In the motivational lyrics of Eminem, if you had one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted, would you capture it or just let it slip? Once you’ve found your life’s passion/purpose, do you give it up or continue pursuing it at all costs, regardless of the critics and naysayers. Nobody said the entrepreneurial journey would be easy, but the upward challenge is exciting and it is certainly achievable with effort, persistence and talent. The journey gets very lonely and frequently seems without end. You feel like a rebel or outcast and unlike your peers in many ways. It’s sometimes difficult to relate to their struggles. Up to this point, I’ve lived a blessed life relatively speaking. Not to say I have a silver spoon in my mouth, but the current financial situation is cushy and I live in a swanky loft overlooking the city skyline. Alas, money cannot buy happiness but it certainly helps to a certain extent. However, I can’t realistically continue to rely on the gratitude of a select few.
I graduated from Michigan State with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, but that doesn’t define who I am. It took me five and some odd years to trudge my way through college. I considered dropping out many times but finally made it to the light at the end of the tunnel. Some people are perfectly content to spend their precious formative years in the rat maze of the educational system. Many of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs rejected the status quo and dropped out to pursue their true passion. I believe life is a continuous education through personal experiences. So the fact of the matter remains, I have a really expensive piece of paper to hang on my wall. There are so many tech jobs in my field popping up all the time but I’ve interviewed countless times with no offers to speak of. I’m an Entrepreneur to the core of my being! Freedom to live life on my own terms is of equal importance to the air I breathe. If Steve Jobs went to a 9-5 job every day to collect a paycheck, would Apple exist today? Absolutely not! No, he rejected the status quo and created one of the most revolutionary companies of all time! Think Different.
Let’s say you’re building the next killer mobile app that will be acquired for billions of dollars and hiring developers (trained code monkeys) to work for straight equity in a company that currently has no assets or investors. Why would I ever choose to work for you? How are you fundamentally different from the myriad other unoriginal apps in the marketplace? I firmly believe that another large tech bubble is forming with evidence to back it up, but I won’t elaborate right here. Long story short, my prediction is that within the next five years the emerging bubble is going to explode and thousands of engineers will be left without a job; Silicon Valley will receive the heaviest blow. There’s an app in the market for everything from food delivery to snapping nude photos. These startups are worth billions of dollars collectively. Why should I care? It doesn’t interest me in the slightest. Maybe I’ve become jaded but I honestly think the entire thing is stupid as hell. What is our society coming to when people are so lazy that they can’t even get off their ass to order food without using an app to do it for them? I’m instantly reminded of a comedy called Idiocracy. Owe My Balls! If you don’t get the reference, go watch the movie.
More to the point, I already built a mobile app entirely from scratch that is being used all over the world in a matter of years on a marketing budget of virtually zero with no outside investors. The markets for this app reach far and wide. It’s just a matter of time before Dude Where’s My Car? is acquired by a tech giant for millions or, dare I say it, billllllions. What is the point in building another app in a heavily saturated market with no guarantee of success? After a few years pitching my app startup all over the place and trying to attract Ashton Kutcher as a strategic endorser/investor, I decided to cut my losses and make a 180° pivot to pursue my ongoing passion for photography. In the span of about 9 months, I’ve grown my online presence on Facebook by over 1000% and my photography business is receiving massive free exposure on various local blogs. I’m also achieving at a similar level to the top talent in Austin; these are people who’ve been in the game much longer. I refuse to give up on my talent and passion. As the saying goes, do what you love and the money will follow. I firmly believe this is true with all my heart. It just takes precious time to build up momentum and reach a critical mass. If I continue moving at the same pace, it’s difficult to imagine where I’ll be within the next ten years but I’m positive it will far surpass my wildest dreams. My ultimate goal is to be traveling the world and getting paid for the pleasure. I would love to be involved with a humanitarian or philanthropic mission.
I believe social capital is 100 times more important than money when you’re building a business from the ground up. The difficult part is often leveraging the influential connections in your virtual Rolodex to maximize benefit to each party. To that end, I’ve set up email marketing campaigns to spread awareness of my current goals. I recently finished an insightful book entitled Give And Take. It demonstrates through extensive case studies that, contrary to popular opinion; givers routinely rise to the top, not takers or matchers. Your true calling is discovered in the deliberate process of helping others.
In less than two weeks, I’m traveling to Peru on an excellent adventure. No Bill & Ted, but roughly 14 of my Austin friends will be waiting for my arrival in Cusco. I’m flying into Lima and staying with an American host in Miraflores (safe area near the coast) for two days, then making my way up to Machu Picchu, which is one of the great wonders of the world. My Airbnb host in Lima went to Stanford and is the director of marketing at Cabify, essentially the Uber of Latin America. This is quite a coincidence and she will probably prove to be a great connection for my app startup moving forward. I will obviously have all my camera equipment at the ready. My lovely friend Jenna has the entire travel itinerary mapped out. I really appreciate everything she’s done since planning has never been my strong suit. Pretty much all I have to do is show up and enjoy the magnificent experience with awesome people. We’re hiking from Cusco to Lake Titicaca all the way up to Machu Picchu and back to Cusco, staying in hotels along the way. I actually bought a one-way ticket for only $240 (same price as a cheap ticket to and from LAX) to Lima and may fly to Quito, Ecuador before making my way to Long Beach and back to Austin. This will be my first time leaving the United States! I’m 28 years old. There is a gigantic world to explore and I refuse to sit idly by and live in a safe cocoon. As the saying goes, life begins at the end of your comfort zone. I’ve been actively driving Uber, renting my place on Airbnb and finding occasional photography gigs just to save up enough money to live comfortably on another continent for nearly a month. It should be easily achievable on my tight budget since the cost of living is substantially cheaper in South America. I took three years of Spanish in my formative school years but my working proficiency is now very limited. It’s not of much concern since I will be meeting with my amigo/as shortly after arriving. A flight from Lima to Cusco at the airport is roughly $30. Driving in Peru is strictly discouraged, as it’s considered very dangerous, not to mention the fact that petrol is very expensive. This great adventure will be a momentous transformative experience! My vision is focused and clear!