DimeADozen.AI, an AI side hustle started by two friends with only $185, just sold for $150,000 after 7 months

Can you imagine starting a side hustle with just $185 and artificial intelligence (AI)? That’s exactly what two friends, Monica Powers and Sal Aiello, did and now their business was just sold for $150,000. How did they do it? In this article, we’ll explore the intriguing journey of Monica Powers and Sal Aiello and how they turned their AI side project into a six-figure windfall.

In one of the most inspiring side hustle stories ever told, Aiello and Powers launched their highly profitable side hustle in just four days with an initial investment of under $200.

Their journey began with using ChatGPT, a generative AI chatbot, to explore their side hustle ideas and market research. However, they quickly realized their unique ability to pose precise questions that extracted invaluable responses from ChatGPT, recognizing that others might lack this skill.

Aiello, an experienced CTO with a background in tech startups, and Powers, a product designer running the strategic design and branding firm Mascot, joined forces in March 2023 to create an AI-powered research tool. The tool was designed to streamline the process of users filling out a form about their business ideas, and the tool would transform the inputs to ChatGPT. “Maybe we can sell this,” Aiello, 36, recalled.

DimeADozen founders Monica Powers (L) and Sal Aiello recently sold their AI side hustle for $150,000.Courtesy: Powers & Aiello

In this era of AI, where innovation knows no bounds, Aiello and Powers believe their AI-powered research tool can help small businesses understand their markets and customers even before they take off.

Their vision materialized within days, giving birth to DimeADozen, an online platform with a noble mission: to empower entrepreneurs, aspiring business owners, and startup founders to rigorously test and validate their business concepts with the assistance of AI. For just $39, DimeADozen creates a comprehensive report that outpaces the turnaround time of traditional analytics agencies or search engines. To date, the platform has generated more than 40,000 reports for small businesses and startups.

“Drive down the barrier of entry to validate your business idea and get your first paying customers,” DimeADozen said on its website.

In just seven months, DimeADozen, equally owned by Aiello and Powers, generated over $66,000 in revenue, as revealed by documents reviewed by CNBC Make It, which first shared the story. The bulk of this success was derived from a modest $150 for a two-year “.AI” domain name registration and $35 on hosting and a database. Aiello said the rest was pure profit, a testament to their hard work and the efficiency of their model.

In an exciting turn of events, just last month, Aiello and Powers sealed a deal to sell their thriving side hustle for $150,000 to Felipe Arosemena and Danielle de Corneille. This dynamic husband-and-wife duo, with backgrounds in software engineering and product design, share an ambitious vision of making DimeADozen their primary focus.

While Arosemena and de Corneille step into the forefront to take the reins, Aiello and Powers have opted to remain involved as company advisors, dedicating approximately five hours each week to provide guidance and support.

“It really does print money,” Aiello said, embodying the incredible success story of DimeADozen.

AI Side Hustle

The inspiring journey of Aiello and Powers is just one among the growing number of success stories showcasing how entrepreneurs and side hustlers are leveraging generative AI to access opportunities that were once exclusive to major tech corporations.

Around the same period when Aiello and Powers kickstarted their side hustle, we featured another remarkable entrepreneur, Jackson Fall, who harnessed the potential of GPT-4 to launch a blog site called Green Gadget Guru for just $100. Within 24 hours after launch, the value of Green Gadget Guru remarkably soared to $18,000.

In the world of side hustles, Monica Powers and Sal Aiello’s journey began when they met at a virtual startup founder meetup event hosted by Y Combinator. Quickly forming a partnership, they ventured into several side hustles while keeping an eye out for more opportunities.

Among their projects, DimeADozen stands out as the first AI research tool tailored for testing business ideas. It efficiently processes information by using pre-written ChatGPT prompts, transforming the results into comprehensive 50-page reports detailing potential investors, customers, and competitors. While it’s possible to do similar research manually using Google, DimeADozen’s swiftness and reliability make it a preferred choice for entrepreneurs.

“There’s no reason you can’t do 1,000 Google searches and get the same results,” Aiello said. “[But] it’s a no-brainer to lean on somebody [to do it faster].”

To further enhance the tool’s accuracy, Powers and Aiello employed prompt engineering, a technique that refines chatbot queries for precise outcomes. By mitigating the risk of AI hallucinations, where chatbots provide plausible-sounding yet incorrect information, they aimed to ensure the tool’s reliability.

Their vision for DimeADozen extends beyond its current success. In an ideal scenario, the tool might attract the attention of tech giants like Salesforce, potentially leading to an acquisition. However, the broader aspiration is for it to become a widely used tool for businesses, serving as a means to validate and learn about their ideas.

“The bigger vision is: It becomes a ubiquitous tool to run a business through to validate and learn about it,” Aiello added.