Living in a car for 4 months: a bootstrapping story

Techsylvania 2015 Partner Horea Gruita & His Growing Startup CREATIX
July 18, 2015
Interviewing Flaviu Simihaian, the CEO of iMedicare
July 21, 2015
Show all

Living in a car for 4 months: a bootstrapping story

Founding a startup isn’t an easy task. It’s not like you wake up every morning at the same hour and stay 8 hours linked to a computer. Not at all. It’s a way of life.  You have to give everything, starting with.. well, kind of your whole time until the last cent, until you can see the results. We all know it doesn’t happen all the time, nor very fast. This is called bootstrapping. And this is a bootstrapping story about a dedicated entrepreneur who wanted to join the tech revolution by all means.

A man, a Car and His startup

Kurt Varner, actual Senior Product Designer at Shyp, jumped in his car a couple years ago and drove to Silicon Valley. He had a dream and he wanted to make it real. But because rent is extremely high in Palo Alto, and he hadn’t anyone there, he had to live in his car for 4 months. It does seem like an extreme example of a bootstrapping story, but we should see it as a life lesson.

He saved a grand amount of money, and beside this, he declared for Business Insider, that he “gained perspective on what really matters, including compassion for others less fortunate and the focus to pursue his true passion of design.” Wondering how did it? So did we, therefore we made a summary of his bootstrapping story here:

Monthly Costs

$219. He spent $100 for a 24/7 co-working membership, $39 for a 24/7 gym membership (mainly used for his personal hygiene), and $80 at the grocery store.


Kurt’s 2004 Honda Civic was the essential key for his bootstrapping story (living in your car is legal in Palo Alto). There he store all his possessions (his duffle bag, laptop, sleeping stuff and food). He also mentioned you can buy a car much cheaper than a month’s rent in the Bay Area.


This is the most essential thing and he made it work by folding down the rear seats and laying 3″ foam mattress pad from the truck to the rear interior. He said it isn’t as comfortable as a bed, but it’s not as bad as we think. Well, when you’re living your bootstrapping story, you sure don’t have many choices.


We already mentioned that he bought a fitness membership especially for his hygienic needs. Kurt used, every morning, to wake up and drive to the gym to take a shower. He also mentioned that having 24/7 access was really useful, especially if he had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Working and free time

He signed up for a Hacker Dojo co-working membership, where he spent all his time. They provide fast internet, a microwave, coffee, water, couches, community, etc for only $100/month.


Most of the food was stored in his car. The perishable items were stored in the Hacker Dojo communal refrigerators. Got to admit this bootstrapping story starts to make my insides knot, realizing it is possible to live without your fridge.


In order to have at least a decent amount of privacy, Kurt installed:

  • Tinted windows
  • Sunshade
  • Rear screen

bootstrapping story, kurt varner



So, what happened after the bootstrapping story ended?

Unfortunately, the app he wanted to launch didn’t become a hit, but he has his own version of the Silicon Valley dream: he resided with his wife in Mountain View, and as we already mentioned, he is a Senior Product Designer at the on demand shipping startup, Shyp. But what is his whole opinion about his experience?

Before these 4 months, everyday I took for granted things like a warm bed, shower, home cooked meals, etc. It’s easy to lose sight of how privileged the majority of us are, but there are many, many people without these basic things. I realized that even the simple things in life could bring me more happiness than a world of possessions.

You can read more about his bootstrapping story on his personal blog,


Did your startup go through a bootstrapping experience?

Comments are closed.