What I’m going to do with $100 Chris Guillebeau gave me

As you can see here, I started this blog last week because I was inspired by attending the World Domination Summit held in Portland two weekends ago.  I plan to post a summary of what I learned there soon, but this has to come first. If you want to know what it was all about, Gretchen explains it to an outsider, Sarah has an epic set of notes of what happened and Chris himself (the host) has a round up of a lot of posts talking about it.

A major event at the Summit happened during Chris’ closing speech on Sunday.  He discussed how WDS was a not for profit organisation, and despite being loss making last year, a profit and anonymous donation had left the organisation with a surplus of somewhere around $100,000. So far so good I thought – bigger and better next year – awesome.

But then I quickly put 2 and 2 together – 1000 people in the audience, Chris is the Author of The $100 Startup, $100,000…

So yes, it’s true, Everyone in the audience received a sealed envelope with $100 dollars in it. This is pretty unbelievable. In fact there are apparently a lot of people on the internet who don’t believe it. I can absolutely confirm that it’s true. The video of it happening is here, and the picture below is of my $100 bill and instructions.

So Chris and the WDS team had invested $100 in each and every one of us. Wow.

Lots of people talked about how amazing it was that someone believed in them enough to invest.  I can see that, but for me the overriding emotion was of responsibility and commitment. I was now compelled to do something with this money.  Something which had a story I could be proud to tell next year. Something amazing. I had to make it happen, because now it wasn’t just me – I had outside investors!

It definitely felt like an investment.  As a business kind of guy, I also felt I needed to provide Chris some sort of return on that investment. I wasn’t sure if this would be financial, or impact based return, but I had to do more than just donate it to a cause. I had to make the money work harder and do more. Having seen the amazing work being done by the likes of Charity:Water over the weekend, this was going to be tricky. But I really wanted to have a story to tell.

As I continued to think about the hundred bucks, the responsibility factor became more and more apparent to me.  I didn’t need someone to give me the money to start something.  My Trip to Portland had cost several times that amount, it would be easy to invest $100 in whatever I chose.  But the responsibility of managing someone else’s hundred bucks – that’s a different matter.

That changes the rules. That compels action.

So What am I going to do with it then?

I’m definitely going to start a business with it.  But I’m also going to multiply it by 10, and invest that in others. I feel like I want to share the very real sense of obligation to do better I got from opening that envelope.

Specifically, I’m going to create The Hundred Dollar Club.  I would like to recruit 10 people who would also appreciate the challenge, responsibility, commitment and impetus of having someone else’s money invested in their idea, and give them $100 of my own money.  I’m then going to organise this group of people to help, support and drag each other kicking and screaming into action and really deliver amazing things over the next year. We’ll create a group of people who all want to start or improve some sort of business, probably with an on-line element.

I’ll work with the group through everything. We’ll start with generating the idea for a new company, product or offering. We’ll use a structured process to help anyone struggling for what they should do.  We’ll move on to evaluating and testing the idea, proving the market or segment to create something that sticks. We’ll have help getting started and setting up websites, on-line stores or whatever is required.  We’ll do this all the way through the next year with the goal of reporting back at WDS next year.

I haven’t worked out the details yet, but I envisage 1-1 sessions, group discussions, advice from mentors, a space to share ideas questions frustrations and the like but above all a dedicated community of people to help each other through this amazing challenge. I appreciate I am not Chris Guillebeau, and a hundred bucks from me means less than coming from him, however with 10 people to help you and hold you to account, I hope that can make up a little for the stature of the giver.

So – a few questions:

Who can apply?

Anyone at all.  I’ll be forwarding this page to a couple of friends who I think could be interested and benefit, but otherwise – open invitation.  I’ll pick the people or ideas that seem most interesting. People should Ideally to commit to taking part in the club to get the most from the experience.  If you came to WDS and want to join forces that’s great – you can have another 100 bucks if it helps or you can just be part of a gang of like minded people.

Why am I qualified to run this group?

I’m probably not. But then I am because I’m taking action and getting it started. This will be about getting the most out of collective expertise, not about how much I know. In terms of what I do know though, I’ve launched two small web based business as hobbies, and my “day job” is consulting on e-commerce and multi channel strategy to big retailers in the UK, such as Marks & Spencer and B&Q.  I’ve learned a hell of a lot about what works and what doesn’t from all this and I’m desperate to put it back into practice in my next venture.

What’s in it for me (Rob)?

Financially nothing, I don’t expect you to pay me back.  However what I get out of it is an amazing community of people to share with, and a fantastic story for next year’s WDS.  Worth $1000 of anyone’s money.

What’s in it for you?

As above, except you get that amazing community, which we’ve just established is easily worth more than $1000 for -$100. So what are you waiting for?

How do I apply?

Leave a comment below or drop me an email. Explain why you’d like to be part of it. Get it done by Midnight UK time on Wednesday 1st August – 2 weeks today.  We’ll start the first session the following week.

And Finally

Ok, that’s it. I’m done for this post. As Brené would want, I’ve made myself vulnerable and hopefully it will all work out.  As Chris would say: Freely receive, freely give…  I hope this fits with WDS’s core values of community adventure and service.  It feels like it should.



Update: Whilst there has been lots of interest (way more than I expected), don’t let this stop you from getting in touch.  I originally said I’d pick the most interesting stories or ideas, and I’ll stick by this, so applications stay open until next Wednesday as I originally said.  I’ll also work out a way that anyone who’s interested can be involved in some way.


  1. Hi Rob

    Just brilliant….

    After a week of “comparisonitis” (your post below hit the nail on the head) last night I made myself get out of my sulky state and start reading $100 StartUp.

    The biggest hurdle to taking action is lack of accountability and the 1000 Dollar Investment Club will not only provide this, but of course support, encouragement, gentle (or not so) chivying along and, I imagine, a whole lot of fun for the group.

    I’d love to be part of it and take my business to the next level – something that supports me financially as well as being what makes my heart sing.

    Next steps?

    Kate x

    • Awesome Kate – thanks for the comment.

      For next steps I’ll get in touch by email – fantastic to have you on board!

  2. This is fantastic! Way to jump out there like a champ! I totally share your feelings of responsibility and commitment to turning my $100 investment into something much bigger. I haven’t even been able to take it out of the envelope yet. Your project will do it BiG TIME while perfectly serving our values of community, adventure and service. I’m so excited to see this unfold.

    • Thanks Gretchen – very kind words, I appreciate the comment. Are you in for being a part of this, or want to see how it unfolds a little first?


      • Yes, I’m in! Bringing my own $100 of course :) An idea for an ebook crystallized for me after my first day of Cold Shower Therapy (thx to Joel Runyon) and after receiving an email from Karen today, it clicked for me how this all can fit together and that I need to join your Club! Please put me on your list. I’m scared. That’s good, right?

  3. I’m going to be honest, Rob, I’m not exactly clear on what The Hundred Dollar Club is! Is it $1000 of your pocket? Going to ten different people? One person? Who gets the money, who helps out? I feel the message is a little confused…

    Having said that, the basic premise appeals to me and so I am definitely up for getting involved :) Shoot me an email with a more detailed outline!

    • Hi Karen thanks for letting me know. Hopefully its a simple premise:

      10 people want to get the same sense of accountability by being invested in by an outsider

      I give those 10 people 100 dollars each of my cash – means i spend 1000 dollars total.

      Those 10 people and I form The Hundred Dollar Club which is a support, mentoring and accountability group to make sure all of us deliver a new or improved business before next years WDS.

      Hope that’s a little clearer…

  4. Yay – looking forward to more awesomeness!

  5. I am moved and inspired!

    This is an amazing idea Rob, it fits my understanding of service, i honour your authenticity and vulnerability.

    Apart from being precicely what I think fairgrocer needs, and a great opportunity for personal growth, I am excited at the prospect of being in a place to practically support others.

  6. Hello there Rob.

    I only recently read $100 Dollar start-up and I’m inspired and full of ideas again after starting a business before and realising I’d created a job for myself that I didn’t want.

    I would like to get involved in this, would be great to have a group of people to provide support to and receive support from.

    Hit me up!


  7. inspiring. i am by nature a theoretical astrophysicist, working on my undergrad. the journey is long and winding, but worth every step.

    i have a strong love of life and preservation of it. my website is based on my theories for living, astrophysics, sustainability, climate change, & world affairs. it is my baby. teetering on the edge of launch can be scary, but after #WDS2012 scary is not sharing it with the world.


    • Hi Monique,

      I totally agree – share it, Just launch – you’ll be surprised how people interact with something which you don’t think is “finished”.

      When is it ever finished anyway?

      Are you interested in joining in with the club?

  8. I recently read the $100 start up and am inspired to turn the hobby I blog about into a full time gig.

    Support, direction, and accountability would be fantastic!

    I’d love to be a part of your group- let me know,

    • Hi Jill,

      Fantastic, it would be great to have you. We’re getting quite a membership together, so I’ll be in touch soon.

  9. I love this idea! How about adding a ‘pay it forward’ kind of thing where after 1 year all 10 members will also start their own club and give $100 to 10 other people?

    And a question on location: do members have to be in the US, Portland even? Or can folks from say Europe join as well? (I’m from Amsterdam. I wasn’t at WDS, but totally want to be there next year.)

    • Hi Patty,

      Thanks for getting involved. The pay it forward is a great one. I wouldn’t stipulate that people have to do this, but if you felt you wanted to, that would be another great thing to do.

      You absolutely don’t need to be in Portland – I’m in the UK, and was envisaging a mostly virtual group, with face to face meetings as and when people’s location permitted.

      It would be great to have you on board!

  10. Rob,

    I would be really interested in learning from you regarding ecommerce. I just currently opened up an etsy shop that I’m trying to get up and running while commuting and working 55-60 hours a week plus helping my daughter raise her little 1 1/2 year. I’m trying to grow this business so eventually one day I don’t have to commute or that it will at least provide a healthy second income to help out things. My ultimate dream is that one day it will be healthy and support my son and daughter so they won’t have to be employees for someone else. I’ve already bought my domain name with this goal in mind. I could really use some mentoring from people who believe that a company can be started up with a little bit of money and grow from there.

    • Hi Donna,

      It definitely can be done with a little bit of cash, an Idea and some time care and attention. Sounds like you’re in the right place.

  11. Hi Rob, what you are doing sounds really great and brave. If I did the math right, you already have 10 people, but I would like to join this group even without you contributing anything to me. I think a group like this is exactly what I need to discipline myself and work towards one of many ideas I have to have an online business. Let me know if you are OK in accepting members and if yes what the next steps are that I need to take in order to join.


    • Hi There Ajay,

      Dont worry about the number of people – I’ll work that out somehow, I’ll be in touch soon.

  12. I found this page from a tweet that Chris sent. It’s great to see him support you in this! I’ve sent an email, but from the looks of it, your 10 people are lined up. I would love to be a part of the group and perhaps seed a $100 contribution to participate?

    Thanks so much for this!


    • Hi Tiffany,

      No problem – I said if I got more than 10 people I’d pick the most interesting stories / ideas so no problem.

      Not sure how I’m going to sort out getting to 10 people yet, but that doesn’t mean you’re too late.

  13. [...] Find out more about the Hundred Dollar Club, check out this post which explains what it’s all [...]

  14. [...] later. Rob Young, who went to the World Domination Summit, had decided to set up something called The Hundred Dollar Club. More background on this can be read on his fab blog here. He wanted to invest $100 in 10 people, [...]

  15. [...] Chris’ tweet about some bloke by the name of Rob Young and a project he was starting called ‘The Hundred Dollar Club’. It had something to do with the recent World Domination Summit that Chris had organised in [...]

  16. [...] had a bit of a realisation running The Hundred Dollar Club.  It’s very simply, that whilst there are some people who need advice, training, and to [...]

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