Simons, currently running an education startup, managed to get $20,000 in seed money and some space on AOL’s campus. But the money soon ran out, and his friends all quit. Simons was unemployed, homeless, and broke. So he got creative.
For someone with neither money nor an aversion to sleeping on others’ couches, the AOL building had plenty of allure. “They had a gym there with showers,” Simons said. “I’d take a shower after work. I was like, ‘I could totally work here…They have food upstairs, they have every drink on tap. This would be a sweet place to live.'”
Note that Simons said he would work there. After his four months in the incubator, he was used to toiling away at ClassConnect inside the building, and with other programs, from the Stanford-focused incubator StartX to AOL’s own First Floor Labs also taking up space there, there was no shortage of non-AOL employees shuffling in and out all the time. But Simons was intent on launching his startup, so why not find a desk and pound away for 12 to 16 hours a day?
“There were so many people going in and out each day,” he said. “They’d say, ‘Oh, he just works, here, he’s working late every night. Wow, what a hard worker.'”
He had some help in the form of people telling him about couches where security patrols didn’t swing by. So, with the help of AOL’s on-site gym, laundromat, free food, and general amenities, he lived in the building for more than two months before the building manager caught on, found him, and kicked him out.
He ultimately found more funding for his startup, ClassConnect, and managed to score a rental house…that he promptly set up with bunk beds in one room, and loans out on Airbnb.
Somehow, we don’t think we’ve heard the last of this guy.
(Image via hdiwan on Flickr)