My story begins in a familiar place: I was a college graduate with student loan debt who landed a low paying, part time job and barely getting by. On top of that, add a newborn baby, a cross country move and a wedding on the horizon, and it was literally the most pressure I have ever experienced in my life.
The Struggle and the Passion
Just like millions of other people, I felt like I had nowhere to turn; I was unable to land a single interview despite my wide range of abilities. I racked my brain for months while I attempted to land a full-time paying position, but nothing panned out. I was a young male with a family to support, but I was only able to offer them huge dreams and potential.
I’d indulged in a few different passions that consumed large amounts of my time during and after college. I have always been a creative person; I took all of the art classes in school, I loved making funny home videos with friends, and I even considered a career in graphic design. However, the music bug bit me and totally consumed my life. In college, I would go to class thinking about music and when class was done, I would skip the library and head home to start working on music until I fell asleep then wake up the next day and do it again. I even planned my class schedule so that I could have two days off during the week to work on music. Needless to say, my grades started falling short.
Post college I ended up moving from my small hometown of Flowery Branch, GA to Los Angeles, CA. My time in LA was a struggle, but I learned a lot and made great strides with my music, including a few appearances on national television, performances at all the hot spots in LA, magazine coverage and other exciting accolades. In order to pay rent, I held various jobs from working for a start up, to tutoring kids, and even working at a call center. I knew I didn’t want to work any of those jobs for the rest of my life but from them, I learned a tremendous amount about what I wanted to do and, maybe more importantly, what I didn’t want to do.
My passion for working with youth has always been primary in my job choices. From my senior year of high school until now, I have worked with youth doing everything from teaching enrichment classes to a summer camp counselor to serving as a tutor. Over the years I have seen some kids grow up into awesome young adults and it has been extremely rewarding to be a part of their lives.
The Light Bulb
Fast forward a few years and I still didn’t have a real job, had barely any money, and no real plan to support my family in the long term. One day I sat down, and I thought about everything I wanted to do with my life. While still in Los Angeles, I came up with a plan to launch a program to teach music production to teens. While I was pacing around thinking about it, suddenly it felt like I was in a dark stadium and someone turned on the gigantic stadium lights. My entire business plan and what I wanted to accomplish just started to flow, so I sat down and began typing. The next thing I knew, I had a large chunk of a business plan, a name, a logo and a website. Project Generation D was born!
Over the next couple of months, I started to spread the word about what I wanted to do with Project Generation D, and people in my network were responsive to the idea. I met my Educational Coordinator, Sean Simpson, at a producer beat battle in Athens, GA. His producer name was “The Teacher” and when he heard about the program, we discussed implementing it in his school district, and he was generous enough to set up a meeting with the Assistant Superintendent. I remember driving out to the meeting, preparing for my first time ever pitching the program to a potential client but for some reason I wasn’t nervous. This program is the culmination of everything I have been through, experienced and accomplished. It was me, and it showed – I secured Project Generation D’s first contract. The following day, I quit the job I had at the time, and I never looked back.
The Success and 5 Year Plan
Since I started the program, we have worked with over 400 students in the Atlanta and North Georgia area. We are in three different school districts as part of their after school programs as well as in various Boys & Girls Clubs and other after school programs in the area. We also just successfully completed an Indiegogo campaign to aid in the process of creating a non-profit arm of the business, so at-risk teens from rough neighborhoods can attend the program for free at our own Project Generation D center. We aim to have a presence in every major market in the United States in the next 5-7 years.
The Reflection and Words of Wisdom
My experiences have taught me to look around my life for inspiration. I took two of my passions, mashed them up and created a thriving business out of them. I often see people talking about a “scheme” they have to start a business and get rich from, but more often than not, these “schemes” lack passion and run out of gas. If you are passionate about what you do, believe in it and stay positive at all times because things will, at times, get rough. Just like anyone else on the planet, and all those who have done it before you, you too have a great chance of building a business that will thrive and grow, and you will have an amazing time doing it!
I hope my story helps all entrepreneurs, both young and old, start their business or keep grinding away with the ones they have already started toward something great!
For more information on Project Generation D, and to see our students in action, please visit: ProjectGenerationD.com and follow me on Twitter at @ProjectGenD . By Reggie Perry Jr, Founder of Project Generation D.
Category: Startup Advice