For the past couple days, the co-founder of a16z* and Y-Combinator-backed Genius.com has been publicly fellating himself over his guide on How to Shoplift From Whole Foods. He calls it “bootstrapping”.
First of all, the guide isn’t very good. Mislabeling your bulk food purchases? Pocketing fruit from the children’s bin? That’s about as clever as snatching grandma’s purse.
But poor Mahbod needs to satiate his paleo diet on a bootstrapped budget, and a discount grocer just won’t suffice!
We admire hustle, we love stories of how entrepreneurs resort to creative methods to make ends meet. The YC application specifically asks founders to describe a non-computer system they have successfully hacked.
A hack is an innovation that allows you to get around annoying rules that you don’t think make sense for your situation. Many recent startups gained acclaim because they provide fantastic hacks.
Uber is a great example of a hack: Taxicab licensing rules are annoying and only serve to make a few people’s lives better (the taxi medallion owners) while making many people’s lives worse. Waze allows drivers to report speed traps and police checkpoints because we all know that CHP officers only issue tickets to fill their quotas. Airbnb shirks rental and zoning regulations, and the world is arguably a better place for it.
Is shoplifting a “hack”? Maybe Mahbod here doesn’t think that shoplifting rules make sense for his situation. Given that he has a law degree from Stanford, I find that hard to believe.
*Did Andreessen Horowitz know that their $55(?)-million investment was being used for Mahbod to personally expense $100 a day at Whole Foods? Dear pmarca: If you give irresponsible children (and Mahbod claims to be a “child”) large sums of money, you are not allowed to complain about startup burn rates.