It’s been a few months since we last chatted with DIVERTcity, when they won a contest for free office space at ROC.
Since then, they’ve been steadily working toward their goal: to make action sports available around the world. They are currently preparing for a trip to Costa Rica, where they will build a skate park for the local community.
Over the holidays we caught up with co-founder David Monhait and got to know DIVERTcity a little better.
What is your role at DIVERTcity?
Both Zach (Adamson) and myself are the Founders of DIVERTcity. We created the overall concept and business model.
DIVERTcity is about to turn a significant corner as we go into development. As we hand off major portions of the project to individuals and firms who are much more skilled than we are, our role will be to drive the overall vision of DIVERTcity and ensure it is cohesive throughout all its various parts.
Can you explain what DIVERTcity does to break down the barriers around action sports for those in urban populations?
Sure, but let me explain the WHY first.
Action sports have the inspirational and transformative power to teach some of life’s most important values. Things like individuality, motivation, courage, and resilience are all things that you learn through these sports. These are things that don’t leave you when you step off the board. They become part of who you are as a person.
We noticed that large urban populations don’t have access to these sports for varying reasons. This means they are potentially shut out from learning these values – and that doesn’t bode well with us.
We wanted to create a place that breaks down these barriers to participation.
By bringing together all the elements of action sports together under one roof, we significantly decrease the costs associated with participating in any of these sports. Youth who are from the local area will get free or highly subsidized passes to DIVERTcity.
This falls under our “Community Goods and Services,” one of three impact verticals associated with DIVERTcity.
We also benefit the surrounding community and population at large through Job Creation and Commercial Goods and Services.
What inspired the idea for DIVERTcity? Can you talk a little bit about the history, and the journey to where you are now?
Both Zach and myself have paths that are checkered with mischievous and illicit behavior. This wasn’t because we’re bad kids, just because we didn’t have proper outlets for our time and energy.
Luckily for us, action sports came into our lives at one point or another. Whether we knew it or not, skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing was lighting the fire for our entrepreneurial futures.
This lifestyle led us to the University of Colorado at Boulder, where I studied architecture and planning and Zach studied Operations and Entrepreneurship.
It was in one of those entrepreneurship classes, where students needed to think of an idea for the class to pursue, that Zach had the initial idea for an action sports complex that served underprivileged youth.
His idea didn’t win, but that didn’t mean it left him.
Zach later went on to work at an experiential design consultancy, helping executives and companies become more effective (and profitable) by taking an experience driven approach to their operations.
One day he mentioned the idea to his colleagues, who happened to be former Disney Imagineers. They thought it was incredible and insisted that they help develop the initial concept. This is the concept you see today.
After school, I worked as an architect in Chicago for 5-years, working on a number of projects varying in size and scale. From skyscrapers to large scale adaptive reuse projects, you name it, we did it! I moonlight and lead a number of creative and start up projects in music, entertainment, media, and action sports.
Eventually our paths crossed in LA at a Phish show that we had been conned into going to. Our friends ditched us in the nosebleed section and with nothing else to talk about, DIVERTcity became the topic of conversation.
From there it was on, and a few months later, we left our jobs and made DIVERTcity our main focus.
Since then it’s been 12 months of brain damage with the support of our insane advisory group and our world-class partners.
What projects are you guys currently focused on? Top priorities right now?
We’ve got a few things on our plates right now.
We are raising our next round of capital, launching an Entrepreneurship Program, and leading a campaign to build a skate park in Costa Rica for underprivileged youth.
Long term goals? What is something huge you want to see DIVERTcity accomplish?
Open DIVERTcity 1 in Los Angeles in 2019, then start popping them up all over the country, then the world.
And finally, could you say something about your experience working at the ROC shared office spaces?
Naturally, we love ROC. Our executive office is perfect for just the two of us when we need to be together, and we’re stoked that we are able to rent rooms as needed. The rooftop is killer and the social events are great! We especially love Al (we call him gator), he’s the man!