundry products that are kind to your pocket as well as the environment.

In honour of this year’s award, we decided to take a look at four other companies that made a successful business out of a totally bonkers idea.

Innocent Smoothies

Who knew that a company that started selling smoothies at a music festival would grow to be one of the biggest drinks companies in the world? In 2000 Innocent managed to get its drinks trialled in 10 Waitrose stores and since then there has been no looking back.

It now houses its numerous employees in a building it calls Fruit Towers, an office carpeted in Astroturf, a Lego wall for staff, and a whole range of delicious smoothies, juices, and even noodle pots that are sold nationwide.


Many teenagers these days might say that the internet is the way they’re going to make their millions, but for Fraser Doherty it was jam that made him worth around £2 million.

He started by recreating his grandmother’s jam recipes in his parents’ kitchen and at 16 he turned his company, SuperJam, into a full-time job. He now sells around 500,000 jars every year, making up 10% of the UK jam market.


Designer shoes, designer handbags, and now you can buy designer light bulbs. Plumen have created the world’s first designer low-energy light bulbs that not only look after the planet but look great in your home too. We bet bills from their business electricity suppliers are low!


Whether you need cardboard boxes or you want to get rid of them you can now do it the eco-friendly way. Launched in 2008, Boxcycle puts people who either need or want to get rid of cardboard boxes in touch with each other.

The entire transaction is done online so that now, instead of throwing out unwanted boxes businesses and individuals can sell them to those who need them.

Have you created a business out of a new idea? Are there other businesses we should include in our roundup? Let us know by adding a comment below.

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