Last December, Leo Grand developed a ride-sharing app that helped him earn a modest sum of cash. Although creating an app isn’t something unique, Leo managed to make something from it, even for the fact that he was homeless.
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Four months prior to the launching of the app, he learned to code. And by the time it was released, he became the center of national attention, helping him generate about $14,000. Even so, Leo is still homeless.
Looking back at his story, Leo, as well as his young mentor in programming, Patrick, never really wanted attention. They just wanted to find quick-and-easy solutions for people.
Their story started summer of 2013. Every day, Patrick McConlogue walked to work. On his way, he would notice a homeless man carrying chains diligently hoping to get some exercise. Apparently, the man was Leo Grand.
For three years, Leo lived on the streets of Manhattan’s West Side. Patrick, on the other hand, is a programmer for an educational startup.
One day, Patrick realized that maybe his knowledge can be applied somewhere else.
Eventually, he started the blog titled “Finding the unjustly homeless and teaching them how to code.” The 23-year-old’s plan was pretty simple: he would ask Leo to choose between two things: receive $100 cash or the opportunity to learn a new skill, which is coding.
If he chose coding, he would give him books on the subject, a durable laptop, charging accessories, as well as daily lessons.
Patrick’s post was widely criticized by readers. Sam Biddle of Valleywag commented, “Surely, Patrick will realize this is degrading and horrible.” Jessica Roy of Time also said that the “homeless are not bit players in your imaginary entrepreneurial novella.”
Despite the varying reactions, Leo took the chance to learn. So Patrick continued his inspirational and special cause. From there, a friendship was born.
Business Insider decided to follow the two guys as they started their journey. They attended a coding lesson that was held in a public park in New York City. From there, they listened to simple conversations and discovered lots of things about the two’s personal lives.