Those who know Alex Tew knows that he does not get carried away.
He has always maintained a mantra that consists in doing the opposite of what others do.
It was the year 2005 and his only obsession was to get money to pay for a business management course at the University of Nottingham in England.
From being a young man like most, he would have sought a part-time job or opted for a loan at the bank.
However, at age 21, this growing businessman made the decision to pay for his studies by creating a website called The Million Dollar Homepage dedicated to selling advertising space on the internet at a dollar per pixel in Blocks of 10×10 pixels.
He reports that “He literally had no money and was worried about the University.”
“I just thought this crazy strategy of making quick money that later came to life” he adds.
With only four months on the Internet, his website became viral and space was exhausted.
That’s how Tew achieved success, fame and his first million dollars. He also left college.
His website had any type of advertisers, from the British Newspaper The Times to online casinos. It focused on “anyone who wants to buy pixels” he said.
In the same way it caught the attention of many envious. This idea of selling pixels could happen to anyone, but it was Tew who became the first to do so.
After eleven years, Tew continues to follow a different path to the rest of the people and also makes it different than it did in 2005.
Currently lives in San Francisco, USA. Where he is founder and CEO of the start-up Calm, which offers a mobile application with the same name, offering numerous relaxation and meditation programs, created to reassure the mind of people.
The application also includes videos and audios of waves, wind currents and rain storms.
“It’s like having a sanctuary in your hand” says Tew.
It can be downloaded for free, but users can subscribe monthly, yearly or for life and receive more meditation guides and wider options.
Calm as a business
In this attempt to bring peace of mind to people’s lives, Tew is not alone. Calm is followed by a growing list of competitors who bring the mindfulness and meditation applications to the multi-application market, including Buddhify, Smiling Mind and Headspace.
Just in 2015, the industry of mindfulness and meditation managed to generate almost one billion dollars, according to data provided by IBISWorld, a market research analyst company.
Ariana Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post recently left the media empire to work full-time on the new self-help start-up, Thribe Global, which has the function of reducing stress.
Certainly the web is saturated with sites and applications to help people to be more effective and do more things at the same time, that is why Tew seeks to do the opposite.
“Technology seeks to achieve more and improve people’s efficiency. Be busy, keep busy and stay busy. Calm seek the opposite,” he says. “It’s about finding peace and tranquility in an increasingly busy world” he adds.
Tew’s quest for calm has been latent in him since he was 14 when he began to do meditation.
“Psychology and human development have always caught my attention.”
“Even then, I thought I should be on the Internet. I should be able to go to a page that guides you, that guides you in everything related to meditation and mindfulness” he says.
At the time of creating Calm in 2012, he saw it as a desktop page. A year later the company was transformed into an app, becoming mobile.
Today, Calm has six million users and the company has maintained three rounds of funding, managing to raise 1.5 million dollars.
Tew declined to disclose specific figures, but says “they are generating millions of dollars annually in revenue.”
An extensive road.
The road from Tew towards Calm was not always straight.
After his fame and unexpected success with the Million Dollar Homepage, his ideas for creating a meditation-oriented web page took a backseat and were replaced by ideas for generating money quickly.
“Making it work in four months and producing me a million dollars made it take a different path” says Tew.
“I was full of confidence, ideas and I set aside what I really wanted to do” he adds.
In this way he ended up working on projects that were not successful.
It all started with Pixelotto, an idea extracted from the Million Dollar Homepage that sold advertising space, followed by PopJam, a social network dedicated to humorous content sharing and One Million People, similar to its first success, only had photos instead of ads.
None generated the success he had imagined.
In the end, Tew went to San Francisco after his friend and founder of the social network Bebo, Michael Birch, asked him to go to work with him in Monkey Inferno, a technology incubator.
“I thought I’d work on something completely different” Tew says.
Birch had in mind that Tew would not stay with him for long, and in less than a year, he went to develop Calm.
Today, at 32, Tew says he has completed the circle.