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Rashi Goel

How zillennials are building six-figure businesses through growth hacking

Reading Time: 4 minutes

A few geniuses from Gen Z are proving that the number of formal marketing degrees needed to growth hack the internet is a big fat zero.

The internet has democratized talent and built a creator’s economy. Anyone with a phone and wifi access can make money or get famous.

With this democratization of access, an idea has the power to make or break fortunes. 

Here are four whacky and highly creative growth hacks I admire.

Growth hack 1: Pixels for sale

Alex Tew did not want to graduate with student debt.

So he created a website –The Million Dollar Homepage, to raise money for his education.

The home page was a million pixels arranged in a 1000 × 1000 pixel grid and anyone could buy advertising space on the site.

Each buy-in was just $1 per pixel – a 10 X 10 block. Even one pixel gave the purchaser concentrated advertising space in the form of (1) an image, (2) a link to their URL, and (3) a slogan that appeared on hovering a cursor.

This unique idea became an internet sensation overnight because

  1. The pricing strategy was practical. Alex priced each pixel at $1 even though he lived in the UK because he also wanted to appeal to the USA. And GBP1 was an unwieldy $1.80.
  2. Gamification was built into the sales story. He put up the last 1,000 pixels for auction on eBay. The winning bid was $38,100, bringing the final tally to $1,037,100.

Total cost for the whole activity? Euros 50.

Growth hack 2: Jigsaw lottery

Another idea that sold digital real estate for spectacular profits is the Jigsaw Lottery.

During lockdown, demand for jigsaw puzzles boomed.

David Dobrik took this opportunity to launch The Hundred Thousand Dollar Puzzle. (the site is no longer operational)

He sold jigsaw puzzles with a difference.

Each jigsaw formed a QR code. Each QR code unlocked a cash prize – from a single quarter to a $100,000 jackpot.

The price to the buyer of each puzzle? $30.

David Dobrik: The Hundred Thousand Dollar Puzzle

He sold 17,000 puzzles within the first hour and generated $510,000. This was enough to pay for the $100,000 first prize and lots of pocket change left over.

Growth hack 3: Cracking YouTube

Jimmy Donaldson – Mr.Beast dropped out of college in 2016 with a dream to become the biggest sensation on YouTube.

Within four years – he became YouTube’s Creator of the Year.


He learned the secret code of how to make videos go viral.

His video of himself counting to 100,000 was the first to go viral. In this video, he sits in a chair and counts to 100,000 over 40-plus hours. At the end of the video, he looks deliriously at the camera and says, “What am I doing with my life?”

The resulting video —“I COUNTED TO 100,000!” — was a viral smash. Since its debut on Jan. 8, 2017 till today (11th Dec, 2023), it has earned over 217 million views.

Here’s the video:

“Once you know how to make a video go viral, it’s just about how to get as many out as possible. You can practically make unlimited money.”


He earns millions from YouTube, which he invests into making more and more elaborate videos with huge upsides for viewers.

This is his formula:-

  • 10–20 minutes long video,
  • a snappy headline,
  • get the main point out within the first 30 seconds
  • Mega prizes to viewers to complete challenges in sharing, commenting etc. And I mean MEGA. He has given away $1 million! Even an island!!!

Growth hack 4: Naming Chinese babies

This idea is so simple that I am mentally kicking myself that I never thought of it.

Beau Jessup is British. She is 19. A student. She launched a website called Special Name. http://www.specialname.cn/ that helps Chinese parents give English names to their children.

She is self-funding her education through revenues from this website.

She came up with this idea when she was 15. She was traveling to China with her father and helped her dad’s colleague name his daughter. All she did was suggest a few names that conveyed the father’s hopes for his daughter’s future.

She discovered that Chinese parents give their kids an English name alongside their traditional Chinese name to make it easier for them to introduce themselves to foreigners. They want contemporary English names that are also meaningful.

She latched onto the need gap – given internet censorship; it becomes difficult for the Chinese to research English names to name their kids.

Beau developed a website with algorithms to generate three name options for a set of meanings the parents want their child’s name to stand for. The site automatically connects to WeChat so parents can run the names by their friends and family.

Guess how much Beau charges? A princely sum of 60 cents per name.

Since the algorithms are automated, the site makes money for Beau as she attends college.

“Special Name” has named 677,929 babies at the time of writing this article and earned about $407,443 in income for Beau.


Scott Galloway says that all strategy comes down to one question, “How hard is it to execute?”.

These ideas, on the other hand? Apart from Mr. Beast’s YouTube videos, they are not so hard to execute. What’s hard is uncovering an insight and an idea that’s simple and brave.

What’s common between all four ideas is the sweet spot:

  1. Ideas so simple, grandmoms could understand it
  2. Tactics so straight forward, you could participate in the time it takes your elevator from ground to the 21st floor
  3. Entry cost so low it’s not even pocket change
  4. Prizes so MEGA that they can make dreams come true
  5. A real need that no one else spotted

Thanks for reading!