– New Story –
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Video Length: 31 min
A Non-Profit Working to Pioneer Solutions to Build Thriving Communities Around the World.
Brett Hagler, CEO & Co-Founder, New Story
Brett Hagler, CEO and a Co-Founder of New Story – a nonprofit that pioneers solutions to build thriving communities around the world. Brett is a cancer survivor, author, speaker, Y Combinator alum, and 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 Entrepreneur. In 2017, New Story was named by Fast Company as one of the “Most Innovative Companies In The World,” and Brett was named one of the Top 100 Most
Intriguing Entrepreneurs by Goldman Sachs in 2018.
All right, good to go. Well, it's a pleasure to be here. I live in San Francisco. And my first time in Provo, I've enjoyed my day to day and the town and the mountains. It's been beautiful and grateful to be here. I'm going to spend probably like 30 minutes telling our story, our vision, how we think about innovation. And then we'll have some time for q&a after that. And then we'll send everybody out to, I guess, happy hour and dinner. So to get things started, we have a four minute video that does a really good job of telling our story, telling our DNA, and starting to show you visually, what we do as an organization, why we prioritize innovation as a nonprofit. So I'm going to play that video. And then from there, I'm going to walk you through really three things. One, how this whole thing got started, when I started that at age 24, what we've accomplished, and then the vision for after that, and hopefully along the way, you're inspired a bit, maybe spark some creative ideas. And maybe you could think about how you could bring more generosity into into your businesses. So here's a video of what we do.
Here a crazy story. Four years ago, I went on my first trip to Haiti. Nothing too crazy about that, right? Well, yeah, because I wasn't okay with what I saw.
Kids living and fallen apart homes for years on end, homes, we wouldn't even call homes at all tense, leftover, forgotten, for nearly a decade, hundreds, thousands of people just barely surviving day to day. The problems so big, it just seemed crazy to try and solve it. But something had to be done.
So at age 24, I joined forces with three passionate 20 somethings. And we found that a nonprofit that would do things differently.
Brett, I'm Allie, and we're the founding
team of news story. We created the transparency first giving platform because we believe donors deserve to know exactly what their investment is doing. At that time, the tools we needed didn't exist. So we began innovating from scratch. It's a 39 years of hard work. We applied for Y Combinator. That's the world's top startup accelerator, knowing that only 2% of applicants make it in. We knew we were crazy. Then this call happened.
new story became one of the first nonprofit it to be accepted into Y Combinator. And we moved to San Francisco. When our first six months of starting news story, we funded only 16 homes. Not a bad start, but nothing crazy. Then Y Combinator gave us the challenge of doing 100 homes in 100 days. Now that was crazy. But against all odds, we did 113 homes that summer and built our first community, then things just kept getting crazier.
And our first four years, we've expanded from Haiti to El Salvador, Bolivia, Mexico, building 16, transformative communities, we open the NASDAQ. It's an honor to be here at the startup charity, we've gained partnerships, we would have never imagined fastcompany named as one of the most innovative companies in the world, we've raised more than $20 million. Our team has doubled and tripled in size, and together. Most importantly, why we do this work. We've impacted over 10,000 people.
In 2017, we started working on a project, a crazy, secret project, building the world's first 3d home printer designed to work where housing is needed most. When we launched it at South by Southwest, we knew it was cool. We were blown away when it got over a billion impressions across the world. Best of all, the world's first 3d printed community will be completed in early 2019. As we look into the future, we know we can't do this alone. So we're sharing everything we've learned from our design processes to our technology platform in other innovations with other housing organizations and governments. So that together, we can end survival mode with 1 billion people.
seems crazy, right?
We agree. It is crazy. Crazy. Until it's not.
So So yeah, that that was a just a four minute story of what we've kind of done to date, from starting with really just an idea, being unqualified, no experience having no money at age 24. But a vision to really do things differently and attack the problem differently. And that's what I'm going to show you. And that's why we've been able to have the type of success that we've had, as as we have as a very early stage startup. So our core mission is we say, pioneer solutions to end global homelessness, and you'll see why we believe and pioneering solutions, instead of just trying to solve problems the same way they've been solved really the last 50 to 100 years. So the little backstory just just on me personally, just so some of y'all could understand how how did this start? And, and like why, why was I was like a guidance to start this. And so a little background on just me growing up. I grew up in South Florida, and just was obsessed with sports and and the last thing in the world I thought I do was start a charity, I actually had a pretty self consuming lifestyle, my in high school and in college, and then a little bit after college. And I really was just out pursuing what I call the three G's. And it's not generosity, gratitude, and God. Now it was girls gold and glow.
And that was what I live for literally the total opposite of kind of what I do now. And it turns out when those are your top priorities, it gets pretty unfulfilling pretty fast. And so I found myself longing for just a bigger purpose, and a more meaningful life. And so I made a complete one at which for me happened through a revived childhood faith, and it just changed my heart. And that eventually sent me down on a trip to Haiti. I went to Haiti, which is what you see here, a couple years after the 2010 earthquake, if you all recall that, just for context, that earthquake killed about 300,000 people, one of the biggest catastrophes of the century. And it left hundreds of thousands of families without a home. And so you have all these, these families and these mothers again, growing up in tents, tarp tents, because their homes were destroyed. And they were given temporary tents that were supposed to last for a few months. Turns out, it's now been almost nine years. And they're still living in tarp tents. And I got to meet these families and I got to understand what a life was like, without basic human needs. I'm talking like bottom of the pyramid, y'all food, water, shelter, right. And you can add on safety to that. And you have families growing up with really none of those. And they're living and just what we call survival mode. which essentially means no matter how talented you are, no matter how much intelligence you've been given, none of that matters, because all you can think about is just surviving. Now I met this mom, and it was 11 day old baby, I took this picture with my iPhone. And this was just the the kind of pivotal moment that happened in my heart, where I realized that myself Bret Hagler growing up in like a nice, comfortable American home, I did nothing to deserve that. Just like this baby did nothing to deserve to be born, where she was born. Right? It just happened. And so I felt man, like there has to be some responsibility to to try to help this right and to try to solve it. And so, new story at the core, the reason we innovate, the reason we do the things I'm going to show you we do is to change this story. And it says black and white as it gets when it comes to life change. And the positive news is that there is a solution. It's very solvable. It's not rocket science. And that's what I'm going to walk walk you guys through. So after Haiti, quickly learned this was a much bigger problem than in Haiti, as in 2000. Now 19, there's a little over a billion people in our world, yes, with all the advancements that we have, that are still living like this. So that's what new story exists to change. Okay, but why started charity because again, for context, I was I was 24 years old, I never done anything with charity before, I was like the last dude in the world that people thought would start a charity. And I didn't even know how you even begin starting a charity. So I actually didn't want to start one. At first, I tried to go find other organizations that I could really champion and I could really support and I can tell all my friends about and get them excited. And I was telling people when I was showing them that picture, I kept hearing the same objections and the same problem over and over. And essentially, that was, which I'll get to, that people couldn't really trust where their money was going. And I'm going to get into our problems. These are my two co founders, we wanted to start really small, I say this phrase all the time, dream big, and start small. And the very beginning, all we were trying to do was fun one house, right, just like how probably a lot of you here, you're trying to make you happy, you did try to make your first investment. And maybe there's some people here today, where you're just trying to get your first wins under your under your books, right? dream big and start small. And that's how we started. We started with one very simple house, like you see here for only about $6,000 per home. And I remember so vividly getting this first house funded was was just one of the best moments in my life and and in our lives. And so we started working harder, and we got a little bit bigger, and it became like, almost like a street. And then we went down and we saw our first like 10 homes. And we saw the families that had been living in those tents for almost six years at the time. We just became obsessed, like obsessed, because we saw the life changing difference for such an achievable amount of money. And then we got a little bit bigger.
And this is what we do today. We design and we develop entire communities have hundreds of homes, hundreds of families and sometimes thousands of people, we kind of think of ourselves almost as a developer, where we will find land, we will we will identify a local nonprofit partner on the ground to secure the land and then to find the families that are in need. And then because we have such a high volume of families in one area, we can then curate other partners to join us like a school, clean water, agriculture training, solar power, and more added services where the end product is not just the house, but it's a community that's built to last really for the next 50 hundred years. And so this is what we do. We've now done a little over 2200 homes since starting just about four years ago
16 of those communities, and we've now raised a little more than $25 million
in four years. Again, dream big, and start small. We've had some partnerships with some of literally the top companies in our country now. And they provided a lot of the revenue that's enabled to have this growth. And then this is the team that has been able to do it. We're really young team, we're pretty much in our mid to late 20s, some sour now in their early 30s. And we're all millennials, maybe that give some of you hope that we're not all that bad. And, and this is this is the crew that that is able to do it. And and our youth and the lens that we get to look through by not having experienced by not being way down by really status quo thinking and large organizations that are kind of stuck in a certain way, that has been our advantage, right. And so
when I want to talk through, really our core ideas, which gets into one why people have been excited to join news story, while we've had that fast growth, but also you could think of it from an entrepreneurial standpoint of how to a couple young kids four years ago, you know, grow this into four years is a very entrepreneurial story. And so that's what I want to talk through. And who knows, maybe I can spark some ideas for your business. So the first core idea is transparency and trust. Why was this such a big issue for us? Because when I was out trying to tell people and find other organizations, I kept hearing the same objections, dude, I totally get this is terrible. But how do you know where the money goes? I mean, I saw this headline about this large shit, I saw that this CEO gets paid this I've given in the past. And I don't really know where my money goes, right. And if I asked this room right now, if you guys are going to give up $1,000 online, to a large international charity, how many of you would
where that money goes and how it's being spent? And the end result and data on that donation? You don't have to raise your hands. but less than half the room statistically would say yes to that, right. So entrepreneurial, Lee, that's a massive opportunity to understand the problem, and then reverse engineer a new model. And so that's what we do. The first thing we're like, Well, what I like to say is that we solve the problem behind the obvious problem, right? The obvious problem was the kid that you saw, basically growing up in a trash can. But you have to solve the problem that is in the middle of that kid and a donor, and how do we create a better and more transparent medium, right. And that's how we do that's what we do. So the first thing is that we call it our 100% promise. And essentially, what that means is that if anybody in here wanting to help sponsor a house, our promise is that 100% of that donation goes towards building the house, none of it goes to my salary, none of it goes to me going on plane flights, that it goes to this crazy 3d printing thing we're doing, every single penny goes into one bank account that is then restricted towards building homes, we then have another bank account, literally, it's separate. And that is funded by a private group of donors that we call the builders. And they give very large amounts year over year. And they're funding all of my team. They're funding an r&d and innovation budget that we have. And so the accounts are totally separate, and they'll never cross. So then you can choose which one you'd like to give to. These are some of our builders, and the first house that we 3d printed last year, which we'll be talking about soon.
The next thing is that we knew that when people gave, especially internationally, they didn't really know where it was going, right. Like if you gave $6,000 to sponsor a house, traditionally, you wouldn't really know where that goes. And so we show every single family on our website, you can come you can meet the family, you can see their their kids, their ages, their dreams, and then you can give directly to that family. And then when they move in, we take moving videos, and then we send it back to every donor. So you can watch that family moving into the new house, and you know, your kid, maybe they helped raise $50, to donate, they get to see another little kid move into a house for maybe one of the first times in the last 10 years. So that's our donor experience. The second core big idea was that we didn't want to just build houses, we wanted to design and develop entire communities. And so the way that we do that, this is another question unity. Again, we find great local partners, great local talent they have, they have the right relationships with the government, they have the right relationships with local contractors. And we come in and we team up with them. And then we are able to employ local workers to build all of our communities. And we use all local material to build our communities to so literally every every dollar that gets donated a new story to build homes, passes through us, and is paying local workers and local materials. We have a school in all of our communities, which we're super passionate about. I don't have to run those schools, I find partners that can run those schools and do what they're best at. Because we have a community with because one of the things that I say a lot is, talent is universal. But opportunity is not. Right. And we want to be able to unlock that talent in these in these kids lives. And this is one of my favorite slides. Because we've unlocked this kid's crush on his classmate, if you take a close look.
It's like the best slide for me to show.
And then the last big idea is really what new story has become known for. Its it's this idea that we pioneer solutions, where we go in we look
at a community, we look at the way it's always been solved in the past. And then we try to figure out what can we do to make it faster to make it more efficient, to make it more effective to make it more transparent. And then we're going to hire the right team that has the skill sets. And then we're going to raise money, actually through an r&d and innovation budget to solve problems in a unique way. And so you already saw a little bit of the 3d printing.
reason why we're doing 3d printing and other things is because the problem is so massive and so overwhelming, that getting to making any type of dent in a billion people, the only way to get there is through new innovations and new technology, we believe, right? We're never going to get at solving such a big problem. If we're just making very steady, very linear year over year, tiny growth improvements, the deficit is too big and continues to grow. And so we believe that you have to come up with new solutions to significantly cut costs to build faster. And then the design challenge is how do you do those without sacrificing quality, right. And so what we came up with is 3d printing homes, what you're looking at is the 3d printing machine, what is coming out of the 3d printing machine is a proprietary cement
And I'm going to show another one minute video of of what we've created. And just to give you some context, the video you're about to see is a year old, we printed the first house in March of 2018, and Austin, Texas, and that's what the video is going to show.
So that's how it works. And that is what it printed. This is the first house in history to ever pass housing code. So if you go to Austin, this is like literally a house that somebody now is living in. It is permitted, it is a real thing. It's not a science project. And this was the first one that we created. Now, how did we get here, because a 3d printing machine did not exist, we had to make it. And that gives goes a little bit into the mindset that we have. And something that I'm very passionate for other nonprofits trying to push is that you have to try to pioneer new innovations. And so we took a risk, a calculated risk, we had to we had to pay a pretty good amount of money to make a machine. And then this is what it came out with. To be honest, it was better than pretty much any of us dream tough to start, it got a lot of attention. We've now had over 300 million video views. And we've had over a billion impressions, there's been about 1200 media outlets around the world that have had wrote on just one house. Right. And I think a really great lesson for me is that bold ideas attract bold people, they attract bold resources. And the only way to get this type of awareness is you gotta do something interesting. And that's what we were fortunate enough to do. And since the first house was done in March of 2018, we've been a little stealth. And we got a we have a partner, they're called icon. They're a technology startup, construction technology startup, we put in, I can't say the amount but a pretty good amount of money to pour more r&d and to make version two. And so we've been tinkering away in a warehouse in a laboratory on the next version, and we've got it to the point where we are now I can't see the date, but it's coming up pretty soon, we will be 3d printing, the first community in history of 100 homes, that'll happen this year. And I'm pretty sure you guys will probably see it in the press within a few months. So that's what's happening. This is a motto that you obviously heard in the opening video, it has become just,
I think who we are and what we believe in. Everybody told me in the beginning, when me and my co founders wanted to do 3d 3d printing, right? We said, Hey, we really think this actually could work. Because we have a really good use case. Like we're single family, small homes, like 400. So like 600 square feet. We've like heard of 3d printing houses, it's like kind of a thing, but nobody's really done it yet. What if we really try to find a partner and try it and give it a try? Right? And then we found somebody that we thought we could work worth which we have now. But it was a cost to that? Right? It was a pretty significant amount of cost couple hundred thousand dollars to just take a swing. And every almost everybody told me, dude, why would you do that just wait until somebody else does it. And then later down the road, you can do it, just take the $200,000 and put it towards building houses, because that's the normal thing to do. Right? That's, that makes sense. It's very reasonable. But our take is that when you're trying to put a dent and a problem that is so big, and it's so overwhelming, you have to be unreasonable. And you have to take big swings that if they work, they could have exponential impact. And again, in the beginning, everybody told me, we were crazy. And so we 3d printing the community, and we're not. And the whole world thinks it's so cool. And we're now 3d printing the first community that never would have happened if we would have just said stuck to what's normal, and what smart people are telling us to do. So this mantra is now playing into some other things I can't talk about yet. But it's it's something that we care deeply about. And I think everybody can apply to their businesses.
Why innovate as a nonprofit, I get asked this a lot, because this type of stuff like I know, it's it's exciting, and it's sexy, and it's cool to talk about and it's shiny, like, I get that. But the real reason why we're doing it is because if it works, we could reach more families exponentially faster and better than we could ever do the traditional way, meaning that more girls like Vanessa don't have to grow up in those slums without safety, shelter, food, and water. And she can better have a better chance to actualize her dreams. But with new story.
This is one of my favorite phase, Montrose. People ask me all the time, well, how can I actually make an impact? And it just seems like, there's such big problems, like, I don't know that I could actually make a difference in somebody's life or like, so I'm just, I'm just not going to do anything, because the problems are so big. And I get that because it can be very paralyzing. And I understand what that feels like all the time. And so I think our default is to just add, I'm not going to really do anything, because is it really going to make a difference. And what I like to say is that every single one of us here, look, the reality is we're not going to change the world by ourselves, right? I'm going to change the world, I'm going to try to change a few parts of the world. And I'm going to work on innovations that can do it. But that's that's a separate thing, right? We can't change the world. But what everybody here can do for damn sure is you can change somebody's world, right? You could change somebody's world, in your office, you could change somebody's world here in Provo, you could change the nobody's world, wherever you are. And we all have the power to do that we can do for one, what we wish we could do for all. And the beauty in that is that there's no excuses, because every single person is capable of changing one person's world or one family's world. And so that's what I would actually try to encourage you most from my talk. Obviously, you can do that through news story. You could sponsor a family, you could help that way. But just back in your everyday life. Do for one, what you wish you could do for all do for one, what you wish you could do for all?
I'm going to skip this one real.
Okay, so wrapping up, and then we'll do a quick q quick, a few quick q&a is, how can you join us? There's really two ways that I tell business leaders are investors. Most people like to get their companies involved somehow, they can split it with between themselves and their company. We have a whole type of brand partnership program, where we send you all types of marketing materials and stories that you can use and share. And there's really two main ways the one of the top is can fund a house house is $7,000.
decent amount of money, I know that. But if you really try to break it down into could you get other people to crowdfund that house, could you do it through the business somehow, it's it's a pretty achievable goal. If somebody wants to work towards that, aside from funding a home, you can just go on our website and give $5 if you want doesn't matter, you have any amount, but one home is about $7,000. And that will show you the family, you'll get to see them when they move in. And if you want to attach it to your business, we have a whole program to do that. And then the other one at the bottom is what we're calling, especially this year, housing innovation partner. And what that means is that it's a lot of people that have more of an investor type mindset where funding a house is amazing and is great. But the other option would be trying to help fund the innovation and the r&d behind how we build more homes. And right now we're actually trying to raise money for a new 3d printing machine, we already have one. And we want a second one, so that we can 3d print the first community this year faster. And so the ways that you can do that, to be part of that program, it's $5,000, minimum goes up to 20,000. If anybody does 20,000, then you get to come on very special trips to the field to see that in action. So if any of that is interesting, you can just text this number, and I'll leave it up here during QA. And then we'll just kind of send back
a text thread that you can enter your email and your name. And then my brand team will reach out to you for more information. So that's all I've got. We can do some q&a, maybe for like 10 ish minutes. And I'll leave this up here and my email as well. So thanks for listening.