The Strange Way He Got Rich: Designing Digital Glitter

Courtesy Rhys Davies and family
Courtesy Rhys Davies and family

Summertime is here, and for many of us, that means we'll be taking some vacation -- a little down time to let our minds decompress from the usual worries of work, housekeeping, and the like. It's at times like those that a person, perhaps sitting outdoors, sipping a relaxing beverage, might start thinking about some outside-the-box ideas -- pondering some what-ifs.

To help inspire you to work on your own million-dollar ideas, for the next three days, we offer you three stories of unusual entrepreneurship -- true tales you probably haven't come across before. First up: David Mintz and his sweet solution to an ancient problem. On Wednesday, we began with David Mintz, who made millions by taking the "cream" out of ice cream. Next up, young Rhys Davies, who turned MySpace into a cash cow with the help of a bit of graphical flair.

Yes, A 14-Year-Old Can Get Rich Fooling Around on Social Media

Rhys Davies of Burry Port, Carmarthenshire, U.K., began his entrepreneurial career at the tender age of 14, when severe social anxiety led him to drop out of school.

"If anyone talked [to] or even looked at me, I would just crumble inside. The fear of interaction with other people took control of me," says Davies. "This led me to essentially become a recluse. The only place I felt comfortable interacting was on my PC."

At this time (circa 2006), MySpace was the most popular social media site, Davies explains. "Like any other teenager, I would spend hours customizing my profile with graphics, quotes, music videos, etc." In doing so, Davies noticed how popular simple glitter graphics were among other users decorating their MySpace pages.

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He decided to set up a website giving away these graphics for free, but charging for advertisements, through Google AdSense and the Yahoo! advertising network, on the site.

"The first month I hit roughly $10,000 in advertising revenue. It stayed that way every month so the first year in business I had done just over $100,000 in revenue. I was extremely lucky to have a successful business from the get-go," Davies admits. "The only expense I had was the hosting which cost roughly $400 a month."

Davies says he earned more money that first year than his father (a greengrocer and florist), fielded job offers from far larger Web companies, and had to hire an accountant because at 14, he wasn't necessarily legally allowed to run his business.

"The system wasn't really set up thinking that teenagers would be leaving school earlier than the law states and earning six figures," as he puts it.

Now 21, Davies has used the proceeds from this initial success to start an e-commerce business selling jigsaw puzzles called, "which is shaping up to be a million-dollar business in the next few years," he says. Davies also has a young family to support. He and his partner, Sarah, now have two children.

Friday: Suburban Mom Made her Fortune Helping People Find Reliable Contractors


Got a crazy business story, DailyFinance reader? Share it in the comments section below.

Catherine Baab-Muguira is a contributing writer to The Motley Fool.

Originally published