living cheaply

Jay Clouse learning, stories

I met Alex just as I was nearing college graduation. He was familiar with the Business Builders Club, Ohio State’s entrepreneurship organization that I was running at the time, and knew he was looking for someone to join him in starting Tixers.

At the time, Alex had just won Startup Weekend Cincinnati with his idea for Tixers, a digital ticket marketplace with a loyalty twist, and decided to leave his corporate job to pursue it full time.

He had entered into the second class of an accelerator program in Covington, Kentucky, called UpTech. And as a single founder, he realized he couldn’t do it alone.

When I first talked to Alex, I thought he was a perfect candidate to take part in our small business career fair put on by the BBC. Talk with this guy, make $100 for the club, on to the next one.

But when we met, I knew that this was the opportunity I had been waiting for. We got along great, I [thought I] had marketplace experience starting a small marketplace while in college, and there was upside. I could join right at the start and have equity in this company. I could be rich!

After a month of “courting” where Alex and I talked quite frequently, I considered my options (and he considered his), and a couple of test projects, we started talking seriously about bringing me on board.

This was my first real test of negotiation. Negotiating my salary, my equity, and any other terms. I wanted to stay remote in Columbus, and he wanted to protect the company’s cash flow since he hadn’t yet raised any funding outside of the $50K from UpTech.

We agreed that we would cover my expenses + $200 per month to start out. While my classmates in the business college graduated and took jobs at an average clip of $45K and as high as $100K+ per year out of Ohio State, I was taking paychecks of $1100 before taxes.

And I know close friends who have survived on much less.

Unintentionally, this was another system that I had created. A system for enforcing the behavior of living cheaply. Limiting recurring expenses, discouraging consumption, and the motivation to bust my ass to get the company to a point where we could afford more.

Fast forward to now, and I’m back in the same spot. The skills and methods I learned to save cash are invaluable. Being able to live cheaply enables real freedom, and will continue to be invaluable even when cashflow is no longer a concern.


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