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The 12 Best Nathan For You Business Plans, Ranked

Before he became the unhinged mastermind behind HBO's hilarious docu-comedy "The Rehearsal," Nathan Fielder was a business mogul and venture capitalist on the Comedy Central reality show, "Nathan for You." In the four-season series, Nathan visits small, struggling establishments, and brainstorms ways for them to drum up business. His straightforward, no-nonsense, awkward demeanor is perfect for today's modern, cutthroat marketplace.

Nathan's plans are a little untraditional and questionable, but always formed with the good intention of helping these establishments to bring in more customers and profits. Nonbelievers may describe his antics in confidence-depleting terms like "completely insane" or "ludicrous," but that doesn't necessarily mean they're guaranteed to fail. A lot of his ideas are actually really successful, and they can't all be winners, can they? Granted, a vast majority of Nathan's ideas are severely impractical and downright garbage, but some of them are legitimately solid, viable business plans with huge potential. Here are 12 of those plans.

12. Pet Mania

Season 2, Episode 3 features one of Nathan's more creative, albeit dark, business plans to date. While the episode focuses on a small pet store, Pet Mania, it's far from the playful, tail-wagging energy that might typically accompany such an establishment. Nathan's idea to bring more customers to the store involves advertising; not on television or on bus benches, but at a local pet cemetery.

There's actually a fair amount that goes into this plan, including Nathan adopting and caring for a pet fly by the name of Buzz. The insect eventually passes away, and in addition to Nathan hiring a rabbi to perform a funeral service for the deceased fly, he also has an absurdly oversized gravestone made featuring an advertisement for Pet Mania. Not only is this an exhaustive effort, but it's also a pricey one. Nathan gets in into a heated back-and-forth negotiation with the cemetery, eventually settling on a price of several thousand dollars to place the stone.

While it's not the cheapest or most cheery business plan, it's not exactly a fruitless one. After all, Pet Mania would likely be the only pet store advertising at the cemetery and it would definitely spark attention. It might take a while to actually produce results, but if you have the time and resources to invest (as well as a tolerance for morally questionable business practices), then there should be no reason not to try it out.

11. Haunted house

In Season 1, Episode 5, Nathan approaches a haunted house business with an idea for how they can up their game. While haunted houses are scary by nature, they're also fake, and customers know that. Usually, you get a few jump scares, or maybe get grossed out by some fake blood, and then you go about your day. Good business can be done that way, but if you want to give people the thrill of a lifetime, you need to be inventive about it, which Nathan definitely is.

The owner of the haunted house agrees to let Nathan try out an incredibly unorthodox idea, and boy is it a doozy. Rather than scare people with chain-saw-toting psychopaths, Nathan uses these as red herrings for the real fright — making people think they've contracted a deadly disease in the house. This actually works and the visitors become genuinely concerned for their life. This episode is definitely one to watch for fans of "The Rehearsal" for the absurdity alone.

It's a brilliant plan that more haunted houses should consider. What's scarier — cobwebs and clowns, or things that might affect you in real life? It doesn't have to be just that either, there are countless fears and anxieties to prey on. You could make guests think their identity has been stolen, or they've been fired from their job. Anything to get the blood pumping.

10. Car wash

Nathan comes up with a variety of ideas to help Los Feliz Car Wash bring in more customers in Season 2, Episode 4. One of his many suggestions includes encouraging the owner to keep his personal office extremely messy so that customers think he only cares about cleaning cars, as they are his sole priority. However, this is not what shines through in this segment.

Nathan's true lightbulb moment is the idea to bring in flocks of birds to plant on tree branches hanging above cars parked near the car wash. The concept is that the birds will lay their droppings on these cars and force the owners to seek out local cleaning services, of which Los Feliz is the most convenient option. Not only that, but upon approaching the wash, customers will also notice their new "bird droppings" special and be inclined to opt for that service.

Including this as one of Nathan's best business plans is not to suggest following this schema to the tee will work. Bringing in a large number of birds is not the most practical use of time or resources for a car wash, and the whole thing is also just morally questionable. Creating demand is one thing, but this is just wrong. However, it would be a good idea to reverse engineer the plan: find an area that has a lot of birds and set up your wash there. It's foolproof!

9. Dumb Starbucks

While most "Nathan for You" episodes are divided into two or three segments, with each focusing on a different business, the entirety of Season 2, Episode 5 is dedicated to just one plan, and it's much deserved. Here, Nathan approaches a struggling coffee shop, Helio Cafe, with the idea that they use parody to help them out of their financial rut.

Despite some skepticism from the owner, Nathan is granted permission to totally rebrand the coffee shop into a "Dumb Starbucks," an all but total rip-off of the company and one of the world's most popular and established coffee chains. Everything about the store is almost identical to a Starbucks, only with slight differences and alterations here and there to make it just different enough to avoid violating any copyright or ownership laws.

This plan actually works for Nathan, with Dumb Starbucks lines going around the block, and even making it onto the local news. It draws in a variety of new customers — from those curious about what a Dumb Starbucks is and hipster types looking to get in on the ironic, anti-corporate mission of the store, to people who have downright mistaken it for an actual Starbucks. The only snag in the plan is a fairly heated exchange with one lawyer (presumably representing Starbucks), but if you're confident with your legal team, there's no reason not to give this plan a go.

8. Ghost realtor

In Season 2, Episode 1, Nathan is working with a local realtor by the name of Sue Stanford. His plan for Sue involves a total rebranding of her business from your average, run-of-the-mill realtor to the rare, one-of-a-kind "ghost realtor." Nathan pitches that she guarantees to all prospective buyers of the homes that she is selling are "entirely ghost-free."

Of course, anyone can say that their houses are void of paranormal disturbances. For this plan to actually work, they need some way to verify the claim. Nathan recruits a psychic to walk through Sue's listings and confirm that there are no evil presences. Unfortunately, the psychic actually does find an evil spirit, and when Sue divulges this information to potential buyers, it's clear that they're put off.

There's no way Sue is going to be able to sell a house from hell, so Nathan finds a priest on Craigslist to remove the demon from the residence. This starts off as a straightforward cleansing but soon escalates into a full-fledged exorcism, with Sue and the priest working together to cast out the demon they both claim has attached itself to her. As demonstrated by Sue, there are a lot of believers out there, and when offered a choice between haunted or not, they're going to go with the realtor that can guarantee the latter. It's a brilliant re-branding, so long as you're willing to do the work.

7. Summit Ice

This is perhaps Nathan's most successful, practical business plan to date, and it wasn't even one of the primary segments in the episode it's featured in. Season 3, Episode 2 focuses on two plans: one to help a women's clothing boutique, and another aimed at helping overweight individuals take horseback riding lessons.

However, whilst carrying out these plans, Nathan finds out that his favorite jacket is produced by a company that celebrates a holocaust denier. As retaliation, Nathan creates a socially conscious clothing brand, Summit Ice, dedicated to remembering the Holocaust and encouraging education on its tragic history. He sets up a display in a clothing store, and while the initial response was underwhelming, Nathan later told CBC News that over $500,000 worth of products were sold. He also revealed that he would donate $150,000 to the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre.

Unlike the vast majority of Nathan's ideas, there's nothing wacky, awkward, or impractical about this plan. It's a legitimately solid business venture, and it produced impressive results. This is just such a crazy and unexpected turn for something that started as an improvised offshoot. That's pure talent right there. Take notes, business major, that's how you hustle.

6. The man zone

Nathan comes to the aid of Elizabeth Albert in Season 3, Episode 2, a women's clothing boutique looking to increase its number of daily customers. Nathan doesn't know a lot about women's clothing, so at first, there's some doubt as to what insight he can possibly offer this store, but he then figures that a man's point of view is just what the store needs.

He suggests to the owner that there be a section of the store designated as the "man zone," where men can go to hang out while they wait for their female partners to finish shopping. According to Nathan, men hate having to go shopping with their girlfriends. It's like purgatory for them. Nathan doesn't have a girlfriend himself, so he's not speaking from personal experience, but he's overheard other men complain about it. There has to be a better way, and the man zone is it.

At first, as men start filing in, things are somewhat rocky. However, this is only because Nathan is having a hard time relating to them. Once he figures out that all guys need to bond over is sports and beer, they start to really click, and everyone has a good time. Unfortunately for the guys, the owner is put off by the beer and asks Nathan to shut the whole thing down. It was working for a while though, and that's really the big takeaway here.

5. Petting zoo

In Season 1, Episode 2, Nathan is hoping to save a struggling petting zoo from being forced to shut down. According to him, the petting zoo is missing an x-factor. It needs a big attraction or personality to draw visitors in, like how crowds flock to SeaWorld to get even the tiniest glimpse of Shamu. They need their star, but how are they going to get one?

It's clear to Nathan that Oak Glenn Petting Zoo doesn't exactly host the cream of the crop when it comes to its offerings and attractions. None of the cute animals are really popping at him. However, Nathan has an idea. They don't need to have their celebrity pet, they can just make one. Nathan produces an extremely complicated viral video of a "hero" pig saving a baby goat from drowning in one of the zoo's small ponds. To everyone's surprise, the video is actually really convincing and a star is born.

The only reason this plan fails to drum up any business for the zoo is because Nathan took the zoo's name out of the video, which drew millions of views, for fear of it ever coming out that it was staged. If Nathan hadn't succumbed to his paranoia, Oak Glenn Petting Zoo might have become the next destination spot for furry-friend-loving tourists.

4. Daddy's Watching

Nathan attempts to help an online dating service attract more female users in Season 2, Episode 6. Given that he lives in a state of perpetual awkwardness, it makes sense that he suggests the service appeal to women's sense of comfortability on dates and around unfamiliar men. He points out that with online dating, you never really know who's on the other side of the screen, and this can be a very reasonable cause for alarm and deter women from using websites such as this.

Nathan suggests that the website offer a private security service to better ensure female customers will remain safe on their dates. The only reason it doesn't go quite as planned is that Nathan insists he be the security guard in the trial run, and proceeds to do so in the most creepy way possible. He's clearly playing it up for the cameras, and it doesn't help that he names the service "Daddy's Watching."

Despite how disturbing Nathan acts in the episode, if you were to actually implement this with someone who isn't trying to be funny for reality television, it might actually be a good idea. It would perhaps be a little unrealistic or logistically complicated to have actual security guards watching people as they went out on dates, but the basic ground-level concept of enhanced surveillance on dating sites seems like a really marketable idea.

3. Taxi company

In Season 1, Episode 8, Nathan comes up with a truly brilliant idea for a taxi company to up its customer service game by giving riders an option as to whether or not they want to have a conversation with their driver. If you've ever taken a taxi or Uber, you know there's always that slight anxiety regarding what the proper etiquette is between the driver and rider. Is it rude to not want to talk to them, or is it rude to try and start up a conversation with someone while they're at work? Either way, you're both hostages in the situation, so if you could have a predetermined agreement for the trip, it could just erase all that uneasiness and allow you to enjoy the ride in peace (whatever that looks like to you).

The only snag Nathan encounters when trying out this idea is when riders opt to have a conversation with their driver and are presented with options for conversational topics. One rider chooses marine life, and the driver, not having studied the material Nathan provided for him, has to stumble through their exchange, making up facts about whales and their native habitats. If the driver had studied these topics though, this plan would've worked. Plus, it just wouldn't be "Nathan for You" if there was zero awkwardness. Uber and Lyft need to be taking notes because a lot of people might actually really appreciate having this option.

2. Exterminator

Nathan brainstorms ways to help out an extermination company in Season 2, Episode 4. He argues that while hotels make up a significant portion of exterminators' customers, these hotels probably aren't too proud to have to be doing so, and definitely don't want guests concerned about infestations. Most potential guests who walk into a hotel and see an exterminator are likely going to rethink their lodging options, while current guests who see this probably aren't going to be handing out glowing reviews. 

To combat this issue, Nathan suggests that the company offer the hotels they service the option to carry out the exterminations undercover, or in disguise, so guests don't know about the pest issues they're having. Of course, Nathan offers to complete a trial run of exactly how this would play out, hopefully reassuring any doubts his new business partner or the hotels they service might have. Disguised as a maid, Nathan sneaks the extermination equipment through the lobby inside a large trophy boasting a plaque that reads: "Hotel with the least amount of bed bugs."

He also stages a series of distractions to divert guests' attention. The plan actually runs fairly smoothly, with no guests voicing any suspicions about this activity, but the hotel manager is somewhat put off by all the hubbub and moving parts. However, if an extermination company could figure out a way to simplify and streamline this plan, it might give them a real competitive edge in the pest control marketplace.

1. Mechanic

One of Nathan's most brilliant business plans comes in the first episode of Season 2 when he signs on to help a small automotive shop, G & Y Auto Repair. He pitches that the mechanics at the shop be hooked up to a polygraph test while they give quotes to customers so that they know they're not just being cheated or upsold.

Given that most people don't have an extensive working knowledge of automotive repairs, it's hard to tell when you're being taken advantage of. How do you know if something is actually broken, or what it costs to fix or replace it? You usually just have to take the mechanic at their word, but Nathan's plan completely eliminates that problem. Of course, this only works if the mechanic is giving accurate quotes to customers, and not just trying to take advantage of them.

The only reason this business plan isn't being implemented by auto shops everywhere is that it's simply a strange and tedious process to have mechanics hooked up to these curious machines every time they talk to customers. Technology hasn't caught up yet, but when it does, this plan is the ticket to the top for mechanics everywhere.