Source: Read original article posted by Fearless.

For most high school students, an after-school job is usually a few shifts at a restaurant, maybe stocking shelves at a store or some light admin work in an office during summer break.

Things were a little different from Felix Gilbert. His computer engineer dad saw the potential and opportunity in graphics and web design in the early 2000’s and helped Felix start a graphics company, G & G Graphics and Web Design. The company quickly took off.

“It was kind of wild because we were doing a ton of work for people throughout  Colorado & once I graduated high school we had an influx of music industry clients on the East Coast.Many of our clients didn’t know I was in high school because my dad fielded  the calls.” he said.

One project led to another and a few years later, Felix’s dad came to him with an out-of-the-blue question: How much would you charge the Navy for a website?

Being young and not totally sure what the question was about, Felix rattled off a quick number of $30,000. It was only when his dad came back with a contract from the Navy Office of Small Business that Felix realized this was actually happening.

“As a kid I freaked out because it was obviously the most money I’d ever seen in my life and this project was very serious. It was a real thing, this isn’t just like a project with a music label.”

The project worked out well and Felix continued balancing a full-time regular job with work for his own company, now called XCell. But the push and pull of balancing XCell with other work eventually became too much. He considered and tried taking XCell full-time a few times but after running himself to the ground, he would put the XCell dream back on the shelf.

Felix knew how to do the work his clients needed, still the skills required to run his own business weren’t clicking.

“I didn’t know what I was doing. I would be up at 4am and going to bed at 12 or 1am the next day,” he said. “I was hustling trying to find clients and I was taking workshops to learn the business side but it just wasn’t hitting. I wasn’t able to land solid stuff and I didn’t know how to run a company.”

So when Felix joined Fearless in 2015, he told CEO Delali Dzirasa that he was hanging up his XCell hat to focus on Fearless and building software with a soul. Even though Felix said he was okay with closing down XCell, it’s hard for Delali to hear someone put down their passions.

When Fearless started Hutch, our digital services incubator, Delali recruited Felix to be part of the first cohort. 

“I always had a vision but didn’t know how to make it a real thing. I was always asking, ‘how do you take it to another level?’ and that’s where Hutch came in,” Felix said. “They really mess up your foundation, and challenge you on what you think and know, and really start building you up so you can grow and have healthy growth.”

In a sad for Fearless, but happy for Felix situation, he graduated from Hutch at the end of 2020 and left Fearless in 2021 to work on XCell full time. The company counts the Air Force, Return Home Baltimore, Billion Oyster Project, and The Black Brain Trust as clients.

With XCell growing, Felix is focusing on scale and helping the government transform.

“My goal is to be one of the leaders in the federal government space creating transformation within government agencies.”