Homeless. Hungry 4 Success. (Take a Resume)

David Casarez was living in his car. Then he handed out resumes on a street corner and went viral. I checked in a year later. Short version: Good news. Also, 7 other things worth a click.

David Casarez went to college and earned a degree. He dreamed of working as a software developer in Silicon Valley and one day starting a technology company.

So, he packed his things, and drove west from Texas. He applied to hundreds of jobs and had lots of interviews.

But he got no offers, and he was running out of time — living in a Ford Transit van, sleeping sometimes in a park, showering at 24 Hour Fitness.

Down to his last $300 one day last year, he came up with an idea.

He printed copies of his resume, put on a dress shirt, and stood on a street corner in Mountainview, not far from the Googleplex, holding a sign:

HOMELESS

HUNGRY 4 SUCCESS

TAKE A RESUME

A passerby posted his picture and on Twitter, and the whole thing went viral. You can imagine the comments, praising him for looking for a job, not a handout.

Within a few days, Casarez said he'd been contacted by about 200 different companies willing to consider him for a job.

People wrote about him. I wrote about him. Then, everybody moved on.

Ramen noodles and hot water

I decided to check out how Casarez is doing now, a little over a year later. We connected over Twitter, email and eventually by phone. I was a bit concerned about what I'd find, to be honest.

But, Casarez told me he's happily working for a 60-employee company called Whitefox now (up from 20 employees when he started a year ago, he pointed out). The company “programs and builds products to stop drone threats," according to its official description.

He’s about 200 miles south of Silicon Valley now, in San Luis Obispo, where Whitefox is headquartered, and he’s making $94,000 a year. Not bad for a guy who told me he was living on ramen noodles and hot water from Starbucks a year ago.

"I wanted to really work for a startup company, and Whitefox was working in a space that I thought was really needed," Casarez said. "I'm in a better situation. I was able to get an apartment and everything, so things are great."

Kind of an experiment

I’m glad things worked out, but I’ll be honest: Casarez’s story seemed a little depressing, even if it had a happy ending.

Can you really work hard, get a degree in a high-demand field, run up student debt, and move to the place with the most tech jobs in the country — and still wind up living in a van and holding a sign?

Well, it seems there’s a little more to the story.

I don’t think that the sign was just a stunt, but talking with Casarez I get the impression that he liked the adventure of the whole thing. If the sign on a street corner hadn’t worked, he would have thought of something else.

As for living in a car, he’d actually started out in a tiny Chevy Sonic in Texas after a roommate situation didn’t work out. So in California, the idea of being in a Ford Transit was comparatively luxurious.

“I’d read articles about people doing it in the Bay Area,” he told me. (Actually, I remembered afterward, I wrote one of those articles.) “People would camp out on Google's campus, while working at Google, because rent is expensive. I thought, you know what? I can do the same thing.”

A lot going on

Besides his daytime job, Casarez has been working on a few startup ideas: a platform for people who sell food out of their homes, a marketplace for people to rent things like GoPro cameras and drones, and a location-based product search engine.

He's also working on a nonprofit idea intended to help homeless people and others in need.

In short, he's got a lot of projects. I can’t predict if he’ll succeed with any of them of course, but he’s the kind of guy you’d like to root for.

You know what you call someone who goes from living in a van to making close to six-figures in one year? Resourceful.

I’ve always thought that’s the best compliment you can give anybody who wants to be an entrepreneur.

7 other things worth a click

  1. It took a few lawsuits, but The Washington Post ran an investigation people will be talking about years from now: a secret government history of the Afghanistan War that shows the difference between what officials knew and what they told the public. (The Washington Post)

  2. If that Post story would take more time than you have, here's a reaction to it from a former Army infantry officer who served two tours in Afghanistan. Short version: he's not surprised. (The New Republic)

  3. Russia is banned from the Olympics and other international sporting events for four years. Reason: doping. (Business Insider)

  4. Pinterest and wedding site The Knot both say they won’t promote wedding venues that were once slave plantations anymore. (Buzzfeed News)

  5. Fully one quarter of Americans say either they or a family member have put off treatment for a serious medical condition in the past year because cost. (Gallup)

  6. House-hacking (noun): The practice of buying a house, then subletting parts of it to roommates who cover your mortgage. As in, “Meet the Millennials in this trend story who are house-hacking their way to home ownership.” (CNN)

  7. A scooter startup that spent a ton of its money on Facebook ads says it can't deliver the scooters, doesn't have cash for refunds, and (in the words of its CEO), “totally failed as a business." (The Verge)

Photo courtesy of Jasmine Scofield. Ideas and feedback actively solicited. (You read this far, why not subscribe?) Find me anytime on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter or via email at billmurphyjr@understandably.com.

Click to rate today’s installment: