Leo Grand, a homeless man living in New York City, has just released his first official app, according to the Gothamist.
Trees For Cars, a carpooling app that tells users how much CO2 they save per ride, has entered the market. Grand, who is homeless, began work on the app after programmer Patrick McConlogue approached him in August with two options.
Per McConlogue’s Medium blog post, they were:
- I will come back tomorrow and give you $100 in cash.
Grand chose the latter, and McConlogue kept his word, teaching him the basics of coding. According to the 23-year-old, Grand was responsible for virtually every aspect of the app, including the concept and name. Despite McConlogue’s act, many criticized his plans as taking advantage of a homeless man.
Just before Grand made his decision, blogger Sam Biddle initially compared McConlogue to “a 21st century a**hole Henry Higgins,” concluding that “we’ll have to wait for the next update, which I hope won’t occur because surely Patrick will realize this is degrading and horrible.”
According to Jessica Roy from Betabeat, the “homeless are not bit players in your imaginary entrepreneurial novella.”
McConlogue, for the most part, has brushed off the naysayers, “I would much rather have controversy and a ton of negative opinions if people ask the question of themselves,” he said. “The more important part is, what would you do personally? And what is the right thing do to? It’s a great way to not ignore the situation. I still don’t understand [the controversy]. It’s just two guys working on and learning to code,” he added.
Though the app’s release signals McConlogue fulfilling his promise to Grand, their partnership isn’t over yet. Grand is already hard at work on Trees For Cars 2, the programmer says. In addition, he wants to expand his app in the near future.
“This is not a charity event; it’s a business,” McConlogue said. ”[Grand] wants to turn Trees for Cars into a functioning carpooling service. He has a great vision, and he’s not done. This isn’t the last thing for him.”