Side Hustle: The Real Mobile Hot Spot

hold antenna, sxsw, mba, ham radio

The bulk of us that read and blog have regular full time jobs.  Many of us do this for fun or as a side hustle trying to make some passive income.  I have been an avid reader for a few years and have seen some interesting side hustles over at Budgets Are Sexy side hustle series.  This one that I am about to tell you about takes the cake. 

 A New York marketing firm, Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s Labs (BBH), created a stir at the South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival (SXSW) recently.  The festival held in Austin, Texas is geared towards bringing the eclectic music of Austin to the rest of the world.  Now that we are in the technology age where we feel the need to be constantly connected to the internet, so in comes the homeless hotspot.     

 You guessed it, it is a homeless individual walking around with a device that transmits wireless data signals where users can subscribe to and pay for to have access to the internet.  The homeless individuals are compensated for their services of carrying around the devices that transmit the signals.  Take a look at the homeless hotspot website for more information on some of the homeless individuals. 

According to they claim that the “volunteers are guaranteed to make at least $50/day for 6 hour day.”  Not bad considering they were otherwise homeless. BBH labs would like to roll this out on a broader scale if accepted. 

What do you think, is society exploiting the homeless or are we giving them an opportunity they may not have otherwise had?  Anyone go to this festival?  Anyone subscribe to the internet service provided by one of these individuals. 

PHOTO BY: Whiskeygonebad

17 thoughts on “Side Hustle: The Real Mobile Hot Spot

  1. This is an interesting side hustle that I’ve never heard of. I don’t see it as necessarily exploiting the homeless. In fact, I think it helps them; considering that they are homeless. It gives them an opportunity to do something constructive in society for six hours of the day, and possibly learn more about technology. If they get paid for their services to boot, that’s even better.

    1. @ Anthony – I am all for it. I think it is a great idea very ingenious. Its one of those things where you scratch your head and say I wish I thought of that. Plus it may lead to something long term for the homeless and they may eventually have a stable income and not homeless.

  2. As long as the homeless weren’t being taken advantage of, I like the idea. Granted $9 and hour isn’t fantastic, but it may have been worth it for people that were in a hard way. I doubt carrying a transmitter and receiver around on your back helps you learn anything about technology though.

    1. @ CultOfMoney – in this case it doesn’t look like they were taken advantage of. If you remember a while back this was the company that gave the homeless twitter accounts and let them tweet and gave the homeless a voice. It seems they are doing it in the right way so I am all for it.

    2. $9/hr is more than minimum wage, though! While it’s not awesome, it’s also definitely not bad. This is crazy. Never heard anything like it before. I don’t think it’s exploitation, but something doesn’t feel quite right about it. Would they be getting paid more if they weren’t homeless? I don’t think so. From what little I know about the Texan economy that doesn’t sound unfair. Hmmm…

      1. @femmefrugality – I get the vibes that you are getting too that something doesn’t feel right. Did you check out the homelesshotspots site link? They set that site up like one of those missionary sites that we always see on tv asking for a dollar a day, the sad black and white pictures of these men. On the one hand I feel bad now that they have been plastered all over the internet, but the other hand they are making over minimum wage for the days work. I get entangled in an ethical dilemma and whether corporate america should capitalize on the travesty that these individuals are homeless and call it homeless hotspots.

      2. It does seem a little off. Maybe it’s the pity factor they seem to be operating on. I prefer empathy to pity, but that’s a moot point here. What I’d prefer to see is the organization run by a homeless person, that way it’s more of a self liberation movement (liberation against your own circumstances?) instead of a charity, but I think that it’s ultimately good thing. There’s nothing wrong with a good idea that benefits people in dire straights. It even looks like the donations they collect go to the right places…not overhead. I don’t know why I can’t shake this weird feeling in my stomach about it.

        1. @Femmefrugality – now that is an idea. An organization run by a homeless person, or a person that was once homeless that rose and was able to succeed if given the chance. I dont know if some homeless have the means to rise, but this might just be that opportunity they need.

  3. I agree with Anthony. This company is helping homeless people as they are getting paid for the work. I believe that it is much better than the welfare system.

    1. @Shilpan – much better than the welfare system. The unemployment office should look into companies like this to get people back to work. All it takes is one person with an idea.

  4. I think it’s OK as long as the patrons are respectful… I don’t see any reason they wouldn’t be (unless they are, you know, jerks).

    1. @ Well Heeled – you may see me at the next festival near where I live walking around with an antenna. The homeless were guaranteed a minimum of $50 and could make upwards if they were successful at soliciting donations. If you don’t see me around the pf blog arena much longer it is because I found a new calling. 🙂

  5. The homeless women I work with on a daily basis are mentally ill. But for “general population” homeless folks I see nothing wrong with it. As long as they weren’t exploited in any way, there’s nothing wrong with an honest day’s work. In fact, I think many people would be surprised at what some homeless people do for money… at least this is legit and safe.

    Just for reference Public Assistance benefits (welfare) for single homeless adults living in shelter in NYC is $22.50 (I believe bi-monthly for a total of $45.00 per month!)

    1. @ Kari – now you have peaked my curiousity, what are some things that the homeless do for money? I know i see them on the side of the road with their signs. Any other ones you feel interesting that you wouldn’t mind sharing?

      1. Well lots of unsafe things…drug dealing, stealing then reselling on the streets, prostitution (both women and men), paid surveys for medication trials-usually trials you and I would consider way to risky to take part in, digging through bins of trash for bottles to redeem, and trading food stamps for cash among other things. But I don’t want people to get the wrong idea. I think there are many stereotypes about homeless people that I’d rather not perpetuate. There are plenty of homeless people who lost their jobs and are down on their luck. “Normal” people who don’t engage in their behaviors above, who just need a chance to get back on their feet.

  6. That’s a great amount of money for being homeless. I mean I am not making fun here because there is a lot of homelessness and hunger in the world. I think that that compensation is great and if you are wise enough to see the potential you could possibly get back on your feet.

    1. @ Jai – there is def some potential here, everyone deserves to be given a chance. The homeless may have just been down on their luck and this may be that opportunity they needed.

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