Entrepreneur Secretly Squats The AOL Headquarters

Grace Higgins | January 20th, 2020

One crafty entrepreneur decided to save some living costs while working on his startup, but simply squatting in the AOL headquarters. In 2012, Eric Simons spend a good few months living on the internet giant’s campus in Palo Alto in California. It was a pretty sweet deal, he would eat for free, enjoy gym access and built a start-up in the process.

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It reads like a Silicon Valley folklore legend, but Simons who had just finished high school 2 years ago, was suddenly working lengths to bring his entrepreneur dreams to life. And sure there are many legends about startup founders living off noodles and barely sleeping while they try to make their dreams into reality – this story is even crazier.

Eric Simons simply lived in the sprawling AOL complex, hiding out on couches during the night and eating the company’s food. He even was using their gym to shower and exercise. He had accepted a slot in a new Silicon Valley incubator called Imagine K12. It was a company that focused on helping teachers create and find new lesson plans and then share them with teachers and students anywhere. So how did he end up hiding out at AOL?

Well, the incubator program wasn’t that great, he wasn’t provided with any mentoring support, he was just given $20,000 in cash. Sure that sounds nice but after a few months most of the money was gone and the program was finished, most of his fellow students in the mentorship program simply went back to University. Simons did not have that option, and well as it happened the program was hosted in AOL’s huge Palo Alto campus. The great part? His badge kept working when the program ended.

So Simons started to live in their headquarters because he couldn’t afford anywhere to live. He noticed that some couches were outside of the night security team’s patrols, so he would just work late until everyone had gone home before moving to one of the couches. In the morning he would get up early and hit the gym. He was working hard around 12 hours a day, and only spending about $30 a month!

The complex even had a laundromat so he kept his clothes clean. Eventually, after a few months, one security guard came in early and scoured the whole complex looking for him. They were pretty mad that he was treating the place like a dormitory, but it seems Simons’s hard work paid off as he scored some grant money after investors heard about his tenacity.

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