How 17-year-old Ian Michael Brock is using Dream Hustle Code to Diversify the Tech Industry

What is Dream Hustle Code

Dream Hustle Code is an organization that aims to inspire Black + Brown Youth’s confidence and interest in computer science and computer coding education. They show youth that creating and shaping technology is possible for them.

The non-profit was founded by entrepreneur Ian Michael Brock, who wants to give every student access and opportunity to learn computer science. He and his team have organized computer science events to show underrepresented and underestimated communities how they can become creators of technology.

Today, Dream Hustle Code partners with influential brands and celebrities to make the vision a reality. We sat virtually with Ian to hear about the organization’s history, current state, and future plans! 

Ian Michael Brock - Dream Hustle Code

How did Dream Hustle Code get Started?

Two Average Gamers: What sparked your interest in technology and inspiring others that look like you.

Ian Michael Brock: It started when I was 8 years old and in third grade. My mom found a video called “What Most Schools Don’t Teach”. It explains how every kid in the world should learn how to code. My initial reaction was thinking it was boring because number 1 – I didn’t see anyone who was interesting. I saw people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, but I didn’t really know who they were at the time nor did I really care what they were talking about. And number 2 – the only things on my mind were having fun playing basketball and gaming with friends. But what grabbed my attention was seeing 2-time champion and Hall of Famer, Mr. Chris Bosh show up in the video! He talked about his experiences and how ‘coding is cool’ and ‘being smart is cool’. Hearing that from someone who looked like me, someone I could relate to, and someone I looked up to, that’s what really made the difference. 

Fast forward to later in that year of 2013, we ended up hosting an “Hour of Code” event at my elementary school. We invited another elementary school from the south side of Chicago. It was such a success that a bunch of my friends’ parents started reaching out to us to ask what this coding thing was and what we were going to do next.  So that’s really what started the journey for Dream Hustle Code because we knew there was a lack of computer science being taught in the schools but we also knew that there was a lack of Black and Brown people in the tech space. Had Chris Bosh not been in that video, I would have never thought that computer science was for me and Dream Hustle Code would have never been created.

TAG: That’s really cool. Now let’s jump forward to Dream Hustle Code. Can you talk to us about where that name came from and what it means to you?

IMB: The initial name was “Coding Initiative”. That was something that we came up with at first because our mission was to bring computer science education to those that are underestimated as well as underrepresented in the tech space. We wanted something that had meaning behind it. Whether you are working on a project in the code space or a project in life, it always starts off with a dream, and you need to dream big. Once you have that dream, you have to hustle your way to turn it into reality. You have to stay up late nights, stay consistent, stay disciplined – and that all comes with hustling.  Last but not least the “code” part. Now the code part means two things. Number 1, it means that you are writing the code to your reality. But also, the coding part means what code do you stick by, what morals do you live by. 

TAG: And how did you come up with the mission and vision for Dream Hustle Code?

IMB: There was a lack of computer science being taught in the schools. One of our mottos is, “if you can see it, you can be it”. One of the reasons a lot of kids don’t see themselves in tech is because they don’t see examples of people that look like them in the tech space. That’s really how my journey started. I saw somebody who looked like me, saw somebody I could relate to. That’s what made me believe that it was for me. So our mission is honestly, my life story and how I got involved with this, and our motto – see it, be it – has stuck with us to this day. 

TAG: Awesome, and I know you’ve mentioned Chris Bosh a few times now. Has there been anyone else who has influenced your journey? 

IMB: Man, there have been a lot of people! They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that’s the truth. I’ve had so many influences from my parents to mentors, friends, family, teachers. Mentors like Mr.Louis Carr, Mr. Jeff Hoffman, and Mr. Shaka Senghor, and a bunch of others. There have been two big lessons that each of them has taught me and has really stuck with me. 

The first is the importance of relationship building. A good friend mentioned relationships are worth more than money. I’ve seen this be true time and time again. You can have all the money in the world, but relationships will not only put you in a position to make more money but they will also put you in a position and open doors to opportunities that you would have never had if you did not have those relationships. 

I’ll give you an example from my life.  Close relationships have allowed me to speak at an event with Mr. Ray Lewis and the founder of Priceline.com when I was in 7th grade. A relationship that I had, allowed me to speak in front of 15k people during We Day in Chicago. A relationship I had with Mr. Louis Carr led to me being able to speak at the BET Awards on the red carpet in front of millions of people watching from home. They also led to me being able to work with McDonald’s on Teen Tech Live, and last year’s summer program. Having relationships and being able to nurture and cultivate them, will lead to some opportunities you would have never thought or imagined you could have.

The second lesson came from interviewing Ms. Oprah Winfrey for a book I’m writing. One of the last things she said was, “The work that you do is not about you. You are just one piece of the puzzle of the greater universe.” That was a humbling moment.  When I feel like giving up or that I’m too tired, I remind myself that everything I do matters. It’s not always about how I feel. The decisions I make today can touch millions of people in the future. Understanding that this isn’t necessarily about me, it’s about helping others, that lesson has allowed me to push past my limits and stick with it even until now.

TAG: That’s a really great lesson to take yourself out of what you are doing and look at the bigger picture!

IMB: Exactly!

What has Dream Hustle Code been up to recently?

TAG: You mentioned Teen Tech Live. What positive takeaways did you get from that and are there any plans for the next event?

IMB: Teen Tech Live 2.0 was an amazing event. We had done it earlier this year during Black History Month but we wanted it to go bigger. This time around, we virtually hosted 15,000 kids all across the world including New Zealand, London, Nigeria, Ethiopia, even Jamaica. Some of the speakers we had included one of my mentors and founder of Priceline.com, Mr. Jeff Hoffman. He reinforced that it is important for kids to have an entrepreneurial mindset. Kyrie Irving, one of my favorite basketball players, told students that it’s okay to be different and to be comfortable in your own skin. We also had speakers from Microsoft, Amazon, McDonald’s, and prominent figures in the gaming industry. The latter shared how people can get involved in gaming without being a full-time content creator. 

For Teen Tech Live 3.0, the plan was to have an in-person event, but the pandemic changed those plans. Hopefully, in December 2022 we will host Teen Tech Live 3.0 at an HBCU campus. We are looking to either do this in Atlanta or at FAMU because my dad went and has close ties to that university. It’ll be both virtual and in-person, hopefully. We want to inspire more Black and Brown youth through social media, gaming, and many other aspects of life.

TAG: Best of both worlds, you’ll be able to maximize the participation by doing virtual and in-person. You mentioned McDonald’s and FaZe Clan. Can you speak a little further on any lessons they shared? 

IMB: We had our own segment as a partner of Mcdonald’s. One of the key takeaways was the importance of having a strong brand and innovating. 

Ms. LaDoris Banks from McDonald’s talked about why it’s important to innovate and stay with the trends. During the pandemic, everyone had to innovate to quickly transition into a virtual space. Companies had to do the same thing. McDonald’s created so many partnerships to expand its reach and build the brand. They introduced the Travis Scott meal and the Saweetie meal. Through all these different partnerships, they were keeping up with the trends and continuously innovating throughout this pandemic.

And the importance of having a strong brand. One of our speakers from FaZe Clan, Matthew ‘BK’ Augustin shared that having a strong brand and solid foundation will allow you to get your foot into amazing doors. Saying that you’re part of FaZe Clan is immediately recognizable in many rooms. This gives the team many opportunities just by being part of the organization. Having that strong brand will allow you to go further.

Another impactful moment from that session was shared by one of the teachers: “their students were surprised to know that companies like McDonald’s use computer science to promote their brand”. Not many people see McDonald’s as a tech company, but they use it each and every day. Not just to promote their brand but add innovations like the kiosks to help with ordering food. Also through their marketing and their branding and building partnerships like with FaZe Clan. They’ve done amazing not only through Black & Positively Golden for black and brown youth but also inspiring them to do amazing things in tech, social media, gaming, and other aspects of life.


TAG: Absolutely, those are two good lessons – brand strength and innovation. It’s also a good reminder that tech has a big piece in everything that we do and it’s important if you want to be successful in today’s world.

Tell us about the Future of Dream Hustle Code!

TAG: Let’s talk a little bit about you personally. Where do you see yourself in a decade? 

IMB: That’s a tough question because in a decade I’ll be 27 years old and I’ll be a completely different person by that age. I’m super passionate about bringing more kids into the ecosystem. The goal is to have Teen Tech Live be the go-to event that brings kids into tech. I hope to grow it to millions virtually, with a few thousand attendees in person. Also, I also want to have a center in every city that enables students to learn the coding languages they need and go into a pipeline of suitable jobs. 

Separately, I have an interest in public speaking and could see myself getting more involved in that. Lastly, I’m a numbers guy. I want to grow in real estate and investing, then teach and mentor others. I’m the type of person where I’m not selfish – I don’t want to be the only one who is successful. I’d rather have 10 million dollars and teach others how to make 1 million than have 1 billion and not be helping others. That’s just the type of person I am. I expect to be in a totally different place by 2031, geez!

TAG: That is a little scary to think about that far in the future. But that sounds like you have a lot of goals to strive toward. When you have a little downtime, does gaming fit into your schedule?

IMB: Absolutely! Gaming has been a part of my life since I was 3. I used to play on my Nintendo DS, PS3, and Xbox 360. My dad taught me to work hard first and play hard later. After I get all my work done – and I have to stay disciplined with this – then I’ll hop on the game. Right now, I play a lot of Fortnite, Warzone, and NBA 2K. I’m the type of person who can spend 8 hours on a game, grab some food, and then come right back. I need to stay disciplined and manage my time. It’s especially tempting because I am on Christmas break right now so I have some time to myself. But gaming is a huge part of my life and I don’t think I’m going to stop gaming ever.

Rapid Fire Questions

Mac or PC

PC is easy because I love using Microsoft Windows 10 and now Windows 11. When you’re doing productivity and gaming, it’s user-friendly. Mac OS isn’t as gaming-friendly.

Apple or Google Phones

Now I’m the opposite, I’m going with Apple! In terms of the phone, love it! They are simple and I’ve got my iPhone right here. 

Front-end Development or Back-end Development

Throughout my experience, I’ve mostly learned front-end development. I know a little bit of back-end, but I’m starting to learn more. I definitely find back-end interesting, but right now front-end is my favorite.

Mario or Sonic

Super Mario. Gotta love Mario – on my Wii, I used to play so much! I couldn’t get past Bowser mainly because I was young but I still loved it. I never really played much Sonic.

Playstation or Xbox

This is tough because I play PlayStation a lot, but I love that Xbox has Game Pass which can be used on multiple devices. I use my Xbox controller on my PC. I’d have to say this one is a tie.

Favorite Game of All Time

I’ll give you my top three. I like story games – my favorite story game of all time is The Last of Us. It was an incredible PS exclusive which I’m playing for the 3rd time. I love Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and have a lot of fond memories of playing it with my cousins. Another 2K game that I really enjoyed was 2K13, which is when I started playing the series. If I had to pick one, I’d have to go with The Last of Us just because the storyline was really good and it felt like I was in the game.   

How you can Get Involved

We’re fortunate to have had the chance to hear about the great work that Ian and his team are doing! You can find more information about Dream Hustle Code on their website. There, you can stay up to date on upcoming events, announcements from the team, and donate toward the cause.

In terms of his continued academic pursuits, Ian plans to take a gap year in the Fall of 2022 to complete some projects and then make a decision on college. His shortlist includes Harvard, Howard, FAMU (his dad’s alma mater), and Stanford where he plans on studying Computer Science and Human Behavior + Psychology

We are excited about the future of this Chicago-based organization and hope to help them continue influencing underrepresented communities!

There’s more to the interview, including some bonus material where we go deeper on gaming topics. Check out the entire video on our Patreon to hear everything Ian shared with us!

14 Comments
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Ayanna
Ayanna
2 years ago

This was an outstanding read! It just goes to show how truly important representation is for Black and Brown children. So dope.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ayanna
Otis Thomas
2 years ago

What a powerful story! Loved hearing your entrepreneurial journey, along with solving a relevant problem in our community. Never been an IT guy however I realize the value behind it. We use it everyday for my business. Thanks again for sharing.

Manny F
Manny F
2 years ago

This was awesome on so many levels! It real inspiring to see the youth very in touch with the technological advances, but using it at the same time to pave their future! This kid is on the right track to push other just like him.

Manny Bamfo
Manny Bamfo
2 years ago

Wow this is inspiring. Ian please let me know if I can be helpful in any way ! -embamfo@gmail.com

also FT keep up the great work !

Nate
Nate
2 years ago

This young man has a great head on his shoulders. He is definitely wise beyond his years! I love what he is doing and his goals for the community. I wish nothing but the best in his future endeavors!

Arod
Arod
2 years ago

Phenomenal read! So inspirational.  Ian you are doing gods work my dude. I too come from an urban blue collar background where I didn’t meet any engineers who looked like me until I was in college.  Many don’t understand the negative effects it does on a young psyche, so to see all that you are doing… you got me fired up!  Keep pushing, keep growing, keep inspiring others to get out of there comfort zones and make their dreams into reality. We are limitless. I’m so freaking happy you are doing this and there is no doubt you will meet and exceed your goals young king.  You got this 💪🏾 

Avery
Avery
2 years ago

This is a dope topic of conversation and amazing that such a young individual, especially one that looks like me, was able to accomplish so much in their life especially at such a young age! I wish he was able to divulge a little more about himself and how he acquired and maintained the relationships he got to be able to speak at the BET awards and such but still such an inspiring story! I wish nothing but success for Him and His future because it is definitely very bright!

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