Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Brain Behind TheMillionDollarHomepage.Com Launches A New Site

Alex Tew Story

It took this 21-year-old student just 20 minutes to come up with an idea which made him a million dollars in four months. So what did he do next?

Alex Tew completed just one term of his three-year business degree before deciding he'd do just fine without it. If the $1m in his bank account is anything to go by, he's right.

The 21-year-old student started the Million Dollar Homepage to help pay his university fees, but it ended up making him a dollar millionaire in just four months.

The site sold pixels, the dots which make up a computer screen, as advertising space, costing a dollar a dot. The minimum purchase was $100 for a 10x10 pixel square to hold the buyer's logo or design. Clicking on that space takes readers to the buyer's website.

Alex invested £50 setting up the site. Friends and family bought the first $1,000 worth of pixels. The proceeds of the first sale of ad space went on putting out a press release, which brought the site to the media's attention.

From there it snowballed. As he made money, more people talked about it and the more people talked about it, the more money he made. At its most popular, the Million Dollar Homepage got 863,000 unique users in one day, it still gets about 7,000 a day even though every pixel has been sold.

Ideas machine

But what has happened to Alex since the last pixel was sold in January?

He'd completed just one term at Nottingham University before deferring his degree when the site took off. He thought of going back and completing it but decided to work on his business ideas.

"I'm not good at studying in the traditional sense anyway," he says. "I have a short attention span. I'm always thinking about something new, I have lots of ideas."

He's bought a car with his earnings, but that's about the extent of his big purchases. He's moved to London from his family home in Cricklade, Wiltshire, but is renting a flat instead of buying one.

"Obviously the money has changed my life in some ways but it hasn't in others," he says. "I don't get recognised in the street or anything like that. I pretty much see the same people I used to and do the same things."

After the success of the site, job offers and investment opportunities from around the world flooded in. Some were very attractive, but in the end he turned them all down in favour of doing his own thing.

His mother is still his PA, but he has employed two other people, one to look after his sites and one to look after customers.

"I like to think of it as a internet time capsule," he says. "I want it to sit there for as long as possible, for decades."

Could be you

Most of his time has gone into coming up with a new business idea. The Million Dollar Homepage was a one-off but Alex knew the concept still had legs and could be developed. He came up with Pixelotto, which goes live on Tuesday.

His new venture will turn one lucky web surfer into a millionaire. Again he will sell a million pixels as advertising space, but this time for $2 each.

He will get $1m and the other million will be given to one random visitor. One month after the final pixel is sold, a draw will select one of the site's adverts at random.

Someone who clicked on that particular advert will be picked via a second random draw. The next round of Pixelotto will then begin, giving someone else the chance to become a millionaire. The winner can also nominate a charity to receive a $100,000 donation.

"This idea has longevity," he says. "I don't know anyone who doesn't want to win $1m dollars, so I can keep doing it again and again."

But what about in the long-term future? Even if his latest venture is a success, he says he will still move on to something new.

"I don't think I will be running this company for 25 years. I always want to do new things, I have a very short attention span."

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