The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team.
Dan Gonzalez is up.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Dan Gonzalez, and I am one of the co-founders of District C (districtc.co). Our goal is to prepare the next generation of talent.
What did it take / how did you get started?
We use a basketball metaphor to help explain the problem we're trying to solve. In the 1983-1984 season, NBA teams averaged just over 2 3-point shot attempts per game. This past season, they averaged 32 3-point attempts per game. The game has changed. Youth players across the world are preparing for a new style of play dominated by the 3-point shot. Because if you aspire to a career as a competitive basketball player, you need to know how to play the 3-point game.
Work is changing, too. Employers are increasingly looking for a different kind of talent. They need people who know how to leverage the diverse strengths and perspectives of others. People who know how to tackle complex, novel problems. This is the 3-point player of the modern economy.
Yet just 11% of business leaders strongly agree that recent college graduates are prepared for today’s work (Gallup, 2018). That’s a problem. We can’t keep preparing 2-point players for a 3-point economy. In short, District C prepares 3-point players. We teach high school students how to work in diverse teams to solve complex problems.
What does the future look like for you and your hustle?
We are focused on expanding our reach and impact. So far we've reached close to 500 students from 50 different high schools in the Triangle. We've trained 40 educators to take our learning model back to their schools. We'll continue growing here in the Triangle, and in 2020 we will be working to replicate our model in a new region outside of the Triangle. What drives / motivates you?
I am motivated by the idea of building something great that will sustain itself, create inspiring jobs, and impact the lives of young people long past my own involvement. We have lots of work to get to this point, but I think that's the ultimate measure of success... creating something that's sturdy enough to last indefinitely.
What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?
I would say focus on that next micro step that's right in front of you. Put your head down, and do that next small thing to the best of your ability. It's easy to get distracted by all the mess and uncertainty... sometimes it can be disorienting. But enough well-executed micro steps will eventually add up to some big achievements.
What has been the hardest part of the hustle?
To be a sustainable nonprofit, we can't rely on grants and donations forever. So we've worked hard to build earned revenue streams through activities that support and promote our mission. This took some figuring out.
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?
I really like the book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain. And I just read "Chasing the Bright Side" by Jess Ekstrom. The message I took away from Jess's book: accept that you are underprepared, and then believe that you will figure it out. Words to live by for anyone trying to do hard things, like start a business.
Side or full-time hustle? Full-time.
List the founders Anne Jones, Dan Gonzalez
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle? About 60
# of Employees? 3 full-time
When did you start? February 2017
How much did it cost to launch? $6k of our own money plus a $25k startup grant got us through the proof of concept phase.
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised? Grants to start, and now we are gradually shifting to earned revenue as our primary source.