Tinkering with OCE

🚀 3 Ways to start your project without money

Published about 2 months ago • 3 min read

So you want to start the project you’ve been thinking about.

Something to build skills, to add to your portfolio and maybe even bringing in revenue is a dream for many teens.

But the reality of starting anything is that it’s straight-up hard work.

And it may seem out of reach because many ideas require large upfront capital. If you don’t have the funds or investors to back you, you’re out of luck.

Or so the conventional wisdom goes.

But did you know you don’t need to put down your own money?

You just need to know how to leverage other people’s through financial literacy.

It’s an interesting approach that takes time, research, and a some negotiation skills. But it happens all the time. Here’s what you need to know to get started.


If you are new, welcome to OCE’s weekly newsletter curated for the ambitious youth…here are some articles you missed from previous weeks:


USE THIS: Land your dream (summer) opportunity

Read More →


Best tools for building your passion project

Read More


Build your tribe find your vibe

Read More

#1 Grants:

Most people have heard of youth initiative grants – a financial award given to support youth led projects, but they’re not aware of where to apply for it.

So here are 3 major sources:

  • Government Programs: Many governments offer grants or funding opportunities for youth-led initiatives in various sectors such as agriculture, education, environment, and social welfare. Example: Youth Take Charge Program (Canada)
  • Foundations and Philanthropic Organizations: Foundations and philanthropic organizations often provide grants to support grassroots initiatives, particularly those addressing pressing social or environmental issues. Example: Laidlaw Foundation
  • Local Community Resources: Engaging with local community organizations, businesses, and leaders can uncover funding opportunities or in-kind support for youth-led initiatives. Example: Oregon Youth Community Investment Fund

As you can see, your project must meet certain criteria to qualify for a grant, specifically aligning with the goals and priorities of the grant-making entity. Furthermore, grant applications usually require detailed proposals outlining the project's objectives, methodology, budget, timeline, and expected outcomes.

So if your project doesn’t check those boxes, or you don’t want to go through the complexities of applying for multiple grants, look for other options below.

#2 Partnership:

You don’t have money, asset, resources.

But other people do.

Simple enough solution: Bring in partners.

By convincing others of the opportunity, you get to split the risk and the reward with them. This is by far my favorite way of accessing funding.

Let’s say a business has some excess assets that you need sitting on the shelf (ie. Event space, furniture, equipment - you name it), what if you reached out to the owner and repurposed their non-productive asset for your project? You propose a deal to let you use their asset, they get a % of your revenue or new clients you bring into their business.

All of sudden you’ve carved out a path for the owner to monetize their asset and cut yourself into a new project/business line.

Here’s how I do it for my property management biz:

  • First reach out to all the communities that have very low occupancy – tons of empty units.
  • Tell them I want to help them recoup some of their costs.
  • Why don’t they do a deal where I give the owner 50% of all the revenue from the clients I generate, they allow me to use the units for my biz.
  • I can even structure this as a fixed payout over a multi-year period based on future revenue, so they have a consistent income.
  • Set up security, maintenance system and keep owner in the loop with new clients that come into the community.

What I just did is acquire revenue generating assets without putting out upfront cash and offer a distraught owner a win.

Oh yeah, this structure can be applied to a ton of different projects (not limited to property management). Check out how OCE alumni Lucas Gil started his investing biz with $0 via partnership.

#3 Credit:

Let’s say you have zero money to utilize, no grants to qualify for, no skills to negotiate for it. What do you have left? Access to money through debt.

This is where your credit score comes into play.

A credit score is like a report card for how responsible someone is with borrowing money and paying it back. It's based on things like whether they pay bills on time, how much debt they have, and how long they've had credit accounts.

If I could plead of you one thing, it’d be to learn about building up your credit and intelligent debt use as early as you can.

With an excellent credit score, you not only gain access to funding but also a better rate for insurance and lending terms.

The OCE cohort learned all about building up credit profile, lending terms and the first step to investing - AKA origination last summer through our project with InvestED.

Credit = Powerful Funding Tool.

You don’t need a lot of money to start your project. In fact, you might not need any money at all. What you need is to understand finance.

Like what you read? Share with friends!

Add me as a contact to ensure you receive the latest newsletter in your inbox!

PS. Before you build, first learn from those who walk the walk.

We run a summer cohort for ambitious youth (high school and undergrads) to work directly with world-class founders while learning from Silicon Valley leaders. Check out our info session recording.

You can also explore purposeful opportunities through our Impact Internship Opportunities Database.

Get Curious.


113 Cherry St #92768, Seattle, WA 98104-2205
Unsubscribe · Preferences

Tinkering with OCE

Subscribe to OCE's weekly newsletter on tech, business and higher education...curated for the ambitious youth.

Read more from Tinkering with OCE

Higher Education, like it or hate it, you are going to need one and it’s not cheap. That’s because today, I’m talking student loans. You might have taken out one, or are planning to take out one but do you know how it actually works? And how it can also be an incredibly lucrative way of generating profit and make a positive impact? Ironically, the school doesn't teach you this but we'll give you a run-down of it today. But FIRST If you are new, welcome to OCE’s weekly newsletter curated for...

6 days ago • 3 min read

It’s always the things you overlook We’ve all been fooled by it at least once…Shiny Object Syndrome. Every now and then, we are tempted by the glamorous stuff around us such as jobs and businesses. We choose our careers and biz to build based on how “glamorous” they look on IG. I should know…I made that mistake, too. My first idea of a possible business was in the fancy world of fashion and ecommerce – hence my decision to join Walmart Ecommerce in their fashion division after graduation....

13 days ago • 4 min read

Hey Changemakers, Today marks 4 years since the wrap up of our inaugural OCE cohort. And boy oh boy has there been a lot of learning these last 4 years for me. Starting OCE, property management biz, and on a mission to bridging cultures. It has me thinking often about leadership… So today, allow me to share my reflection on the leadership lessons I most wish I could pass on to the 17-year-old Lena. And PS: 2024 cohort application is due end of this month, apply here ASAP so you don't miss...

20 days ago • 3 min read
Share this post