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Simple web page earns student one million dollars

I know the title was “mega” link-bait but that has actually happened. A simple web page, in fact, just 1,000 x 1,000 pixels on the page earned 21-year old Alex Tew more than a million dollars. The best part – all buyers were very happy to pay him! There was no con, it was simple genius.

The story of the Million Dollar Home Page is a prime example of web entrepreneurship. Alex came up with the idea and was able to implement it before he finished a Business Management course.

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Here is what happened.

Worried about paying his student loan – get an idea for a simple online business

Recently enrolled at the three-year Business Management course of University of Nottingham, Alex Tew was worried about his student loan and that it would take years to repay. So he came up with simple concept. With an investment of 50 Euros, Alex bought a domain name and web hosting.
The domain name was MillionDollarHomepage.com.

On the home page he set up 1000 x 1000 pixel space (totalling a million pixels) and started selling 10 x 10 pixel blocks for $100. Though Alex was from the UK, he kept the prices in USD – million-dollar-home-page had that “ring” to it.

The idea was to have buyers place images (logos, banners, photos… whatever) and display a slogan when the mouse cursor was over the area. The image would be clickable and would take the visitor to the hyperlinked web site specified by the buyer.

With hindsight advantage, it is quite evident that the brilliant idea had immense potential right from the start. However, even at the time of inception, Alex knew that he had very little to lose – only 50 Euros. So he gave it a go and launched the page on August 26, 2005.

Selling pixels for million dollars

The first sale was from Alex’s friend who ran an online music website. They bought 20 x 20 pixels costing $400. Very soon, 4,700 pixels were sold off to family members and other friends. The home page reached the “tipping point” when it was picked up by the BBC.

In about two months, Alex new had sold off half his inventory and by the year end, all except the last 1,000 pixels had been picked up.

All the media buzz translated into more and more visitors rushing to view the Internet “wonder page” created by a 21-year old student. At one point, the million dollar home page was receiving 25,000 unique visitors per hour and its Alexa rank had shot up to 127.

To most “pixel” purchasers, this was one of the best advertising campaigns. With minimal investment, they had received significant exposure. I believe that most, if not all, got their money’s worth.

What happened to the remaining 1000 pixels, you ask?

Alex was shrewd, He now knew the potential of his homepage. So instead just selling the last 1,000 pixels for $1,000, he put them up for auction on eBay. The winning bid was for $38,100.

The conclusion

Alex Tew homepage had got him more than a million dollars – $1,037,100 to be exact. He ended up with close to $700,000 after deducting costs, taxes and a donation to The Prince’s Trust. The figure would have been way more than his student loan!

A great ending to a great story.

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