Today we’d like to introduce you to Raphael Wright.
Raphael, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When I began my entrepreneurial career, I was the quintessential black businessman (at the time), make money and flex. I didn’t care about social issues as much. I only wanted to make money and escape poverty. Then, in 2014, I “woke up” for some reason and wanted to rebuild the hood into something better than I’ve seen it be. I began studying stats about health, wealth, and education in America’s inner-city and instantly wanted to start changing those things.
That year, I launched Plug’d Media to serve as my edutainment platform to wake other hustlers up to begin the movement too. Since its inception, I’ve published one critically acclaimed book How 2 Hustle (2016), and two Amazon best sellers: Wealth (2017), and Make The Hood Great Again (2019). Also, Plug’d Media controls the trademark to the phrase “Make The Hood Great Again,” where we produced the most premier hats of that slogan.
In 2016, I began mapping out my plans to tackle social and economic development in the hood on a large scale. I feel grocery stores are the main anchors in a community’s small business foundation. With solvent grocery stores, you can build virtually everything else. Plus, a healthier community can survive and thrive. So in 2016, I founded Us Food Market (now Neighborhood Grocery) as a community-owned grocery store concept to tackle the food insecurity, poverty, and displacement in the city.
In 2017, I publicly began soliciting for funds to launch this venture via GoFundMe, where I was able to raise close to $50k for research & development. I’m not from the industry, so I had to learn the game, gather market research, etc. In 2019, after two years of trying to land a place, I secured a purchase agreement to acquire a building on the east side of the city. In late January, I launched an equity crowdfunding campaign to sell stock to Michigan residents, making them founding investors in the project. They’ll share some of the profits while enjoying discounted products once we get opened. The company needs $1.2 million so we have a lot of work to do. Since the launch (today is 2-2-2020), the company has raised $10,000 in seed funding.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
This has definitely been a rough ride. Elevation requires discipline and sacrifices you wouldn’t imagine. Personally, you lose friends and family. You lose all control at times because you have so many decisions to make, with so little time, with not much room for compromise. It sucks walking up that ladder.
Professionally, I’ve experienced issues because of my age and forms of expression. At times, older generations found it hard to believe in me for various reasons: I’m too young, or I’m unqualified to push for such change. Sometimes being from the hip hop culture, our expression could be a bit overwhelming and in your face to some, and it makes people uncomfortable. I’ve experienced pushback from community leaders because my forwardness. Nonetheless, those are the things we all will encounter trying to come up.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
Where do I start. My social investment conglomerate is Urban Plug L3C, the parent company to Plug’d Media and Neighborhood Grocery. Plug’d Media is a media company that specializes in hip hop edutainment. Plug’d Media has published by three books to date: How 2 Hustle (2016), Wealth (2019), and Make The Hood Great Again (2019). Later this year, Plug’d Media will be releasing content for The Urban Health Channel, a YouTube channel about health in Urban America.
Neighborhood Grocery is a community-owned grocery store concept being rolled out in Detroit hopefully this year. The purpose of Neighborhood Grocery is to put good food back in the hood while creating a community crowdfunding platform to restore ownership, battle poverty, all while battling displacement in Detroit. The company is selling shares of its stock to Michigan residents to acquire and launch our first store this year. Aside from that, I’m also involved in the auto business. I’m a principal at 3K Auto Services, a repair facility on the city’s eastside. I’m also involved in real estate, securities investing, all that cool stuff.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Right now, I’m focused on raising $1 million to finish this store acquisition for Neighborhood Grocery. All the other pieces are sure to fall in place from there – more product from Make The Hood Great Again, another book or two, some social justice campaigns, the launch of the Urban Health Channel, etc.
- Address: 828 W. Willis
500 Detroit, MI 48215
- Website: www.neighborhood-grocery.com
- Phone: 313-313-3131
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @fairo_rafa, @neighborhoodgrocery, @makethehoodgreatagain, @urbanhealthchannel, @3kautoservices313
- Facebook: @neighborhoodgrocery, @makethehoodgreatagain, @urbanhealthchannel, @3kautoservices
- Twitter: @fairo_rafa, @neighborgrocery
- Yelp: www.makethehoodgreatagain.shop
- Other: www.makethehoodgreatagain.shop