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.
Sean Echevarria is up.
Who are you and what do you do? My name is Sean Echevarria and I'm a Senior Product Manager for Walmart's Digital Acceleration team. I help build out HR tech solutions for our 2.3 million associates. I graduated from NC State back in 2013 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and through the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program (EEP), I found that I truly loved building products both physical and digital. I'm now working on my latest hustle is called Rees (http://hellorees.com) where we're looking to make career coaching simple and affordable for underrepresented people.
What did it take / how did you get started? This has been months in the making. I've been helping navigate their careers since I graduated as it was not easy to find my path and so any knowledge I could share I did. I started to become more known for this in my circle of friends and beyond to the point where people were coming to me for advice on a daily basis. I didn't realize how to productize this until my wife was looking for a job and I was helping her negotiate all the offers that were coming in. I helped a few other people do the same around the same time period and realized that maybe this should just be an A.I. driven bot. I tested this concept for a few months, but it seemed that what people were looking for was a coach that was more holistic in terms of addressing their needs. So not only negotiating offers but also sharing managerial tips, resume reviews, how to have tough conversations and so much more. So we started to build out a dashboard that could help with all this and thus Rees was born.
What does the future look like for you and your hustle? We officially launched a few weeks ago and our LinkedIn post garnered some great traction with over 15,000 views in a few days. It seems like people really resonated with what we're offering as the coaching industry is currently filled with amazing coaches that charge upwards of $100/hr and that just isn't accessible for most. We want to build this platform the right way which means talking with our users and iterating as quickly as possible. We're still in our alpha stage, but will soon be opening it up for our early access users. Because we've struck a chord with the community we've already had some VC interest which is amazing to see, you can tell that they care about the problem as much as we do. We'll be looking to raise our seed fund later this year, but for now, we're trying to stay focused on improving the product.
What drives / motivates you?
In our pitch deck, we highlight that the coaching industry inherently favors the privileged due to the fact that typically if an individual is able to afford the cost to get a coach then it's because they have enough disposable income and for most underrepresented people especially early on in their career that is not the case. The coaching industry also favors privilege as from a company level it's typically only offered to executives and high potential employees, and as you can see from all the stats coming out of the income inequality movement, only a small percentage of diversity exists in those leadership positions that might get coaching provided to them. This inequality is what drives me. It's not the world I want to see for my little sister when she graduates from college and gets ready to enter the workforce. And I'm hoping that Rees will help equalize the playing field a bit more by offering the advice, recommendations, and confidence that coaches are known for providing.
What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?
Never be afraid to ask for help. I've shared this idea as it evolved hundreds of times, and I wouldn't be where I am without the input of some incredibly thoughtful and smart people. Sometimes I didn't even know those people that well, it's amazing what a cold email will do.
What has been the hardest part of the hustle?
Talking to users is evidently important, but scheduling time with those users when you both have day jobs is tough. This typically means very early mornings or very late evenings. Either way, the long days can be draining, but worth it when you see a feature or design change be a success.
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?
The entire How I Built This podcast series, they have some incredible stories that will give you perspective into your own struggles. I also highly recommend reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knight mainly because I can't imagine a world without Nike in it, and when you look back to how it was created you would be shocked to know that it was on the brink of failing so many times and wasn't formed that long ago, so who's to say what you're building now won't have similar or more success!
Side or full-time hustle?
Side hustle for now.
List the founders
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?
30 hours or so right now, but hoping to get back some semblance of work-life balance soon.
# of Employees?
When did you start?
Officially launched June 2020
How much did it cost to launch?
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?
Self-funded still, but will be raising a seed round later this year
None yet as we're offering all alpha and beta users a free year subscription
Any call to action?
Request an invite at http://hellorees.com and share with friends who you think need a career coach.