Whereas most students struggle to get by on a few pounds an hour from a part-time bar or supermarket job, Tew has spent the last few months earning an average of 4000 pounds a day from his idea of a lifetime, the Million Dollar Homepage.

He will soon be banking the final cents of revenue totalling more than one million dollars, all earned since the conception of his idea last August.

Lying on his bed at his family's home in Wiltshire, southwest England, Tew was pondering how to stay out of debt during his impending three-year business studies degree.

Having seen his brother leave university with 30,000 pounds of debt he scribbled on a notepad "How can I become a millionaire?" The idea then came to him.

Spiralling interest

His website, the innovative - and now much imitated - milliondollarhomepage.com allowed advertisers to buy pixels, the tiny dots on a computer screen, at one dollar each.

As media interest mounted, the squares on which companies could place their logo sold at a minimum 100 pixels a go and were snapped up faster and faster.

Each logo links back to the sponsor's website.

Last week, only four months after the site was launched, the final 1000 pixels were sold on internet auction site eBay for $38,100.

Before the sale of the final pixels Tew said: "I've been blown away. These have been the most exciting and hectic months of my life. Things are quite surreal at the moment and because it's been so busy it hasn't really sunk in."

Tew has pledged to keep active for at least five years and companies advertising on the site range from corporate giants such as Orange to humble Hartlepool United football club, a team from the third tier of the English game.

"It hasn't been free money. It has changed my life and that hasn't really sunk in yet"

Alex Tew,
Internet entrepreneur

With the purchase of the domain name costing him only $88, Tew has earned a vast profit even after tax.

Despite his new wealth, his only indulgence so far has been a new car. He has now deferred the degree that he originally thought would cost him so much to take and is looking into several job offers, as well as writing an e-book.

'Pin-up'

"It's been a great experience but its been so hectic taking 120 calls a day. It hasn't been free money. It has changed my life and that hasn't really sunk in yet," he said.

"My aim at the moment is to go on to university next year but there's always a chance things could keep getting bigger and bigger."

He says the bulk of the money he has made will be reinvested in future business ideas.

"This is probably not the last penny I'll ever make but its likely to be the easiest," he said.

Extensive media coverage has resulted in Tew becoming something of a business pin-up. Financial bibles such as The Wall Street Journal have featured his story, while a string of copycats, billionpixelplace.com and milliondollarhomepagebis.com among them, have sprung up.

The one catch has been that the page has been such a success, with as many as half a million separate visitors a day, that it has crashed repeatedly in recent days due to heavy traffic.