When Eric Simons, 20-year-old entrepreneur, needed a place to stay, he picked a very unusual spot: AOL’s Palo Alto, California office.
While it is common for employees at tech companies to work long hours, security employees became suspicious when they saw Simons working, showering, and napping at the ultra-cool office building….when he wasn’t even an employee anymore, according to The Huffington Post.
Simons gained his security access to the AOL campus when he was accepted into the first class of Imagine K12. The class was a tech incubator for companies who work in education, and as Simons was the founder of ClassConnect, he seemed a logical choice.
Following the class, though, Simons’ savings, as well as the $20,000 in venture capital he received from the program, was gone. With nowhere else to go, CNET reports that the young businessman realized his badge still worked, and came up with a plan to live at AOL. Simons remembered:
“I couldn’t afford to live anywhere…I started living out of AOL’s headquarters. They had a gym there with showers. I’d take a shower after work. I was like, ‘I could totally work here…They have food upstairs, they have every drink on tap. This would be a sweet place to live.’”
Unfortunately, Eric Simmon’s free ride at AOL’s Palo Alto campus was not meant to be. About two months after he moved in, CNET reports that the 20-year-old recalled being woken up by a security guard at 6a.m. He recalled:
“One of the guys who manages the building came in at like 5 or 6 in the morning…and he scoured the entire place to find me. And he ripped me a new one. He was pissed that I was treating it like a dorm. Which was reasonable.”
Soon after he was kicked out and he security badge removed, Simons’ hard work paid off. The Huffington Post reports that Simons secured $50,000 in funding from a place called Ulu Ventures, and also fron venture capitalist Paul Sherer, some of which the 20-year-old was able to use to begin renting his own place in Palo Alto.
Clint Korver of Ulu Venures stated of Eric Simons that:
“Tenacity and commitment are key attributes of a great entrepreneur. Eric has these in spades as demonstrated by his willingness to do whatever it takes to get his company off the ground.”
And Simons also found that AOL seemed to take the whole incident in stride, according to The Huffington Post, who states that Simons still uses the building for meetings, although they don’t let him take naps.
Senior vice president David Temkin told CNET of Eric Simons adventure that:
“It was always our intention to facilitate entrepreneurialism in the Palo Alto office. We just didn’t expect it to work so well.”