Class Idea: “Make $1000”

The other day, I shared an idea for an “unsexy industry summer camp.” Today, I wanted to document another simple idea that I have been thinking about for years. 

First and foremost, let me start with the problem that I care about here. I’ll be blunt, but please do not take it as ignorant. I understand that everyone is playing a different game — my statement is purposefully general: 

Too many people enter the corporate workforce without ever having produced legitimate and real value for the world.


What I mean by that, very specifically, is that, if you look at the economy today, you see all of these “business analysts” and “product managers” and “software architects” who have never…and this is meant to be accurate not critical…ever felt true project success – real purpose. “Felt success,” per this definition, encapsulates the idea of true “product market fit.

Thinking about product market fit can be hard because we generally think of it in terms of massive markets and massive scales. Those are valid definitions – for high growth companies – but let’s make it as dead simple as possible. 

The easiest, and simplest means of achieving a type of product fit is to sell one item to one person. 

Simple enough?

Sell one thing to one person. Find another person. Find the intersection of those two people. And iterate.

When I talk about “person” – that could also be a company or group of people or whatever.  The point being…I am talking about starting small. 

This is not rocket science, nor a prescriptive recipe that guarantees any type of success. Rather, I view this concept as a means of learning how to sell. Learning how to build things people think are value. Learning how to truly learn. 

We do plenty of case studies in college. We do plenty of customer interviews and agile planning sessions in the workplace. We talk to professionals. We network. We ace exams. We read. We write specs and have planning sessions. 

Let’s do something crazy! Call me crazy! 

Let’s make $1000. Whatever it takes, let’s truly make $1000.

And that is my idea: Schools should offer a course called “Make $1000,” where the single goal of the class is to learn how to make $1000 in a month.

Let’s sell tomatoes…or t-shirts…or do car washes.

We do not need to trick people! We do not need a massive corporation or the lean startup model behind us. We do not need to dominate the market or become a monopoly. We do not need anything…no excuses. 

Our single goal for this course is to make $1000 in a month. 

We can debate the logistics of the course later (how long people have, what the parameters and restrictions are, teams, etc.). 

The outcome for this course is binary – you either pass the $1000 threshold and get an A or you fail. 

This course is not designed to build salespeople – it is designed to build grit. It is not designed to create “budding entrepreneurs” – it is designed to build learners. We are not creating an entrepreneurship course, no. This is a doer course. Just do things. 

You will likely not learn this in business school or in a fancy masters program. There is no book that can teach you how to do this type of work.

But the opportunity is out there! 

Let’s water plants. Let’s fix houses. Let’s build an e-commerce site. 

Let’s build web-apps. Let’s wash dishes. Literally whatever it takes. 

It will be ugly. My first job, I wrote about a few years back, was the embodiment of “ugly”: 

I was stationed at the front of the nursery in the 115 degree heat. I watered plants from 730 am until 12 noon. I carried a big hose and wore a sombrero-like hat. 


Over the years…I have sold tomatoes (and tons of other plants and produce), t-shirts, card games, internet applications, etc.

I am not the role model here (obviously), I have tons to learn. But I will tell you is that I think the world needs more grit. It needs more doing. It needs more sleeve rollers and door busters. 

In hindsight, though, these types of ugly experiences made me the person I am today and I am forever grateful for that. Will never forget these types of experiences.

Bonus! You do not need a class to tell you to do this. You do not need YCombinator or an investor or anyone. I am giving you permission to start the challenge! Make $1000 🙂 Lmk how it goes!!

Also published on Medium.