The Fairytale-Like Story Behind This Homeless Man Who Just Launched His First App

A stranger offered this homeless man a choice: $100 in cash or coding lessons. What he chose changed his life.

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This aspiring entrepreneur proves that sometimes the only difference between a homeless person and a tech innovator is an opportunity

About four months ago 37-year-old Leo Grand was homeless on the streets of New York, and by all accounts, he had few prospects. He didn't know the first thing about computer programming.

He was living on the streets of New York City in late August, when a complete stranger approached, offering a choice between two months of coding lessons and $100 in cash.

Grand opted for the lessons, and 3,621 lines of code later, he has released his first mobile app.

Today, he launched location-based carpooling service Trees for Cars—his first ever app, made from 3,621 lines of code that he personally wrote

The app — an environmentally conscious carpool organizer called "Trees for Cars" — went live on the App Store just after 12:00 a.m. ET Tuesday, around the same time it went live for Android users.

The app a homeless man built. Leo Grand's remarkable story of how he learnt code on the streets is inspiring.

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Trees for Cars is a mobile application that aims to save the environment by helping users carpool to their destinations, and Grand programmed the entire thing himself from the streets of Manhattan with just 16 weeks of coding lessons.

It also provides information on how much CO2 the user is saving with each ride which further encourages environmental awareness, creating within the app a healthy competition amongst users to save the most CO2.

In August, Grand was approached by Patrick McConlogue, a developer at educational search engine Noodle with an offer: $100 cash or two months of coding lessons for an hour daily

Grand chose the lessons and after more than three months of work—a time that included having a laptop confiscated by police, getting workspace donated from Noodle founder and Princeton Review founder John Katzman, and taking up five weeks worth of a Noodle employee's time—the app is now for sale.

Mashable reporter Fran Berkman was with Grand and McConlogue at midnight when the app went live:

“This is going to change my life in a magnificent way," Grand told Mashable shortly after the launch.

Leo Grand of Trees for Cars poses at a gas station in Manhattan that has been reclaimed as a park.

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"It is by far the most rewarding experience of my life," McConlogue said.

Grand, who is still homeless, told Mashable he hopes this app will lead to job opportunities, and that his first application would go to Google, right up the street.

All of the money the developers receive from this app goes to Grand, who will use it to help him further his programming education.

Patrick (left) and homeless Leo talk about their unlikely partnership

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Here's a video of Leo talking about the app:

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