Open Sourcing My Privilege

Open Sourcing My Privilege

I have privilege. It’s a non-zero reason for where I am today.

On the flip side, I’ve found that I suffer from privilege guilt, and it’s held me back from objectively high impact actions. I’ve been in fear of others thinking my success undeserved.

I’d like to assert that my success extends beyond the privileges I started with, though one could aways argue that privilege is everything.

It’s a valid argument.

I’m not here to determine if that argument is right or wrong, but I do want to open-source my own privileges and experiences to allow myself and others to make their own conclusions as to how deserved my success is.

By opening myself up for privilege criticism, my intention is to free myself from the fear of it, so I can move forward into 2022 and the future without reservations.

The Facts:

My Demographics

Synopsis: I hold a majority of the commonly accepted “privileged” demographics

  • I am white
  • I am male
  • I am cisgender
  • I am heterosexual
    • I was bicurious in college and experimented with sex with a man
      • It taught me I’m indeed heterosexual
      • My family and friends knew of this and were supportive. No need to “come out”.
  • I’m born and raised in the USA
    • Childhood spent on a farm in rural Illinois
  • I’ve never been diagnosed with a chronic health disease
  • I’ve never been diagnosed with a mental disease
    • Though I suspect I’ve developed undiagnosed anxiety in the last two years
  • I was diagnosed with ADD
  • I’m fully able bodied
  • I hold a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering
  • I’d say I’m genetically disposed to be a 6 on the 10 scale of physical attractiveness
    • I view this as perfect privilege:
      • Attractive enough to be treated normally
      • Unattractive enough to have had to learn social skills and personal care
        • With those, I like to think I’m an San Francisco 8 😉

My Parents

Synopsis: My parents are healthy, loving, and had their shit together

  • I have two living, healthy parents
  • My father is a farmer, with a bachelor’s in agricultural mechanics from a state school
    • He was my first entrepreneurial role model
  • My mother is a stay-at-home mom, with a community college degree
  • Both frequently said “I love you” to each other and to me
  • They were married when I was born
  • They’ve remained married, though with a rocky period through my teens
  • Their relationship is stronger than ever now
  • They were physically healthy due to farm work. My mother frequented the gym as well
  • They are heavily conservative leaning, especially with fiscal matters
  • They rarely talked about politics
  • Despite their conservative politics, they were socially inclusive
    • They are sex-positive
    • They had sexually diverse friends
    • They had racially diverse friends
      • (at least, as racially diverse as rural Illinois could be)
  • They’ve never once raised their voices at each other
  • They did not do drugs
  • They had an very healthy relationship with alcohol
    • I’ve seen my parents intoxicated at most 5 times
  • They taught me to love math and science
    • We’d do mental math equations for fun on road trips
  • Despite me being the only son in a multi-generation family farm, they never pressured me to take over the family business

My Childhood Experience With Money

Synopsis: My family has money but was always humble about it

  • My family was middle class when I was born
    • Older, single-family farm house
    • Boxed and frozen dinners
    • We went to school in the public school system
    • If we “needed” anything, there was always money for it
  • Early in childhood, the farm had “a good year” and family spending seemed to increase
    • We built a large 5br farm house
    • We bought a 2nd home, a no-frills cabin on a lake in Wisconsin
    • We owned more farmland than the average farmer around us
    • We started buying more organic and whole foods
  • Safe to say we moved from middle to upper class through my youth
  • My parents generally refused to talk about money, out of desire to not appear showy
    • To this day I don’t know their official net worth, land ownership, and annual income
    • They’ll be upset at me even hinting toward their wealth in this blog
      • If you’re reading this, Mom and Dad, sorry. Writing this is part of my self actualization.
  • We were generally frugal with material purchases
    • Basic clothing, generally from Kohls
    • Bought cars new, but never luxury brands
  • We were willing to spend on experiences
    • I tried 10+ sports growing up
    • I had a dirtbike
    • My sisters raised and rode horses
    • We had an RV that we’d use for a yearly two-week US road trip
    • My dad purchased and learned to fly a WW2 biplane
    • We frequented ski slopes
    • I got to do a two week student ambassador trip to Australia
    • We all raised livestock for 4H
      • I raised pigs
        • My parents paid for the purchase of the piglets, and pig food
        • I did the work (cleaning, walking, training)
        • I received 100% of the sale price on the pigs
          • I was able to put 100% of that into savings
          • Through my childhood, I saved probably $10k worth of pig money
  • My parents did not give us an allowance
  • My parents did not let us get a job outside the farm
    • I worked for $8-$10 per hour on the farm if I wanted personal spending money
      • Driving tractors
      • Performing mechanical maintenance
      • Hand weeding the fields
      • Being a lumberjack
  • My parents bought me and my three siblings two cars, to share during our high school years
  • My parents did not push for top tier schools or standardized testing
    • I only attended a couple public school organized ACT prep sessions
    • I scored 33 on the ACT
  • My parents fully paid my university tuition and living expenses
    • I was gently encouraged to not apply to Ivy League or expensive coastal schools
    • I went to Iowa State University on academic scholarships, so ~$20k per year
      • 3.85 GPA
  • My parents openly offered: “you can always live at home for free as long as you’re working toward a positive future”
    • I always ignored this offer out of pride, but it’s a legitimate safety net

My Transition to Self-Sufficiency

Synopsis: I went straight into startup after undergrad and hit runway zero multiple times

Note: a lot of my personal finances and business finances were mixed until 2020, so this self sufficiency is intertwined with my startup finances

  • I became living-expense self-sufficient halfway through undergrad
    • Due to two engineering internships
      • First hiring manager was unrelated to me, so I was hired fully off of merit
      • Second hiring manager was a cousin’s frat bro so maybe it wasn’t 100% merit
    • Parents continued to pay my tuition
  • I spent my savings from pig revenues, farm income, and internship income to fund:
    • Two study abroads (Spain, Singapore)
    • Worldly travel (~25 countries)
    • Half of a failed invention Patent during my first startup
    • A summer spent building a motorcycle and traveling instead of working a third internship
  • I graduated undergrad in 2018 with no student debt, and ~5 months of personal Iowa runway
  • I never got a full time job, instead opting to be a solo startup founder
  • My parents invested $15k as my first angels
    • They did so reluctantly, and would otherwise never invest in a venture scaled startup
  • I tried and failed to raise additional friends and family money
  • I moved to Mountain View in Silicon Valley
    • Zero connections
    • I lived in bunkbed hacker homes
    • I tried and failed to raise any extra investment money
  • I hit runway zero after 4 months
    • This was my first experience of not knowing if I could pay for food
  • I got into $5k credit card debt
  • I started bartending nights and weekends to pay the bills while I learned to code
    • About a year of this
    • I lived on rice, eggs, and beans for the year
    • Occasional gifts from parents to support added up to about $5k through the year
    • On my birthday, friends and family sent me gifts of a few months worth of rice, eggs, and beans
    • This is when my mental health began to decline
  • I moved up into another hacker house San Francisco
  • I hit runway zero a second time
  • I became $15k in credit card debt
  • I got a $5k bailout from my parents
    • which I secretly added to their $15k investment to make it $20k
  • I landed our first external angel investor, for $20k
  • I paid off the debt
  • COVID hit
  • I hit runway zero a third time
  • I got into credit card debt again
    • And six months behind on rent
    • SF housing rules dictated that they couldn’t kick me out
  • I landed our second angel, for $30k
  • I sold all my belongings
  • I paid off the debt and overdue rent
  • I moved to Mexico City to extend runway
  • Through 2020 I earned about $3k worth of crypto from a startup mentor in weekly shipping competitions
  • I hit runway zero a fourth time
  • My crypto winnings had grown, so I bootstrapped on exclusively that for about three months
  • I landed our third angel investment, for $15k
  • My startup, Banana (formerly Booste) finally took off
  • I got accepted into
    • Would have hit runway zero a fifth time had it not been for cloud credits
  • I raised a $240k pre-seed round
    • Paid myself just enough to survive comfortably
    • No savings, skipping payroll when possible
  • I raised an oversubscribed $1.7m seed round
    • Still paying myself breakeven income
    • No savings
  • Finally got to move around a bit, and spent a few months living in SF, Paris and Florence
  • Now 2022, I’m moving back to Mexico City
    • Not because of money, but because I love it there
    • I don’t plan to take a pay cut from my current SF income, so I will finally have savings


I had a whole lot of help initially, tempered by a rocky patch 2018 - 2021, but I believe it is fair to say that I’m independently creating my own future from now onward.

Privilege that will always apply:

  • My visible demographics
  • My US citizenship
  • Momentum from my education
  • The worst case scenario safety net of moving back in with my parents

Things I’ve earned for myself:


I run ultramarathons and live out of a backpack as an international digital nomad


My entire network right now was built from zero starting when I moved to California


My net worth has surpassed that of my parents, with the most recent Banana valuation

Here ends my open-sourced privilege audit.

If it still upsets you, that’s fine.

I’m going to do my best to use it for good.