Names: Richard Foss and Harold Bronson.
Ages: Richard, 50yrs and Harold, 49yrs.
'Foolish' Idea: Selling old records.
How Idea was Launched: Set up shop, Rhino Records.
Earnings: Sold Rhino to Warner Music Group for an undisclosed price, with a lucrative 5 year management contract for both Richard and Harold. Industry sources valued Rhino to the tune of $100million.
A sociology student at USC in 1969, Richard Foss bought a box of old used jazz and blues records for $3. He sold each one for $1.
Using the boot of his car, he drove around flea markets for a year, keeping a careful inventory of purchases and sales. The idea looked so promising that in 1973, Richard leased space in the back of an electronics store.
Without preparing a business plan, setting up finance, or even a sure source of records, Richard next moved into a little hole-in-the-wall store. He named his business, Rhino Records, from his decision to charge ahead so unprepared. Then Richard met journalist student, Harold Bronson, and the two became partners of Rhino records.
Their store was soon furnished with tables and sofas they scrounged from a frat house, with lamps, a desk and telephone salvaged from the dustbin of a supermarket. Neither partner took much in the way of wages from the business.
They dreamed up crazy promotions to attract customers; like Hassle the Salesman Day, Redneck Day and Polka Day. These fun tactics encouraged music fans to pour into their Rhino Records store.
Next, Richard and Harold hit upon the idea to produce a song, Go to Rhino. It was performed by a street musician and recorded on a handheld tape recorder. But the song became a cult hit on Los Angeles radio stations. Rhino's first album soon followed. It was a collection of tunes from the same street musician and the album cost $500 to produce. It was an instant hit.
A second Rhino Records store was opened. Before long, Richard and Harold hit upon the idea of repackaging and reissuing collections of great old hits. They were able to buy licenses for peanuts, because the major music companies regarded reissues as unprofitable. "We took the crumbs the giant competitors dropped - and we did well," said Harold.
Today, Rhino sell thousands of CDs and cassettes covering old songs. The company no longer belongs to the two men who started it all in their student days.
Warner Music Group purchased the business. Industry sources valued Rhino to the tune of $100million.
Richard Foss has this advice to pass onto other entrepreneurs: "Do what you love. We put out albums we would like to buy."