Five years ago I moved to the Bay Area because I wanted to start a company. I came here armed with that single goal and the education of a dozen Paul Graham essays. To me, determination has an almost magical quality. I’d always felt that with enough of it I could do absolutely anything.
People say startups are risky, but for me, working at a job my entire life seemed like the worst possible outcome, so starting a company was the least risky thing I could do. I think that’s what people mean when they talk about founders being a little crazy. I realize this is an unusual personality trait.
To fund my adventure, I sold my car and bummed a ride to the Bay Area. I spent two days on the Berkeley public library computers looking for a place to live. I convinced a retired dentist to give me the keys to a cheap studio in El Cerrito before he’d seen any money or even gotten my signature on a lease. Looking for my apprenticeship, I started applying to startup jobs.
It turned out that 21-year-olds with no degree or marketable skills weren’t in great demand. As luck would have it, a paper I picked up told me it was the worst summer for jobs in a decade. Eventually my cash ran so low that I walked to downtown Berkeley and went into every business with an open door asking for job applications. Even there the response was abysmal. A week later I had exactly one offer. It was from Ben & Jerry’s, which I accepted.
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