The good news for us is that Harold Camping was wrong. Camping, who heads the Family Radio station, had proclaimed that May 21 was the 'day of rapture' and the start of Judgment Day. Luckily the end of the world did not arrive last weekend, and only time will tell what Camping will offer by way of an explanation. But one thing that is abundantly clear is that opportunists are rife! Hundreds of entrepreneurial schemes popped up, hoping to make money from the prophesied apocalypse. It seems that for entrepreneurs, the anxiety of the end of the world has created a sizable market. (For some of the greatest people in business, check out The 10 Greatest Entrepreneurs.)
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Here are a few of the slightly unusual ways in which the business people of America have been profiting from the prophecy.
1. Pet Heaven
Bart Centre, a New Hampshire atheist, author and entrepreneur, saw an opportunity for pet insurance. His business, Eternal Earthbound Pets, has been selling insurance to Fundamentalist Christian pet owners who believe they'll be raptured into heaven ahead of the apocalypse. For those who were worried about what might happen to their dogs and cats when they're gone, Mr. Centre proposed a solution. His team of committed atheists would collect and look after the pets of those who believed they would no longer be around to take care of them. To quote the company's strap-line, it was offering believers, "The next best thing to pet salvation in a post-rapture world". Centre had more than 250 clients who have paid up to $135 to have their pets cared for post rapture. But his clients would be disappointed twice, he told the Wall Street Journal. "Once because they weren't raptured, and again because I don't do refunds."
2. Apocalypse Fashion
A California company called Rapture Wear has been selling jewelery inscribed with biblical verses ahead of Judgment Day. Asking believers, "What will you leave behind?" the jewelery is designed to be left on earth with messages for those who have not been saved, and has proved particularly popular for this latest prediction. Gary Rovarino, the company's general manager, said "As we enter a period of [cultural] decline, it drives people our way."
3. Final Message
Unsure as to whether or not email will feature in the after-life, believers have been signing up for earthly services offering to send their final correspondence on their behalf. For a fee, their last thoughts will be sent out to a pre-selected group. Mark Heard, a 52-year-old evangelical Christian from Harwich, says of the final remarks, "Hopefully the messages won't be, 'Ha-ha, I told you so; you're going to hell'. Ideally it will be, 'I hope this is enough evidence that what I told you was correct and you still have time to be accept Jesus Christ and be saved.'"
4. There's an App for That
One smartphone app has been designed which promises to give users a 30 minute notice in advance of the rapture, or Judgment Day. The "Rapture Detector" application offers a somewhat unconventional religious strategy, telling users that, "Sin, lust and fornication can be yours again!" because the Detector's half-hour heads-up provides just enough time to repent and join those who've been pure all along.
A Question of Morals?
Whilst many of these ideas are relatively comical, the question may be raised as to whether these companies are really just exploiting vulnerable people. Is there a moral issue with offering services that you firmly believe you will never have to provide? Whatever the answer, many businesses will continue turning this prophesied disaster into legitimate profit. (To help you come up with a good small business idea, check out 10 Breakout Ideas For Small Businesses.)