an adventure in creative fundraising
These are the first few pages of a novel I am writing. It's about start up founders who, start selling cocaine to extend their runway, and end up creating a syndicate that uses the App Store to wash their dirty money.
“No trust me man, I saw this in a movie,” Carlos said as he took the five grand that we had raised between the two of us and split into to two stacks, and passed one to me.
He continued, “count yours out” I did, all 20s of varying crispness, “alright man, so when you go in there keep half in each of your pocket. That way if it goes bad right?”
‘yeah, we’ll still have half, gotchoo man’ I answered.
I’m breathing in and out, not near hyperventilation but definitely feeling pumped. I started shaking my hands out. Like a dude trying to cover up some DTs or if you found out a spider was on your hand, semi frantic like.. Carlos starts laughing. “I can’t believe we are doing this man.”
“Oh fuck man,” I said “I know right dude? I mean. It can’t be to hard, this is the part that’s hard right? I mean like ughh argh.. this is why the money’s in drug dealing, cuz this part is scary right?”
Carlos nods. “yeah man, yeah its a fucking like risk tolerance thing man”
I start jumping up and down, stomping when I landed like I used to as a kid skiing back home colorado, before I would hit a big jump. Chanting berserker berserker berserker to myself. My mom’s side the family were vikings so I figure talking about their warriors would be the right way to get pumped right?
Carlos keeps laughing. I go take a piss for the 3rd time that hour, and light a cigarette before I flush. Menthol, American spirit. Lights of course I can’t quite fuck with the full flavor of anything anymore. Been toying with the idea of quitting for a year or so but haven’t felt much of a good reason yet, I’ll stop when I’m looking to have babies shit out on my behalf, so another 10 years or so, I mean I’m 26 now.
26 man. fuck
I thought I’d be sooo much further in life by now. I mean I did all the right things, right? Same with Carlos. We went to school and got good grades, and real diplomas, no MFAs or that shit. I’ve got a double in Business and Economics with top marks for fuckssake. But is there any decent work for me? No. Well, actually that’s bullshit. I’d gotten really good ($$$) offers, but the shit looked boring. Banks, investment houses, futures, blah. Excel jockeying gets old fast. Don’t get me wrong. I tried doing it for a bit but I just couldn’t fuck with it for long before I wanted to die. A fucking suit? a tie? fucking be in the office at 7:30 ass shit? naw man. I mean its 2015, why are we still bothering with this kind of shit?
Carlos was in the same position as me. But did graphic design in school with an accounting minor. He’d worked desing for a year or two at the nations largest and most overpriced f natural grocery chain (take a wild guess at who we are talking about) iin addition to freelancing. Making bullshit logos for lawyers and contractors. And a bunch of other borring shit. You can only hear the phrase ‘but can you make it pop’ so many times. Contractors were the worst he told me. Those fucks knew how to haggle as good as anyone, and were apt to stiff you.
Anyways, I flush the toilet right, and do a token run of the faucet rinse of my fingers. dry my hands off on my pants. Jeans were invented for a reason right? Can’t get my filter wet or it fucks up the whole smoke. So I’m soldiering that shit, biting it in my teeth in the washing process, smoke getting in and burning my eyes and shit.
“Should we bring protection or something man?’ Carlos asks.
“Like trojans man? or some other kind of magnum?” I asked
“yeah thats what i’m saying a fucking piece dude, like a hand cannon, a hearer a gat. Something I could refer to as 'my little friend' and ask bad guys to say hello to him. That kind of thing you feel?”
“haha yeah yeah I get it man, I’m gonna skip the lazy cock joke, but umm naw I don’t have anything, you?”
“Naw me neither”
then we just sat there for a while, put some music on and just waited a bit. I kept feeling to make sure the money didn’t fall out of my pocket, not that it could have but fuck I was nervous right?
“when we need to meet these dudes?” I asked “90 minutes give or take, traffic wise should only take 20 minutes to get there.”
“cool, cool.” I paused, “mk, well let’s skip the heater this time around but for our first round of sales we should probably start ‘strapping’ I guess is the word”
“agreed. yeah uggghhh ahah man this is crazy should we be doing this? I mean Gucci Mane makes it sound easy but that’s his job to make it sound easy and shit”
ok so here’s an aside. My name is Aram right? Carlos is my buddy. We went to school together, used to be roommates, all that jazz. For the past year or two since we graduated both of us have been jumping around from job to job doing shit related to our degrees. Really getting the shit kicked out of us. First it was just a pain in the ass to get a job tied down. Then once you had it it was all colors of soul crushing. See, people in our parents generation say that we are a bunch of entitled little shits, for having the idea that work should be fun and meaningful and shit. But they were the ones telling us all that shit right? So it’s on them and the fucking world they built (and later destroyed in ’08) that we ended up like this.
We had given this conventional version of grown up life a fair shot, and it blew. So we decided to build our own thing. Luckily we can both program halfway decently. So the little squirrels and shit in our heads started running, yeah look at all these assholes going out and raising obscene amounts of money for bullshit ideas like ‘myspace for cats’ and uber for chair delivery. If they could do it why not us?
So we cooked up an idea that we knew would work right? or at least it made a lot of sense to us. A messaging app with cool custom stickers, so it’s like way better emojis, and a more intuitive way to sort through groups of friends. Sounds good right?
Well everyone’s baby is the prettiest baby ever right? Maybe it actually was shit. Certainly Angel Investor and Venture Capitalist we went to for an investment thought so. Naturally, after meetings that went poorly Carlos and I would vent about how these ‘money guys’ were just lacking in vision, and that we weren’t getting the startup money because we lacked the pedigree to be relatable to VC. We may have been sour-graping it a little but hey, either way we got sick of it.
But we also needed to eat right?
And we had this idea that we knew would go gang busters. Only problem was that we had no way of getting it started, well way up and running anyway. We needed at least $100k to get it moving properly for marketing and hiring better developers than us, that kind of shit.
So you can see, we were in a position where we were that fucking good guy Nigerian prince who honestly just needs a little bit of cash to unlock his fortune. But people all thought we were scamming and full of shit.
So we said fuck it.
We were listening to a lot of Atlanta Trap music at the time Gucci Mane, young scooter and all those dudes. We were like, dude. We can wrap a brick. We can work a scale, and we can do all the other sundries that are required in such an operation.
Plus we would wash the money through our nascent startup, which did us good on two fronts, it proved revenue that made us more desirable when it was time for us to raise actual money, and it put us in a position where we wouldn’t need to get as much money. or would be less desperate right?