Sometimes, the biggest challenge can become the greatest success. Middle school teacher Ms. Robbie Teague experienced this when Ryan came to her class as a refugee of Hurricane Katrina who was on the verge of dropping out of school.
“One day I noticed he was writing and I snatched up the paper.” Robbie discovered that Ryan had a talent for writing poetry, and she took him aside and asked if he would like to use his talents to become an entrepreneur. Ryan had been writing poetry and taking part in rap battles back in New Orleans. “I become popular in my community because of my music,” he says. But that community would soon cease to exist.
When Hurricane Katrina hit his home, Ryan and his family was evacuated to Texas, where they spent two years living in temporary housing before finally finding a permanent residence. That shock of instability led to Ryan falling behind in his classes and losing focus on his music.
“I turned 180 degrees that day by being in the NFTE program,” says Ryan of the moment Robbie and NFTE helped convert his talent into a business idea, and he has never looked back. Since then Ryan’s schoolwork has vastly improved and he placed first in the NFTE Greater Dallas citywide business plan competition, winning investment capital for his business.
Ryan’s business, Boot Strap Muzik, is a hyper hip hop indie record label with a New Orleans flavor that features online distribution of recording artists’ music. “I will work with young artists and show them how to find their beat,” says the young entrepreneur.
Ryan has inspired several of his fellow classmates as well. Robbie says many of Ryan’s peers have been behaving better and coming to her NFTE class eager to showcase their own talents through starting a business.
“NFTE has helped Ryan beyond just the skills needed to write a business plan. It has helped him develop his artistic skills in music and acting; his confidence in himself has grown.”