For many Black entrepreneurs, the true path to economic freedom and independence starts with the launch of a business – but entrepreneurship doesn’t have to stop at one venture. Just take it from serial entrepreneur Ryan Fletcher, a former A&R executive juggling multiple thriving business endeavors.
Fletcher — a Brooklyn native and graduate of Purdue University — grew up surrounded by music, so naturally he believed his calling was to get involved in the music and entertainment industry. After working at places like Def Jam Recordings and Downtown Records, he started dabbling in his own side hustles that quickly turned into buzzing businesses like Yacht Club Company — a Black-owned yacht experience based in Tulum — and ECOGAVE — a biodegradable straw company.
In addition to helming his own businesses, Fletcher is also one of three co-hosts of the Guys Next Door Podcast — a show that details the experiences of millennial Black men today. All of these ventures are a part of Fletcher’s journey to becoming his own boss, and although they didn’t initially start with that focus, his end goal was to always indulge in endeavors that came natural to him.
“At first I used to do a lot of things, but I [didn’t] take them serious because when you put your focus into one thing or another it’s hard to focus on everything,” he tells AfroTech. “But as I gravitated towards the yacht [company], the straw company and my podcast, it [turned into] just picking and choosing [business endeavors] that would kind of collide together.”
Like many in the pandemic, the pause on real life gave people like Fletcher the chance to plot on his next move. As previously reported by Travel Noire, the entrepreneur invested in a property in Tulum, Mexico early on before it became a travel hotspot. His decision was encouraged by a shared vision with his mother in which they both predicted the location would eventually become a popular destination for tourists. That vision then came to fruition during the pandemic and ultimately led to Fletcher co-founding his on-demand yacht charter service — which has served travelers, influencers and even celebrities like Megan Thee Stallion, Trey Songz and Johnny Venus of EarthGang.
Unlike others who take the solo route in entrepreneurship, Fletcher made sure his path wasn’t a lonely one as he surrounds himself with other successful people that inspire him to keep prospering with his businesses. Like his friends Naj Tyler and Julian Kennedy who both work for Viola — the largest Black-owned cannabis operator in the nation — as well as his cousin Waun Daun who co-owns a food truck and New York City-based restaurant called Biggie’s Cafe.
“I don’t have to look too far to know what motivates me and know where I want to be because we all motivate each other,” Fletcher says. “That’s like the biggest thing is having like a core circle because if you’re around a whole bunch of people who aren’t doing nothing, you won’t do nothing. If they’re not making money, you won’t make money. So surround yourself with people you can look up to and learn from.”
Being a self-made entrepreneur takes having a hustler’s spirit, and Fletcher has proved that he has exactly what it takes to get quality businesses off the ground. His motivation now as a self-proclaimed “dot connector” is to continue building and elevating in a way that not only benefits himself, but others around him.
“I feel like everything I’ve done up till now has been based on what I can bring to the table or what I’ve done [previously],” he says. “I’m not going to say I had no help, but most of the help I got was from people that I didn’t know. I just took advice, worked the system and learned how to be a people person. That’s what I had to do.”
The best piece of advice Fletcher offers to other aspiring entrepreneurs is to lead with passion and not a greed. According to him, knowing that the effort he puts in for his businesses is genuine gives him peace of mind and allows him to enjoy the “work that doesn’t feel like work.”
As far as uplifting other Black-owned businesses goes, Fletcher is a strong believer that the support for these companies needs to be a year-round effort — especially when it comes to lending our ideas and services to other major brands. Last year’s protests may have started a universal movement to amplify more Black businesses, but beyond occasions like Black Business Month, brands like Fletcher’s deserve to get their props no matter what time of year it is.
“I’m all about Black people and I feel like we can all succeed if we all stick together,” he says. “If we celebrate each other all year round, these other brands and companies will have to work with us because we are the culture. We are the ones that they look at and they steal everything that we do. But if we come together and put our foot down, then they’ll understand that they can’t just keep [taking] our ideas. If we spend within our own communities, our lives would change drastically very fast.”
To keep up with Fletcher, follow him and his business pages on Instagram.