I lost ~30lbs in the 2 months I was doing this. In the end the startup failed, I swallowed my pride and got my old job back, the one I'd left a year previous to work full time on my startup.
I went and took an evening job at "geek squad" for $13 hour and started selling cars at a friends car lot on the weekends in a city about 50 miles away so none of my employees would know we were struggling. Often times over those next few months I was paying my employees from money I had earned working those two jobs which none of my employees even knew I had.
I eventually started researching effective ways to collect past due bills and I was harsh and even lost a few customers in my collection tactics, but ultimately learned a great deal about the types of customers I did and did not want which allowed me to realize that having tons of business was not necessarily as good as simply having a smaller, loyal customer base who pays their bills and respects your work.
I can recall one conversation where I was speaking to an attorney's secretary and she told me that after talking to "John" Aka the attorney in question, he simply did not have the money to pay the bill, but he "would get it paid as soon as possible" to which I quickly popped off "Well why don't you tell John that if he doesn't have the money he needs to stop parking his Aston Martin in front of my office."
luckily for me, my young hot headedness paid off and I received a hand delivered check the very next day.
While I struggled for some time to come and eventually spent my entire savings paying my employees salaries the business did eventually succeed and go on to be very sustainable.
When selling the company to a large firm out of Charlotte, NC I was even able to negotiate terms allowing all my employees to keep their same grade of pay for at least 2 years after the sale (they were all on salary and paid above market rate) While I worked harder in those 19 moths than I ever had in my life it was the most fulfilling time that I have ever been through and it shaped the me into the person I am today.
(If you are not familiar with the story, in a last-ditched effort to save his car company, De Lorean attempted to traffic a large amount of cocaine. Turned out the seller was a federal agent. That is dedication)
1. given the idea for the crime by the government agents
2. persuaded or talked into committing the crime by government agents
3. not ready and willing to commit the crime before the government agents spoke with him.
So no, it wasn't "the first easy thing you[he] can [could] think of".
However, our client was a hedge fund manager with an in house attorney who kept trying to convince me that because of my age (I was 21 at the time) I had no idea what I was doing and was being unethical for subcontracting work. He refused to pay and threatened to have his in house attorney waste enough of our lawyers time to make it unfeasible for us to pursue litigation (we didn't have a lawyers fees clause in our contract in case of disputes). After a lot of back and forth, he ended up settling for 50% of the contract amount ($12.5k IIRC) and we didn't pay anything to our subcontractors as a result of their breach of contract. The $12.5k plus some other purely advisory (non-development) work we did paid for us to stop arbitraging consulting (which was great since we didn't have any subcontractors anymore since we fired them) and to live on for the rest of the summer and work on our startup.
We raised money from YC right before that money ran out.
It all went downhill from there, but I still hung on for a few months. Didn't want to fire anyone. I took out crazy loans to keep this lead balloon afloat, but there was really no turning around. And it pretty much ruined my life.
It's a cautionary tale, really. I should have allowed this company to fail at a time when I still could have walked away without some serious damage. The company was done. It had no product, burned-out employees and no prospects. I wouldn't make that mistake again today. The lesson here being that desperation is never a good sign. When you're doing a startup, what you want is hunger and euphoria. Not desperation.
Also drove to Foxwoods to play poker once with my co-founder when we were particularly desperate. We only had enough money for one buy-in ($300). Figured that if I was asking my parents for money again, asking for an extra $300 was worth the risk, if I had a chance to win and not ask for anything.
Bill also took random jobs on Craigslist (helping people set up pod-casts, writing papers for wealthy foreign students, etc.)
I taught the LSAT and did "law school admission consulting" which basically translated to helping people write personal statements.
(I'm "aberman", one of the co-founders of WePay)
If I was back home (AU) then I couldn't have come anywhere near as far as I have - my cost of living here is like $500/month. I'm able to devote a tremendous amount of time to my startup.
The internet's not fantastic (a crappy 1 megabit, and outages happen at least once a week), half of the TV is in Spanish, and you have to be careful sometimes since white guys are usually cashed up tourists and ripe for a mugging.
But when push comes to shove it beats trying to make $1000 rent + living expenses and trying to balance a startup around that.
If you want to go to central america let me know. I can introduce you to the tech/startup community there. They can hook you up with the best/safest placest to live, work areas, and the whole thing.
My personal experience is with Guatemala and Honduras, though I know top notch developers and entrepreneurs (all bilingual) throughout the whole region.
If I were you, I'd pick costa rica to live in if you want to live in Central America. Bigger expat community, great nearshoring tech talent. Though Chile will give you $40k to startup in Chile.
When I go live/work at a LATAM country my process is usually:
1. Stay in a hostal for two days, those two days I check out places to rent
2. In south america, you can find great stuff on craigslist, furnished rooms or studios from $200-$500/mo
3. Meet local entrepreneurs, and find coworking spaces/become an office guest.
If you need more tips/intros for living in LATAM, my email is in my profile, or @andresbarreto
Probably your best bet would be going to a backpackers hostel and finding one while you stay there - they'll set you back as little as $10ish a night, have internet and interesting people to talk to, and the people working there might know of a place and/or you can walk around looking for somewhere.
Staying safe is pretty simple - be smart. An iPhone is a month's salary down here so don't wander around talking into it or wearing those pretty white earphones. Don't carry a satchel around that says Dell, and generally don't take more than you need when you hit the street ... if you're getting a carton of milk you don't need your wallet or the credit cards and $500 in it.
Made the arguable mistake of spending 9 months in Australia on my way to S.E. Asia and it ripped my pocketbook to shreds. That was when the AUD was almost 1:1 with the USD.
Only now can I really look back at that time and appreciate what a huge opportunity it was. Most people only have one shot in life to take infinite risk. Eventually life kicks in and you have to start making more measured decisions. However, even with the huge amount of risk I took back then it almost certainly would not have been possible had it not been for my very supportive family and girlfriend. I knew that no matter what happened I could always go home and tell them I gave it my best shot and life would go on.
I was in another continent, so after all communication failed, decided not to peruse the matter. However I ran into him at PyCon this year, about 2 years afterwards. I didn't say anything, as to not cause a commotion. I'm over it, and a lot has changed in my life since, including that I can now do all the work I once needed him for.
1) Buy something for a price.
2) Sell for a very tiny bit more.
3) Repeat as much as possible, for as long as the market sustains the price difference.
Early on in AdWords/AdSense, some sites were able to buy traffic from a cheap keyword and put up basically a thesaurus page with the higher value pay-per-click (PPC) ads more than covering expenses (eg. pay $0.05 per visit for a N visitors, then by optimizing conversions encourage click-throughs for > $2.00 each).
Later, before the online ad-market shook out upstarts, it was often possible to buy traffic from one source and sell it on another, most often to or from AdSense. Hence a proliferation of MFA sites (with almost no content but relevant AdSense links).
But not thinking too hard suggests that paying nothing for traffic, not paying less, is even better. So with an entrepreneur's ethics, I figured:
a) Business names and addresses are long tail search terms and not under copyright
b) Dense Pages of Long Tail Search Terms => Targeted, Specifically Motivated Traffic
c) (+ AdSense) => User Gets A Solution (finds a service) + PROFIT
I designed a logo, scraped some yellow pages, and it made some money. Continual earnings trumped the dreams to conquer the internet.
Incidentally, the name is a palindrome, and rotating the logo through 360 degrees both spells out "snapspans" and looks like a yin-yan:
EDIT: Somewhat erratically, as search engine rankings update every so often, it's at ~30K visitors and ~$450/month. It got spidered because of a link exchange with another more established site.
EDIT2: Probably a good opportunity to write a blog post and submit, but only if people care.
starts @23:00 or so