Most people throw away old cell phones without a second thought. Steven Ortiz is not like most teenagers. This 17-year-old Californian went on Craigslist to turn a used cell phone a friend gave him into a Porsche convertible. Harvard Business School, watch out for this guy.
Ortiz’s story brings to mind the similar accomplishment of Kyle MacDonald, a Canadian who started “Craigslist swapping” with a red paperclip in 2005 and eventually ended up with a two-story farmhouse. Through his blog and the kindness of strangers, MacDonald made 14 swaps over the classifieds website, upgrading one item to a more valuable one until he ended up with a house a year later.
Craigslist isn’t so different from a newspaper’s classified section: People list items they no longer want for whatever reason. But sometimes instead of selling these items for paltry amounts of cash, online users barter with each other.
Unlike MacDonald and his red paperclip website, however, Ortiz didn’t publicize his efforts—he did it quietly on his own. It took him one year longer than MacDonald, but the Glendale, CA, youth managed to turn an outdated phone into a 2000 Porsche Boxster S.