THE COME UP: Vaughn

The year was 2007 and I had just moved to Atlanta, Georgia after graduating from DeVry University in Virginia. After three months, I landed a job with MySpace as a software developer. Apparently I taught myself enough about building websites my last year of college. I worked with such an amazing team whom I’m still friends with to this day.

Fast forward to 2009, the economy collapsed and our entire team was laid off

How could this happen? Apparently MySpace was trimming fat and that’s when I was forced to go full time as a freelance software developer. I wasn’t ready, but I was...if that makes sense.

  I was catapulted off a cliff forced to figure out how to create a parachute out of nothing.
  Entrepreneurship was nothing new to me but this was another beast. On my own? No stability? Marketing myself? I was vulnerable and scared. I also convinced myself that I could do it.

I went through so many tests that year since I was barely making rent and plenty of bills went unpaid: 

  • Cell phone service and my Clear hotspot service was extremely weak due to the coverage of trees where I lived. I would place sticky notes all over my apartment to let me know where to stand for the best reception for potential client calls

  • My car insurance lapsed and I would only drive when I absolutely had to

  • There was a period of about two to three weeks when I had no hot water for showers. I would have to boil two pots of water and use one for washing and one for rinsing

  I remember telling myself, “Vaughn, when you get out of this, you’re going to be able to travel and make money at the same time.”


My mom wanted me to leave the entrepreneur life and just get a regular job...I refused.

Everyday I would walk to Starbucks and get on Craigslist to look for jobs and then finally in September of 2009, a company hired my company for a one year contract(check out the original email here) The weight was lifted.

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Over the next three years I would work for various companies doing web development and then eventually moving to mobile app development in 2012. This is also the year I decided to intentionally leave corporate and venture out on my own. This time I was ready.

For the past  six years, I’ve been a freelance web and mobile developer for various clients both in the U.S. and Europe having developed 30+ apps under my company Empty Box Media--sometimes traveling while working.

My journey is still present and continuing to grow. I completed a long time goal in 2016 by self-publishing my first book, “Finding One” which hit #1 on Kindle and #3 on paperback, both available on Amazon.

What I experienced during my journey is not unique but whatever you go through, be fervent and push past challenges. Acknowledge your fears and feelings so learning can occur.

— Vaughn, @mrdabney

More of what I do:
Blog: mrdabney.com
Book: findingonethebook.com
findingonethejourney.com
Software Company: emptyboxmedia.com