The Nomadic, Overly-Caffeinated Founding Team

A think-piece on growing a company in SF, sans office.


Starting a business is never simple or ‘pretty.’ Your bedroom, garage, kitchen, and living room are prime places to lay the foundation — but eventually you’ll need to leave your comfortable compound for more populated, caffeinated pastures.

Working at home everyday dulls your edge; it’s science. You need stimulation, a sense of competition and above all else, the right scenery to put out your best product.

That’s where my friends and I come in. We’ve walked these deserts, combed the lands and through trial & error, have found the places where the entrepreneur can go to get the job done the right way.

Let’s be clear, however: You can’t do this every day. You’d ruin yourself, Jack. Working in public costs a many o’ pretty pennies and you have to choose your adventures out there wisely.

So when you do go out, be strategic, and don’t go in blind. Make it count.


The map.

Split into three classes, we built a map that serves up spots for the main parts of your day: Workspace, Lunch, and Afterwork.

‘Workday’ locations (green) attempt to include at least the bare minimum: Coffee, Internet, & Accommodating Facilities. Some places fall short of one of these, but are still considered useful to a startup bedouin.

‘Lunch’ locations (yellow) are just that — sustenance, but for the budget-minded. There are always cheaper franchise options to be had, but we generally strive to support the local restaurant economy.

‘After-work’ locations (blue) are for your “let’s get beers”/night cap type of places.

(h/t to a similar strategy called Workstation Popcorn)


How to use it.

  1. Wake up and see where your first meeting of the day is, pick a green dot closest to that meeting; if no meeting, choose a green dot at random.
  2. Around the time you notice your stomach is cannibalizing itself, look for a yellow dot (Lunch); Eat.
  3. Go to next closest coffee shop and work until close.
  4. Optional: Libation meeting? Go to closest blue dot and close out your day.
  5. Rinse and repeat

The math.

You’ll probably realize that your honey pot will dry up quickly; so as with anything in life, venture out in moderation. Just for kicks, your daily burn would be somewhere between $52*. Therefore our annual burn would be: $52 * 5 Workdays * ~52 Work weeks = $13,520 a year

This may work for you & your capital situation, but obviously something to consider.

(*3-4 8oz Cups of Coffee @ $3/per: $12, Lunch: $12, 2-4 Libations+tip @ $7: $28)

Closing thoughts.

There are lots of ways to build a company but if you’re in the City by the Bay, take advantage of the oases we have. Stop procrastinating and don’t forget to drink water in-between your cups of coffee—a tip from grandpa and his pearly whites at age 90.

For your nomadically-oriented, working pleasure. Enjoy.

< Go to the interactive map here

Always open to additions or funny stories about any worthwhile oasis. I probably missed a lot. Get at me directly with any suggestions… @alblunk


Additional notes, if you’re bored...

Why not just work from home? It will be cheaper & more consistent of an experience.

It’s like the ‘Seabiscuit’ mentality… when you have little social interaction (at home) it’s tough to benchmark your workday effectively. Whereas when you see Man-O-War building the next ‘over-night sensation’ right next to you—you perk up and do what it takes to cross that day’s finish line.

How little goods can you purchase and get away with a full day of work?

Really depends on the shop. I would say 1-2 beverages per 4 hours in shop will be the minimum (any more and youll probably get caffeine induced ticks)—if you work through lunch, you should at least get a muffin or cookie. But coffee joints are well aware of squatting workers, and do things to combat them from positing up for a whole day; as well as the sight of a bunch of head-down robots killing the vibe. A couple tactics I’ve noticed — providing no electric outlets, no internet, or having ‘dedicated eating spaces’ during lunch hours. So keep a look out for these passive aggressive hints that you’re not welcome the whole day.

Restrooms? What to look for?

Cleanliness is an obvious one. But I’d like to point out a simple mechanism that really classes up the simple coffee shop restroom; a key.It allows the user to take their time and not be interrupted by knocks (the worst) while reading their morning comic strips. It also lends itself an unspoken rule not to build a line to use the facilities; avoiding a semi-shameful exit if you took your time in there.

Where do I sit in the coffee shop?

Avoid glare from windows, closest to plug, in a chair with a back and as far away from the speakers as possible. In the same vein — bring headphones… it’s not rude, you’re working. You do you.

Double dipping? (2x in a day)

Of course it’s acceptable, but on the second go-around assume that you’ll get harassed optically (or verbally) if you don’t support the establishment.

Bringing your own mug?

Some places offer discounts or if you live around the corner, go ahead. Otherwise, it’s probably weird.

Why not a library?

Quiet, unadulterated studying, copious materials on anything you’d probably want to research, free computer usage — but in the end, you’ll most likely be sharing your cubicle with someone who may or may not have slept in their own urine last night.