Monkey Goods

In 1998, a code monkey (aka programmer) named Adam had a dream. He dreamed of a world where, one day, an infinite number of monkeys in front of an infinite number of typewriters would type all of the works of Shakespeare. With this dream, he founded The SIMI Project. The Search for Intelligent Monkeys on the Internet.

His site at grew in fame as people recognized that he was spoofing the SETI@home project. Since, it seems, everyone loves a good spoof, modest success and occasional mentions in print and online press followed.

Recognizing this clearly fleeting fame, Adam did what any self-respecting person with a modestly successful "humor" website would do: he started to sell t-shirts.

Two years later, with few t-shirts sold and a large box of SIMI Project shirts taking up space on his desk, he dreamed of starting a photo lab.

Did we mention that Adam has ADHD?

Over the next six months, Adam spent his spare time researching and writing a business plan for a digital photo lab that would revolutionize the consumer photo printing business. After months of design, preparation and market research, he simply had to raise $300,000 and the dream of a digital photo lab would be his. It turns out, however, that raising $300,000 is not very easy.

Adam, or Mr. A. as his new and favorite assistant likes to call him, decided to downscale his vision of an Apple-store-like photo lab and stick to what he knew best: Oh, look. Something shiny. Did we mention that Adam has ADHD?

It had been nearly 3 years since the SIMI Project was founded and the mostly full box of t-shirts was now kept company by a mostly full box of SIMI Project pens and bumper stickers. There was very little room on  Mr. A's desk for his mouse -- let alone one of those giant 90's style boxy monitors. Something had to be done.

Adam's new vision for his photo lab was to avoid raising $300,000 and instead open something online using free, open-source ecommerce software. He dreamed of a website where amateur photographers could buy cameras and get expert advice. However, it turns out that the margin on digital cameras for a small, online store was really, really awful. Adam would have to spend $300 on a camera he could sell for only $305. This seemed like a horrible business model.

One day, while picking up his daughter from day care -- the same day care that would one day host the children of Britney Spears (yes, this has nothing to do with the story but it's true) -- Adam was in the office explaining why his daughter's monthly tuition was late and that's when he saw it. It was glorious. It was a catalog of cheap novelties that included everything from 30 cent, glow-in-the-dark rings to 7-foot inflatable palm trees.

As he thumbed through the catalog, he saw the kind of thing that most people daydream about when they have a minor fever and haven't eaten for a few days. It was a monkey keychain that looks like it's pooping when you squeeze it.

The photo lab needed an online store. The world also needed pooping monkey key chains.

Adam launched initially as to test-drive various ecommerce software packages that he intended to use to sell cameras despite the horrible margins. It was only fitting to first sell a pooping monkey keychain.

By this time the SIMI Project's modest success had evolved into a modestly popular site with a virtual monkey trying to type a Shakespearian sonnet. This site had a following of nearly 2,000 active users. Even more modest success, it seemed, was just around the corner.

After uploading the code for his new ecommerce site and populating the store with the newly purchased pooping monkey key chains, the left-over t-shirts on his desk, the unused bumper stickers and the SIMI Project pens, Adam did the unthinkable. He spammed his entire list of 2,000 people to announce that the SIMI Project was now selling pooping monkey key chains, left-over t-shirts, unused bumper stickers and SIMI Project pens. He pressed send, laughed, felt ashamed, cried in the shower and then went to bed.

The next morning, there were 3 orders. The day after that, there were 2. Within a week 11 orders for pooping monkey key chains, t-shirts, bumper stickers and pens had been shipped.

A month later, was born.