Money for nothing: How to get rich off smarts, spin and free (or super cheap) stuff

Jonathan Berr

Successful business people know how to turn lemons into lemonade. Good products can be almost as simple.

In a world of music-playing phones, internet-enabled refrigerators and satellite-based car navigation, some companies have found success with such low-tech products as urine, mud and even air. This is not the "money for nothing" Dire Straits sang about in its classic hit from 1985, but it's awfully close.

The products that we are highlighting show that successful businesses do not always come from multi-billion dollar corporate research and development departments. Indeed, inspiration comes in many forms for these inventors. But all have figured out how to turn something mundane into something people want.

Consider these examples:

From dirt to dollars. For AHAVA, it's about location, specifically the Dead Sea in Israel whose "black mineral mud ... has been shown to contain healing properties that are ideal for the treatment of a wide variety of joint diseases and skin conditions," according to the company's Web site. It's expensive, too. A 12-ounce container was on sale for $9.99 on Cleopatra's Choice.com.

People wanting a bit of Ireland can purchase four bags of "Official Irish Dirt" along with shamrock seeds for $20.

For baseballs with that major league feel, check out Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud, the substance used before each game to remove the factory gloss and make balls easier to grip. It costs $50 for a 32-ounce container. (Remember that regular potting soil costs less than $5.)