Producer Beth Greenwald had long sought to develop a show revolving around the fates of uniquely New York startup businesses but couldn’t find the right format. She finally came across John Henry, a Dominican-American wunderkind who sold his first business venture by the age of 21. Through his Harlem Capital firm, Henry’s mission is to coach promising business ventures to prosperity.
Each episode of “Hustle” features Henry working with an entrepreneur to study the problems in startup business ventures in a range of fields — food, apparel, beauty et al — and help guide them to success. General Motors’ Cadillac is a co-producer of the series in an effort to showcase its new Cadillac XT4 model.
Greenwald knew Samuelsson, the star chef who has built the bustling Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem, and one of his business partners, Derek Evans, through mutual acquaintances. Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys was recruited as the show is a fit with her focus on promoting diversity and the New York business environment.
Greenwald said “Hustle” has a natural tension built into the story as the entrepreneurs inevitably have everything on the line in trying to get a business off the ground.
“There are inherent stakes in each of these stories,” Greenwald said. “Whether they had a 9 to 5 job or they have put up their life savings, they’re all relatable and compelling stories. They’re all different people. Not all of them have a business background so they’re going to make mistakes.”
Henry was recently featured in Forbes magazie’s “30 Under 30” watch list for 2019, per Viceland. Greenwald, Keys, Samuelsson, Mark Perez and Patrick Moses are exec producers.
(Pictured: Marcus Samuelsson, Alicia Keys and John Henry)