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The Day our investors came to see the office (2011) (thedayseries.tumblr.com)
174 points by treester on May 24, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 64 comments



This is exactly how I feel. The circumstances I live in are much worse than I could be the ones I could be living in (I'm currently living in the back of my Honda Civic, parking somewhere in Palo Alto or Redwood City), but I don't care. I've honestly never been happier. I'm doing what I love, building something I feel is sorely needed, and that's all that really matters.

I sleep better now on the air mattress in the trunk of my car now than I did working a mind-numbing job and sleeping in a king-sized bed.


Good lord why? There are so many other tech hubs where housing is reasonable. How are you supposed to do your most inspired work if you can't get a decent night's sleep.


The main problem I have with this is that it would put so much pressure on your startup. You need to be built to resist failure, and if you've literally invested everything, you're in for a hard time.

Not to say that you shouldn't invest almost everything, and this is a cool hack, but it's not sustainable, at least emotionally.


I'm sorry, but describing homelessness as "a cool hack" is pretty twisted.


Go get to know real homeless people, we are not talking about homelessness here. Though I think the OP is taking it a bit far, I think it would be fine to do it for a week or something if you opened up a huge opportunity for you.


There are a lot of people that I suspect you would consider "real" homeless that live out of their cars.

The main difference here is that I assume he is making decent money. More than you would expect of someone that is "really" homeless anyway.


You can be house-full and yet still homeless. Dwellings are becoming more and more just that, it seems. Not a "home". Not a Fortress of Solitude, if you will.

So why keep up the charade if you're out of the weather anyway?


> I'm sorry, but

Are you? Are you really sorry?


There's a saying. Anything which was said before a but doesn't really count. I think this guy has a point.


I don't think in that context it represents an apology or even empathy. It means "allow me to politely tell you that you are full of shit!"

Kinda like saying "have a nice day" to somebody who was just rude to you.


I don't feel like there's that much pressure on the startup, I'm just concentrating full-time on it for a while. If I run out of savings I'll pick up some freelance stuff and keep working on it, just not full-time. I guess it all depends on your unique circumstances.


There are theatre people in Milwaukee and Houston and DC. But if you want to be on Broadway, you gotta' bite the big apple. Des Moines is for sleeping.


These days, I'd argue that the computing equivalent of the theater person's NYC is simply "the internet".

Sure, maybe silicon valley is slightly better, but it doesn't look like a particularly compelling advantage, certainly not anything close to the divide between doing theater in NYC and doing it in Milwaukee.

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog, and few people care where your doghouse is.


There's a huge premium, when consulting, to being there in person. One of the easier ways to do a startup without investors (or homelessness) in this area is to work 3-6 months out of the year as a contractor. My impression is that getting those jobs is way easier here than anywhere else.

/my impression/ is that it's similar when getting VC money, but I don't have direct experience with that like I have with consulting.

People you meet in person, in my experience, are more likely to do business deals with you, and you are going to run into more people of the calibre you want to have partnerships with in this area than anywhere else.


I'd like to think that's try since I'm not in Silicon Valley. But sometimes it does feel like most of the deals that are made are due to personal connections - people who are running into each other at events, parties, coffee shops, etc.


I've seen some cool companies and some badass people come out of Des Moines. Don't knock it.


My wife's family is from Iowa, but nobody would mistake Des Moines for the city that never sleeps. Even its most fervent partisans. That's the way analogies work.


Silicon Valley is one big, dark, empty sleepy suburb at night. I don't think the liveliness of street culture has anything to do with a city's status as a tech hub. Personally I would want to be in Des Moines if I was selling agriculture software, or something like that. Parent's startup deals with journalism, perhaps better off in NYC. SV is not the end-all, be-all for everyone, especially since Parent is bootstrapping and the VC ecosystem means nothing to him.


If you're young and a dancer, New York offers a high number of opportunities because there is a critical mass. Silicon Valley is analogous in regard to software startups. Des Moines may be great for soybean biotech, but that ain't the fellow's business - nor is it a young person's game. Obviously, neither is insurance. Sleeping in a Civic isn't my cup of tea - I'd need at least a Grand Caravan - but that doesn't make it wrong for everyone.

And a young person can wind up living in their car despite playing to expectations and not pursuing their dreams. That and short is just the way life is.


Des Moines is big for financials. Specifically insurance.


Journalism - kind of, depending on your definition of journalism. And it's not a media play, it's a hard technology play, so SV is a better fit.


How do you go to the toilets?


I'm not the Parent but if I'm ever a transient I'll hold onto my $30/mo 24-Hour Fitness membership for dear life. Toilets and hot showers all over the country.


I imagine the parent has access to a coworking space during the day, and a 24 hour or similar fitness place for showers, bathrooms and exercise.


In the Hacker Dojo


How long have you been doing this?


So far one week in Silicon Valley, but I honestly feel it's sustainable. Park your car and sleep in it wherever there are other cars (no one notices you), work in the Hacker Dojo, shower at the Gold's Gym down the street in Mountain View. Total burn rate per month? $200-ish. http://www.austenallred.com/voluntarily-homeless-in-silicon-...


There's a Dojo nomad community, we hooked Kurt up with them when he arrived, you may want to find them. They're good folks and offer each other great tips.

But, for the love of christ, please don't sleep in the Dojo ever, it endangers our zoning. We've had enough trouble with that can of worms already, and I don't ever want to see the zoning board again except maybe at a nice party.


Awesome; I'd love to get hooked up with them. Also, I promise I will never sleep in the Dojo :)


  | please don't sleep in the Dojo ever, it
  | endangers our zoning
That seems odd. I've heard of people sleeping in the office before, does that endanger the zoning of that particular company, or does the Hacker Dojo have specific circumstances?


keep that up for 5 years with a good engineer salary and you will be in really good shape!


The cat kittles speaks the truth. Minimum living and investing 50% of your income into a 401k for 5-7 years in your twenties. Invest the other 35% or so into diverse CDs with ranging lock periods (or flipping things on craigslist, both have a decent ROI). Five or so years of pain for a solid path afterwards.


That doesn't include the cost of wrecking your back from sleeping in the back of a honda civic.


With a decent air mattress you should be OK.

More back harm from failing to left. Squats and deads, my man.


And then when you are older and your body less resilient and your obligations much higher, you cash in and do all the fun, adventurous stuff you missed out on in your 20s, right?

Concentrating on savings is betting against your own future earning potential. Generally this advice comes from people who always hate their jobs. Better advice: get a job you enjoy. You'll never work a day in your life


I also highly recommend Wealthfront.com for super easy diversified investing. (Once you've maxed your HSA and IRA)


I'd recommend vanguard.com . From what I can tell, wealthfront is largely repurchasing vanguard funds and selling them downstream.


Cool. So instead of a hacker house, we need a hacker parking lot. Or even better, a hacker parkade. Like in RPO, but maybe constructed a little better so you can drive in and out.


You mean a trailer park? Like the ones that have been torn down to make room for luxury buildings?


Actually, a trailer park would probably be a huge deal. The biggest problem would always be knowing who just wants a cheap place to live vs a cheap place to hack.


Why do you want to make that distinction?


Because if he doesn't then the idea doesn't sound too interesting anymore.

Communal or otherwise affordable non-traditional housing for people of like interests isn't a new concept and there is a lot to be said for it. Trailer parks for the general public are not a new concept either, and there is arguably much less to be said for them.


Wow I wrote this two years ago! I saw a few comments coming in this morning and had no idea what was going on. Gotta love Google Analytics :) I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I enjoyed the experience :)


Where are you now? How are things? Are you still happy?


From the bio:

signalgenius.com [founder & growing] fourthsegment.com [founded & failed] ryanangilly.com [blog] mypunchbowl.com [employee & still going] messagesling.com [founded & failed]

I'd really like to hear how things ended and if the relationship with the investors remained so positive all the way to the end.


Really liked your story. All the lead-up had me thinking there would be a horrible reaction to the plain office but it was such a sweet finale. People just being left to focus on what they're creating, and having some appreciation shown for their opinion, state of well-being, etc.


I enjoyed seeing all the WPI and other local references from my (long) time in MA.


The story had the exact oposite ending as I was expecting given the lead-up.


Yea I find investors are not primarily concerned about my happiness - except how my happiness may effect the business.

It's not at all that they're heartless & they certainly don't want me to be unhappy. They just didn't give me money so that I would use it to have fun and be happy. Happiness is hopefully a side effect of a successful venture.


I even more expected that the investor was going to see the slightest bit of waver in his voice and use that as an excuse to yank all the money back.


I kinda expected him to say that the investor was his Dad or something.

I am pretty sure that if my company is not moving forward and the ROI is not looking good for investors - then they will not be first and foremost concerned with my happiness. They don't want me to feel miserable, but they certainly don't want to see me playing ping pong and drinking PBR all day if the company is not moving in a positive direction.

I think a better question an investor would ask would be "are you still feeling optimistic" or "are you happy with the direction we're going, our progress, etc" Not just am I personally feeling happiness


For a second I was thinking the opposite, in that the investor wanted to continue the happiness and bring in a second round of funding. Thus giving his first investment a greater chance of success.


There's definitely more than a little heartlessness in it, though. Both the investor & the developer are/will be invested in the business, and yet it's the developer making all the sacrifices.

The investor could decide to invest more and spend it on improving working conditions, but they choose not to - after all, the suckers have confirmed that they are happy with the conditions!


I ENVY your experience with your investors.

I had an experience with an angel investor, where she said: "You need my money, what's stopping me from just hiring some programmers from India and making what you have." I told her, "passion," and I walked away from the deal .

This taught me to take advice from others and NEVER deal with family. It also taught me that if my pitch is a website/app/service get my users and growth rate manageable, so leverage is in my favor.


Rather then walking away I would suggest telling the person they can try but it is unlikely because the cost of an actual good overseas programmer is comperable to here if you factor in the miscommunication, time difference, and the cost of the time to communicate exactly what is needed.

You might want to go back to the person, ask if they have had it built yet, and ask if they want to get started now but don't let this person take advantage of your passion.


If they've already tried the "I can hire an Indian." line, then they've already ended the relationship.

If you want to be cruel, you can point them to places like elance or rentacoder.


I was thinking it sounded more like a negotiating tactic to wrangle something more out of the relationship from someone who was emotionally involved wanting to move forward.

This happened to me, I couldn't do the project and didn't even start because the person wanted it done in 3 months. He went ahead and hired a firm in India. It took him 2 years and he didn't even start from scratch he bought a pre-built product to start from to save time. So I am very skeptical of when people say they are going to outsource something.


Likely they were just playing Industrialist by repeating some received wisdom about Indian programmers being a magical outsourcing technique, to which you call their bluff and say, "Nothing, go for it. Wanna race?" and sit there silently.


And this is why VC loves young people.


yep, because they are living a dream, and hope.


This sounds awful and I hope never to find myself in a situation where I am thankful for ugly living conditions, for that would mean I had become insensitive to the world.


They weren't dirty or unsafe conditions. They were just plain, leaving the team to focus on their well-being and their work.

I would find a really showy office somewhat distracting.


Without windows under office-quality fluorescent lights is bleak and awful. Sure, it's 'safe', but it drains the soul.


I thought it was about making a very risky investment in a hope for a really high return.




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