How I Survived on $250 For An Entire Summer in Silicon Valley

Posted on September 19, 2011

Rumor has it that you have to raise money in order to survive in Silicon Valley. Most people are afraid of moving there because of the money factor. Well, I spent the last three months in Mountain View and my costs totaled just shy of $250. If I can do it, anyone can do it. It just depends on how badly you want it.

Let’s go over the major costs:

Rent

I was lucky enough to have a cousin in Menlo Park who offered me a room behind his house. Three months of free rent and utilities certainly helped. Thankfully, my grandparents also lived about two hours away, so during the weekends I stayed with them. If you have any family or friends in the area, just ask, and if not, try to find a cheap housing arrangement on Craigslist or AirBNB.

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Food

I’m proud to say that I spent approximately $20 on food this summer thanks to a strategy I perfected over time. First off, breakfast. The office where I worked provided an incredible breakfast each morning: oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, bagels, fruit and more. Lunch, either I had toasted bagels and cream cheese at the office or I made sure to schedule lunch with someone that would be happy to cover it, ahead of time. For dinner, I attended events with delicious food every night.

The two best part of events are networking and eating. Thanks to EpicLaunch, I was able to obtain a complimentary press pass for most events. I found out about 95% of events by religiously reading Startup Digest, Plancast and Garys Guide.

Be creative, a meal doesn’t have to be in a restaurant or at home in a traditional way. If you open up yourself to other options you’ll certainly be able to save money.

Transportation

My primary method of transportation was a bike that I borrowed from a friend. When I needed to travel long distances I biked to the train station and bought eligible discount tickets since I was under 18. On most days, I took the train which, unfortunately, made up the bulk of my costs for the summer.

Office Space and Infrastructure

One of the greatest benefits to being a part of the Teens In Tech incubator was having access to many resources at no cost. First off, we had incredible office space at Appcelerator. The incubator also provided us with free hosting, incredible mentors and educational workshops.

Clothing

Throughout this experience I gained an entire suitcase of clothing — for free. Throughout my stay, I collected over 30 startup shirts, including: Klout, Disqus, Mozilla, Bump, Udemy, Livefyre, Meebo, Evernote, Waze, Salesforce, Olark, Teens In Tech, WePay, Uservoice, Formspring and many, many more. I will admit that I had to pay $15 for my own startup shirt to represent MySchoolHelp. Since I only bought one and wore it almost every other day I made a serious investment in Axe deodorant. If you’re interested in seeing pictures of some of the shirts feel free to take a look here.

Shwag

Asides from shirts, I also needed business cards, stickers and magnets. The business cards I printed through Vistaprint, which was the cheapest option and included a 50% discount.

Since I had hosted a custom magnet giveaway on EpicLaunch earlier in the summer, the sponsor company, Uprinting, provided me with 100 of my own in return. And thanks to my buddy Noah Kagan at AppSumo, we worked out a deal to promote AppSumo on EpicLaunch and he gave me access to their StickerMule deal for free.

I hope this post helps all the aspiring entrepreneurs out there who want to make their way to Silicon Valley. Believe me it’s 100% worth it.

As Kyle Macdonald described me on Twitter: I’m “epic frugal”, which is certainly true but it was all for the greater good for my startup.

Up to the challenge? Love to hear your thoughts.


23 Replies to "How I Survived on $250 For An Entire Summer in Silicon Valley"

  • Shonika Proctor
    September 19, 2011 (7:50 pm)
    Reply

    Hey Ben,

    Glad you had an awesome summer in the Valley. Hope you got to meet some of my folks while you were there and good to see that you are still rocking that press pass tip. Cheers.

    @teenbizcoach

    • Ben Lang
      September 20, 2011 (3:46 am)
      Reply

      Hey,

      Thanks! I sure did :)

  • How I Survived on $250 For An Entire Summer in Silicon Valley - [TBF] - Teen Business Forum
    September 20, 2011 (8:00 am)
    Reply

    […] Summer in Silicon Valley If any of you are looking for bootstrapping tips, here are mine: How I Survived on $250 For An Entire Summer in Silicon Valley __________________ BenjaminLang.com […]

  • Stephen Perkins
    September 20, 2011 (10:41 am)
    Reply

    Great article Ben! Although, I think I might be able to do it with only $200 :)

  • Cec
    September 20, 2011 (4:56 pm)
    Reply

    Ben,

    Great post. I hope to visit the Valley in two years, when I’m about 16. I’ve already started looking at prices, working out what I’m going to need. It’s really inspiring to know that my dream is possible, and doesn’t even necessarily cost that much!

    @cecMUSIC

    • Ben Lang
      September 21, 2011 (12:35 am)
      Reply

      Awesome, good luck.

      • Tram Tran
        September 22, 2011 (9:48 am)
        Reply

        good job on the post.
        I have always admired young entrepreneur like yourself.
        The post is very eye-catchy
        also, i just liked you on FB=)

  • Adam Toren
    September 21, 2011 (1:45 pm)
    Reply

    Ben,

    Congrats! What a great story and summer experience. I’m sure you met some great people during your ‘dinners’/networking as well! Looking forward to keeping updated on the progress of MySchoolHelp!

  • Accounting Steph
    September 21, 2011 (2:00 pm)
    Reply

    And now if you went on ebay to sell all those new T-shirts you might even be quids in :)

  • Matt Lock
    September 24, 2011 (2:32 am)
    Reply

    Great article Ben! Looks like you had an EPIC summer! :)

  • steve
    September 27, 2011 (9:42 pm)
    Reply

    wow!Money can’t buy what you have gone through. Envy! Great Article!

  • Mark
    September 30, 2011 (2:22 am)
    Reply

    Hey!
    Thank you good luck! Great strory.

  • tracy collins
    September 30, 2011 (11:56 pm)
    Reply

    AWSOME ARTICLE 1!!!!

  • From Silicon Valley to the IDF: 18 Year Old Entrepreneur Is Home | New Middle East News
    November 10, 2011 (5:25 pm)
    Reply

    […] While most of us who have made aliyah from the West have given up something (anything from a good job to Entenmann’s donuts!) Ben has given up a whole lifestyle – and not jus a  lifestyle, but the lifestyle that deep down, members of the “Start-Up nation” strive for. Example: This past summer, Ben attended a special incubator program for teenage entrepreneurs, living in Silicon Valley – on a total of $250 for the whole summer! […]

  • From Startups in Silicon Valley to the Israeli Army
    November 28, 2011 (4:27 pm)
    Reply

    […] months, participating in an incubator, going to events and throughout my whole stay surviving on just $250 (that’s bootstrapping to the […]

  • From Startups in Silicon Valley to the Israeli Army | E-investing
    November 28, 2011 (10:49 pm)
    Reply

    […] months, participating in an incubator, going to events and throughout my whole stay surviving on just $250 (that’s bootstrapping to the […]

  • Chris McCann
    December 1, 2011 (11:11 pm)
    Reply

    LOL love how people are using StartupDigest for free food :)

    BTW Ben if you are reading this > http://bit.ly/rWc2hE

  • Derek Schrock
    January 1, 2012 (6:14 pm)
    Reply


    “If I can do it, anyone can do it. It just depends on how badly you want it.”

    “I was lucky enough to have a cousin in Menlo Park who offered me a room
    behind his house. Three months of free rent and utilities certainly
    helped”

    Why didn’t you just save time and type “Get shit for free”?

  • A b
    August 7, 2012 (6:14 am)
    Reply

    Please change your title to “how I survived a summer in sillicon Bally with only 250$, a an apartment and a job” as the current title is misleading.

    • Michael Hwan
      September 19, 2012 (2:07 am)
      Reply

      Yes the title is misleading but it caught your attention and you clicked it and read it. @d9571dc14d1cff9758cec2863da391a2:disqus well done!

  • From Startups in Silicon Valley to the Israeli Army | Ben Lang
    July 12, 2013 (6:51 am)
    Reply

    […] months, participating in an incubator, going to events and throughout my whole stay surviving on just $250 (that’s bootstrapping to the […]

  • How I Survived on $250 For An Entire Summer in Silicon Valley | Ben Lang
    July 20, 2013 (3:49 pm)
    Reply

    […] post originally appeared on EpicLaunch was reposted here with permission from Ben […]


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