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The incredible story of the million dollar homepage

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Alex Tew hit a home run with his first venture – The Million Dollar Homepage.

Have you ever been in the shower and thought of a “Million Dollar Idea”? Well, Alex Tew has, when he was 21 years old (I can’t confirm he was in the shower). What set’s Alex apart is he that he executed on his random idea, and it paid off. But that was just the beginning of his story.

The years is 2005 and Alex is 21, studying at university and beginning to ponder ideas to make money. Originally Alex was thinking of small objects he could sell on the internet (This was new back then). He was looking at a typical volume-based business. Sell a large number of low-cost products to millions of people. 

All of a sudden, Alex had a unique idea, an idea that hasn’t been done before. What about a web page that has a million pixels and you sell each pixel for $1.

Within a couple of days, Alex brought the domain name – MillionDollarHomePage.com and the idea came to life.

It was such a simple idea! He would sell pixels to advertisers and have a minimum purchase of 100 pixels (10×10 pixel block) for $100. The advertisers could put whatever they want in their little bit of real estate and it would link back to their website. There was only one rule, no porn.  

To get this little business up and running, Alex convinced his family and friends to purchase nearly 5000 pixels. Alex used this money for some PR. It didn’t take long for the story was picked up by The Guardian and the BBC.

How much did the Million Dollar Homepage make?

In the first month, Alex managed to sell about $250K in advertising and his site was getting about 65K visits per day. After four months the site was sold out! 

To offload the final 1000 pixels, Alex auctioned it off on eBay, the winning bid paid 38K. Alex made a total of $1.4 million from his business venture!

Alex Tew hit a home run with his first venture - The Million Dollar Homepage.
Alex Tew hit a home run with his first venture – The Million Dollar Homepage.

After taxes, Tew had about $700k in his pocket and some internet fame. He didn’t need uni anymore. Alex’s newly found fortune lead him down the path of launching a series of similar businesses including PixelLotto and OneMillionPeople. Unfortunately, he couldn’t replicate his first success. 

After a bit of stress in his life, Alex turned to meditation. This lead to one more idea. Alex made another website – donothingfor2minutes.com. On this site, a user would watch some waves on the screen and do nothing at all, for 2 minutes. If the cursor moved, the clock would start again. 

Alex Tew turned this idea of relaxation and meditation into an app. Alex was initially laughed at by investors. However, in 2012 he was able to secure $1.5 million in funding and launch calm.com.

If you haven’t heard of Calm.com, it’s one of the largest relaxation app’s that helps with sleep, stress, anxiety etc. Last year Calm.com had over 1 million paying subscribers and raised a further $88 million giving it a valuation of $1 Billion! 

Not a bad return on a few pixels hey! 


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