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It all started with chocolate pudding.

But then it was vanilla pudding, tapioca, then Jello, Fruit Cocktail, and finally the salisbury steak. The food fight that Tommy and Davey Gardner started that day was the biggest, costliest food fight in history of Springfield Elementary School. There were 121 casualties that went through the nurses office that afternoon. Most of them were scrapes and bruises, but the worst was a dislocated pinky, ironically Tommy Gardner's dislocated pinky.

Now you would have thought they would have learned, especially after they got home to receive the punishment from their father. They were locked in a room with nothing but shareholder letters from Warren Buffet, the financial statements of Betty Crocker, two pencils, a ream of paper, and a slide rule. They were not allowed to leave until they figured out what the intrinsic value of Betty Crocker was using a discounted cash flow analysis given a bond yield of 5.0% They did it and did it right, and it only took them 3 hours. But from that day, these two brothers swore off the financial markets. They wanted to work in food service.

That's what led to the Lemonade Stand incident of 1978. Apparently, Davey convinced Tommy that they could start a business making lemonade and selling on Main Street in Downtown Springfield. With the help of their father, they built a cart with wheels and installed a cooler and rolled it down to Main and First. At first, everything went quite well. They had carefully calculated the break even point for each cup of lemonade and determined the number of ice cubes needed to keep the lemonade cool on those sticky 90 degree July Springfield afternoons. They were a huge hit. But then it happened. Davey, always the Rulebreaker, thought it would be cool to see what would happen if they gave away their lemonade as long as people signed up for high-speed internet access for one full year. Of course, since noone knew what the internet was, they lost everything. The bank (Dad) foreclosed on the lemonade stand and during the ensuing investigation found out that Davey had been selling lemonade futures to a wholly owned subsidiary of The Motley Lemonade Stand and then recording that as sales.

But from there it just got rediculous. In high school, Tom and Dave started a prom escort service. It was completely above board, but no one ever paid their bills to the Gardner brothers. At the end of May, 1983, they found themselves owing $12,000 to the Springfield Limosine Company and all of their "friends" were not returning their calls. The Limo company worked out a deal so that Tom and Dave had to wax every limosine in the 30 limo fleet once a week for the rest of the summer. "Wax on! Wax Off!" They never got a penny from the Karate Kid.

That fall, Dave went off to college and started reading Rasputin and courting lovely young North Carolinian coeds. Tom joined the high school football team and broke the single season record for most fumbles by a punt returner in Springfield High School history. But his mastery of clever quips helped to keep him from being beaten up by his teammates.

As it turned out, the next few years were pretty uneventful for the Gardners. Until 1990, when Tom graduated from Brown University with a liberal arts degree and $35,000 in school loans. He had no choice but to go to the dark side. He went to McDonald's and said, "David , quit your job. I've got a plan." David agreed and they started doing freelance stock research for Goldman Sach's. They soon found out that the only stock screen Goldman used for their recommended list was if the CEO had a dog. When they started showing Goldman a DCF analysis of Cisco and said that might be a good investment, they fired them on the spot and gave them $140,000 in hush money and two tickets to Fiji. They told them not to come back until there was a new President in office.

When the Gardner's got back from Fiji, they realized that the internet they had invented with then Vice-President Gore had become a reality and that it was going to be big. They founded an online search engine called HOUYHNHNM.com based on the legendary rational horse-like creatures from Gulliver's Travels. Unfortunately, no one could remember how to spell the name of their web site, and the Gardners quickly went out of business. But they learned a very important lesson that year, "Your better off naming your business something pronounceable even if the name means a bunch of degraded humanoids enslaved by rational horses."

From there, it is pretty much history.
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