What’s your hustle?

This is a story about three local organizations that partnered on a day-long entrepreneurship workshop. It includes the story, pictures, and workshop structure.

“Hustle is survival. Hustle is dreams.”

Trevow dreams of having his own restaurant. A real commercial kitchen — with a tight-knit crew cooking the recipes that he grew up with.

But, Trevor doesn’t have that yet. He’s 21 — and doesn’t really have enough to even go to a restaurant sometimes. Right now, he needs bus passes to get to work and back, a few bucks for laundry to make sure his clothes smell alright, and a shelter — especially as it gets closer to winter.

A while back though, Trevow started making barbecue wings on buddies’ back porches. He’d sell them to neighbors, passersby. Even though he’s pretty shy, he’d pushed himself to go to local bars and clubs to taste-test his food. He got so good, that he was able to start using a commercial kitchen for free — to expand the amount and variety of food he can make.

Trevor works hard. Trevor hustles.

The skills he uses to hustle to survive every day — to fill his stomach and to stay warm— he uses to hustle to dream every day — to build a restaurant with the most delicious wings in New Haven.

What’s your hustle?

This past weekend three New Haven organizations partnered to run a day-long entrepreneurship workshop.

  • Collab — a small business, non-profit, and startup incubator for New Haven entrepreneurs.
  • Youth Continuum—an agency serving homeless and at-risk youth.
  • CitySeed—an organizations dedicated to food equity through Farmer’s Markets, nutrition/cooking education, and more.

We had three goals:

  • Encourage Youth Continuum youth to use their food stamps at CitySeed Farmer’s Markets (worth double their value at the markets).
  • Expand the audience that CitySeed Farmer’s Market reaches to include homeless and at-risk youth.
  • To show youth how the skills they use for their day-to-day hustle — for money, shelter, and survival — are the same skills used for entrepreneurship.

It was a pilot workshop, that included three youth receiving Youth Continuum services.

In this post, we are going to walk-through the format of the workshop. We built it to be changed, refined, and challenged.

It’s called Hustle.

All youths’ names and pictures have been included with their permission.


A day-long entrepreneurship program in partnership with Youth Continuum, CitySeed, and Collab.


The day began with a discussion about the skills participating youth use everyday for their hustles. We showed how the skills they listed are identical to lists of traits considered important for successful entrepreneurs.

We did a mini-hustle with three youth — Trevor, DT, and Chris. Each youth developed their own food product — with name, audience, and brand — and pitched it to each other. One product, created by DT, was chosen — “The Global Omelette” — for the entire team to rally behind for the rest of the day. “The Global Omelette” was two different varieties of omelette that both represented a breakfast food and mindset for inclusion.

We headed to the CitySeed Farmer’s Market to use food stamps to purchase items to make their product. After making the product in CitySeed’s commercial kitchen, youth pitched their idea and product to a panel of community members at the end of the day.


  • 9–10am — Breakfast & Icebreaker
  • 10–11am — Discussion: What’s your hustle? What are we doing today?
  • 11am–12pm — IDEA: Come up with an idea for a product.
  • 12–12:30pm — TEAM: Form teams around that product.
  • 12:30–3:30pm — BUILD: Make the product, including the brand.
  • 3:30pm — PITCH : Pitch product to panelists.


9–10am — Breakfast & Icebreaker

Ate breakfast (bagels and coffee).

Played This-or-that game. Everyone stood in the middle of the room and shifted to one side or the other based on their response to a this-or-that question.

  • Gummy bears or gummy worms?
  • Valentine’s Day or Halloween?
  • Roller coaster or haunted house?
  • Brains or brawn?
  • Chicken fingers or grilled cheese?
  • Intelligent or funny?
  • Honesty or other’s feelings?
  • Working alone or working in a team?

10–11am — Discussion: What’s your Hustle?

Everyone went around the room and answered:

  • What’s your hustle?

And then:

  • What advice would you give someone else who wants to start a hustle?

And then (we wrote these words on the board):

  • What makes you successful at your hustle?

This question led to a back-and-forth conversation between two participating youth about the role of competition in hustle.

DT: Hustle is all about competition. There can only be one number one, one best. McDonalds is always competing with Wendy’s. Quarterbacks are always competing with quarterbacks.
Trevor: Can we agree to disagree?
DT: Yes.
Trevor: Do you think being competitive makes you think too much about what the other guy is doing, and not enough about what you are doing?
DT: But I have to think about what the other guy is doing. Because he is thinking about what I’m doing. It motivates me. I get up at 5am for practice because three other guys are doing it. I get dressed the fastest out of the locker room because my coach is watching. I jump the highest because recruiters are watching.
Trevor: But there’s not always going to be “the other guy”. Don’t you think you’d work harder and stronger, if you were just working hard for yourself, and no one else?

After listing out these words, we flipped over the board and showed a sheet with traits compiled by Forbes that are important for entrepreneurs.

  • Which ones overlap?

They all overlapped. Except original — which we all ended up disagreeing is an important trait for an entrepreneur.

We made the lesson here simple and clear:

The traits you have used to hustle, to survive, to make a living — are the SAME as the ones the most successful entrepreneurs in the entire world have.
AND these traits are not only valuable for entrepreneurship or potentially starting their own business — but also getting hired, having a job, being a manager, and more.

We then broke down the hustle for the day:

Both starting a hustle and starting a business can be broken down into stages.
Today, we’re going to do a fun, simple crash-course workshop to come up with a product, make the product, and test the product — all in one day, using something we all love: food.

11am–12pm — Idea

Each youth received an inventory list of food available at the Farmer’s Market and Youth Continuum and researched recipes for their product.

We also explained how payment would work at the Farmer’s Market — how Farmer’s Markets exchange food stamps for tokens worth double their value.

Criteria for products:

  • All items have to have ingredients within the inventory list.
  • All items have to be able to made in under 2 hours

They each received a sheet where they have to answer:

  • Name of Product
  • Reason for Product
  • Audience of Product
  • Brand of Product (to draw!)

Many youth served by Youth Continuum have a difficult time writing. Because of this we mentioned that, as they were working through their sheets, if it would be helpful to have someone to talk it through with and/or take some notes as their think out loud, then grab one of us.

12–1pm — TEAM

Each youth got two minutes to pitch their idea to the rest of the team.

Each youth grades each other on a scale of 1–5 for each section of the sheet.

One product with the highest score is selected to be the product the rest of team rallies behind.

“The Global Omelette” — two different varieties of omelette that both represented a breakfast food and mindset for inclusion — won the pitch.

1–3:30pm — BUILD

We walked over to the CitySeed Farmer’s Market in Wooster Square Park with our list of ingredients. We swapped our food stamps for tokens and purchased items.

While eating pizza, Amelia, Executive Director of CitySeed gave an overview of CitySeed’s programs and kitchen to the crew. In addition, they had a conversation about the Farmer’s Market — how it felt to be there and what could make it more inclusive.

Over the course of the next two hours, the Global Omelette team made their product, designed their logo, and practiced their pitch.

3:30pm — PITCH

At 3:30pm, three panelists representing different community members (the local alder, a local entrepreneur, and local resident), came to evaluate the team’s product.

Each panelist asked questions, gave feedback, and provided pieces of advice.

4pm — Debrief

We ended the workshop walking back to Youth Continuum — asking questions like:

Do you think you will approach your own hustle any different way?

Is there any part of this day that you would want to replicate?

How did this workshop change the way you think about your goals?

What would you change about today?

Hustle is a format that can be and ought to be replicable. We’d love to hear your experiences with entrepreneurship workshops.