On his way to work in 2013, tech entrepreneur Patrick McConlogue walked past a homeless man, Leo Grand, who was exercising with a heavy chain. McConlogue took this as a sign of Grand’s internal drive and motivation and decided to try an experiment:
The idea is simple. Without disrespecting him, I will offer two options:
1. I will come back tomorrow and give you $100 in cash.
Leo turned down the money and took the opportunity to learn how to code. McConlogue saw this a portending great things: “It turns out Leo is a genius particularly concerned with environment issues.”
McConlogue initially gave Grand a laptop and some books and met with him an hour a day for tutoring. Later he would take off work for five weeks to work with Grand full-time on a smartphone app, “Trees for Cars.” Even before the app launched, McConlogue was dreaming about how to scale up the process into a program to help other “people in need”: