We had the good fortune of connecting with Donna Budica and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Donna, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’ve had a pretty unconventional career and an even less typical entrepreneurial journey.
I’ve been an education advisor & career mentor for over a decade, working with clients that include royal families, diplomats, media moguls, international students, & high profile families. For years, I also consulted other education companies, private schools, homeschools & concierge services on business development, marketing, & operations.
Simultaneously, and on the opposite side of the spectrum, I built a career in media & entertainment, worked with talent across film, tv & music and consulted for Fortune 500 companies. With a degree in Finance from The Wharton School & MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business, I realized that learning to excel in business and pursue a fast-paced career was something that high academic achievement doesn’t predict, or prepare us for. In other words, doing well in school and elite college admissions is not a barometer for the life-skills required for real-world success.
After successfully driving over 1000% revenue growth for my corporate clients within education, I decided to launch dBuEdu to help bridge the gap between academic achievement & real world success. Our mission is to prepare the next generation of leaders through Mentorship, customized enrichment programs, and Financial Literacy & Leadership courses.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
dBuEdu specializes in helping students & young adults (Gen-Z) excel academically, personally, & professionally. By incorporating Emotional Intelligence, Financial Literacy, 1:1 Industry Mentorship, & Meta-Learning principles, we create high-impact, accelerated Success Roadmaps where we teach students HOW to achieve their goals — during and long after school.
The problem with most education consultants is that they’ve ONLY ever worked in education. On the other hand, we have a decade-long competitive edge — expertise spanning both elite academia AND high level business, across multiple industries. And the global relationships we have created along the way doesn’t come from a college prep course. You can’t just replicate years of experience. So we help students accelerate those life-skill learnings by focusing on practical hands-on experience in topics that are actually interesting and relevant to them.
COVID has truly changed the state of traditional education. People are demanding solutions to institutional shortcomings and the value our programs generate helps compensate for all the resources young adults simply do not have.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of the greatest things about L.A. is the pockets of sub-cities you get within the city. The culture, food, people, activities, vibe of each area is distinct & unique. As a Philadelphia native, I moved to L.A. intent on maximizing my time with the ocean so I’ve been a West-sider all my L.A. life. But working in entertainment (especially at a talent agency) & getting my MBA from USC allowed me to also spend significant time in West Hollywood & Downtown.
Downtown is the pocket of L.A. that feels most like a “traditional” city, so we would start there and work our way west. I’m a contemporary art lover which means MOCA, The Broad, and Hauser & Wirth are definite parts of our jaunt before hopping over to Little Tokyo for sushi + sake.
There are 3 specific hoods of WeHo everyone should experience. Each represents part of the glossy dream that every Hollywood-or-buster aspires to, but each offers a taste of it from a different perspective.
First, of course, there’s the Robertson, Beverly, Melrose triangle: The Ivy, Kitson, Sur, Tom Tom, Catch.
Flashy, glossy, instagrammable. An aspiring influencer’s dream. Overtly designed for newbies & tourists and equally as delightfully escapist for L.A. inhabitants.
Next, there’s agent-in-training “networking” heaven: The Den, Chateau Marmont, Laurel Hardware, E.P/L.P. Hot spots for up-and-comers…and you can feel it in that buzzy energy of the line outside.
Finally, there’s the pseudo-low-key & pretend-exclusive high-key spots: The Nice Guy, Delilah’s, Nobu Malibu, Giorgio Baldi. Indulge yourself and spot a celebrity.
Lastly, take San Vicente from Brentwood to Santa Monica. Sunday brunch at Brentwood Country Mart, afternoon cocktails at Bungalow, happy hour & appetizers at Elephante, overlooking the ocean view of the sunset.
From Downtown to Ocean – if you’re going to do L.A., make sure it FEELS like you’re doing L.A. There’s something gratuitously satisfying about the cliche of this city, even after a decade+ of living here.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My sister. Here’s a little bit of context: As a first-generation immigrant, growing up, I was expected to pursue follow a traditional education & career path. In my early teens, I knew I would ultimately be my own boss. I also knew that I loved learning, that education was important to me, and that I wanted to be in a creative & culturally relevant industry. After finishing my MBA and having the breadth & depth of business experience across education & entertainment, I decided to start my first company.
Despite having two business degrees, in retrospect, I recognize that I (and many of my peers) never actually learn how “real life” works — and least of all, how to be a successful entrepreneur.
I was more fortunate than most when I decided to dive in head first. My sister, who is an attorney, quit her prestigious job at the #1 record label to help me launch that company, in effect making my entrepreneurial dreams a reality.
I credit immigrant mentality for my relentless pursuit of excellence. I have always had intrinsic motivation, incredible self-discipline and drive. The catalyst for becoming an entrepreneur was recognizing that I could contribute & create more value, for myself and for the world, by focusing my strengths, passions, & diversity of experience than I otherwise could working anywhere else.