You’ve heard of startup entrepreneurs beginning with nothing. But few have probably started with less than Leo Grand.
After losing his job with MetLife, Grand also lost his home when rent on his apartment skyrocketed leaving him on the streets.
So it may be hard to believe that after nearly two years of living in shelters, he has not only learned a new skill that should make him more employable — Grand is also now an entrepreneur. He has launched his own app, Trees for Cars, to promote carpooling as a way to help the environment. The app is designed to connect drivers and riders.
The app is available on Google Play and the Apple app store for 99 cents and here’s a video pitch from Grand urging prospective users to download it:
Of course, Grand did not do all of this alone. Earlier this year, good samaritan and software engineer Patrick McConlogue offered the homeless man an important choice.
McConlogue would give Grand $100 to meet his immediate needs or, instead, he would buy Grand a laptop and teach him to write code.
Grand told NBC News he hopes his choice will change people’s minds about the homeless:
All homeless people are mentally ill, lazy, unintelligent — that’s the stigma. It doesn’t really matter your living arrangements as long as you’ve got the mindset to do it and the will.
Getting to this point hasn’t been easy. Grand spent an hour a day being tutored by McConlogue and then many hours working on his own
There were setbacks along the way, of course. In October, Grand was arrested by New York City police for sleeping on a park bench, Gothamist.com reports. And his precious laptop was confiscated. But with perseverance and the help of friends, he kept going.
Today he hopes for more than just the success of his app. He is also looking for a job and a place to live.
Meanwhile, his experiences so far have inspired another startup. McConlogue hopes soon to launch a complete Journeyman Course teaching others how to code for free.
Image: Journeyman Facebook