2024-05-01-EB-8: Hacker Monk

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🪷 EB-8: Hacker Monk


Evan Stites-Clayton (LinkedIn), founder of HF0, a San Francisco-based residency program and fund that supports early-stage startups, with a particular focus on AI and repeat founders. He also has a background in building successful companies, having co-founded Teespring, a custom apparel platform that achieved significant growth and revenue.


  • HF0 Residency: The interview primarily focuses on HF0, a 12-week residency program that provides a "monastery-like environment" for hackers and founders to focus on building their startups.

  • AI Focus: Many of the companies supported by HF0 incorporate AI in some capacity, with a particular interest in areas like voice-based AI, generative technologies, and AI for creative applications.

  • Founder Selection: The program is highly selective, with thousands of applicants vying for a limited number of spots. Evan emphasizes the importance of traction, past accomplishments, and a strong online presence when evaluating potential teams.

  • AI Tools and Building Companies: Evan reflects on how the availability of AI tools today would have significantly impacted his experience building Teespring, highlighting the potential for increased efficiency and speed of development.

  • The Future of AI: The conversation explores the evolving landscape of AI applications, including AI infrastructure, personalized user experiences, and the challenges of AI hallucination and bias.

  • Lucid Dreaming: Evan also discusses his personal interest in lucid dreaming, its potential benefits, and the challenges of making it more accessible to a wider audience.


April 25th, 2024


  • Describing the house, "The wallpaper's in there crazy."

  • On the ideal HF0 founder: "The best place for people to come take the biggest swing of their life before they have kids."

  • On founder selection: "Who are the smartest founders? What are the most dynamic founders working on right now? And how can we work with them?"

  • On why it’s the hacker monastery: "It's not so much that there are meditation practices, but it's that if you were to go to a monastery, what you would experience is that an entire system has been set up for you to be able to drop into a state of extreme focus."

  • On the primitive tech stack of early Teespring. "We were, we were considering using flash."

  • If Teespring were founded today, "Oh man, do I wish that I would have had the access to the tools that exist today."

  • On the accelerated nature of development today, "It's like, how much can you just build? How far ahead of the competition can you sprint in this world where a lot of things have been unblocked?"

  • On AI avatars supplanting human interaction: "Can it make me want to interact with it as much? I think there's a possibility that as AI avatar technology continues to improve, it may get to the point where I don't prefer to interact with an app. I prefer to talk to a person that isn't a real person that I know and that I trust and that I have more of that feeling with."

  • Questioning the hype around AI infrastructure: "I've started to feel like, in some cases, it's actually maybe a bit premature."

  • On how to tell you’re in a lucid dream: "So I'm gonna do a reality check. And the reality check that I always love to do that I think most of the people who I teach lucid dreaming to, this is how they have their first lucid moment is breathing in through your nose and then kind of feeling like a sensation of the air flowing into your lungs. And then you do the same thing, but pinching your nose."

  • On achieving lucid dreams with ease: "If you're willing to take this supplement, galantamine, you could lucid dream tomorrow morning"

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  • Empowering Founders: Evan's work with HF0 is driven by a desire to empower founders and help them achieve their full potential by providing them with the resources, environment, and support needed to build successful companies.

  • Advancing AI: He is passionate about the potential of AI to revolutionize various aspects of our lives and believes in supporting founders who are pushing the boundaries of what's possible with this technology.


  • Curated Environment: HF0 creates a structured and supportive environment that enables founders to focus on their work and enter a state of flow.

  • Mentorship and Community: The program offers mentorship, guidance, and a strong community of like-minded individuals.

  • Funding: HF0 provides funding to help startups get off the ground and achieve their goals.

What are the limitations and what's next:

  • AI Tool Limitations: Evan acknowledges the current limitations of AI tools, particularly in areas like reliability, bias, and the need for human oversight.

  • Evolution of AI Applications: The future of AI applications is still unfolding, and it will be interesting to see how areas like AI infrastructure and personalized user experiences evolve.

Why It Matters:

  • Supporting Innovation: HF0 plays a crucial role in supporting and fostering innovation in the tech industry, particularly in the rapidly evolving field of AI.

  • Impact on Society: The companies supported by HF0 have the potential to make a significant impact on society by developing new technologies and solutions that address important challenges.

Additional Notes:

  • Personal Experiences: Evan shares personal anecdotes about his experiences with building companies and lucid dreaming, adding a human touch to the conversation.

  • Humorous Observations: The interview includes lighthearted moments and humorous observations about the quirks of AI and the tech industry.


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