Kurt Varner – Living In His Car And Launching A Business From Hacker Dojo Co-Work Space
Kurt Varner’s dream of launching a business isn’t out of the ordinary. Neither is it unusual that he decided to move to Palo Alto from Los Angeles in order to be closer to the innovative subculture that has produced or supported some of the world’s most used technologies. Curious instead was the 26 year-old’s decision to do it while living in his car. In Palo Alto it’s legal to live out of a car and as long as the car is moved every 72 hours, there’s no violation of city statutes although many in the city have fought for much stricter regulations.
Like many entrepreneurs, Varner had a steady full-time position that at a certain point failed to satisfy something internal. As a flight-test engineer with Edwards Airforce base, Varner was well-paid and living in Los Angeles with his wife, Caroline.
Today, Varner spends his days working on his new company Kickmade, to be launched this fall, which will sell projects funded through Kickstarter.
From day one in Palo Alto, Varner has been contacting noted investors, entrepreneurs, and developers in the hopes of getting valuable feedback. He’s garnered respect for his gutsy choice but has equally received criticism for the decision. He’s homeless in Palo Alto by choice and as he’s busy trying to build a business. For good reason, it’s a controversial set of circumstances.
Showering at a 24 hour gym, Varner has met with many of Silicon Valley’s most successful business people including Paul Bragiel. In a meeting with Varner, Bragiel suggested that Varner sell an app he made called DailyToaster for $1.99 to make some cash. Bragiel even shared his own story with Varner about moving from Chicago to Silicon Valley in 2005. “We had eight people living in three bedrooms. That got tons of press, too.”
In addition to Bragiel, Varner has met with many notable people in the Valley such as Sahil Lavingia, Brian Wong, and Josh Avant. Avant’s setup in his San Francisco apartment is minimalistic and although he does have savings to draw from, he mentions to Varner that having less allows space for more risks.
What’s Brian Wongs advice? “You’ve had enough meetings.”
The Unwritten Chapters
Varner’s not without previous business experience either. He founded Vloggo, a video blogging site, which was outmaneuvered by the competition and which he eventually sold. Working from co-work space Hacker Dojo, Varner’s able to get quality work time towards Kickmade and he’s still driven to make it happen.
Looking in from the outside some might say that there’s a fine line when it comes to what one is willing to sacrifice in order to achieve a dream and Kurt Varner’s dream isn’t out of the ordinary. In fact, he’s received much encouragement from the establishment as well as from supporters who read his blog and his tweets. On the other hand, Varner has also received much criticism for his efforts. It’s all part of the environment and position in which he’s placed himself. Who knows, maybe five years from now, we’ll be reading about a successful Varner and the advice he has for the person with a dream putting it all on the line, even their home and loved ones.