Stevenson Joseph knew this day would come. He recalled predicting to classmates at George Westinghouse High School that apps would become the wave of the future.
Today, 30-year-old Joseph is the CEO of Plucker LLC., a Brooklyn-based online food delivery service. Plucker is an acronym for people, love, unity, culture, kindness, embrace and relationships.
“I love technology, and honestly, I’m a big foodie. I love trying different foods from different cultures and taking pictures of food,” Joseph told BK Reader.
“So, I just built a company that connects people with food. It’s the first Black-owned food delivery service in New York.”
Black entrepreneurs are entering a $111.3 billion global online food industry that is dominated in the United States by mega companies like DoorDash and Grubhub.
In 2019, Black and Mobile became the first Black-owned food delivery service to join the field. The company launched in Philadelphia and has expanded into Detroit and Atlanta.
Joseph, a longtime Crown Heights resident, launched PluckerShop app in June – unintimidated by the industry’s major players.
“The big companies have a lot of hidden fees, and I like to be different,” he said about his strategy, hinting at a problem with how the dominant companies do business.
Indeed, the New York City Council passed legislation in May to cap how much third-party food delivery services could charge restaurants, which have long complained about the high fees that the companies charge.
Joseph said for him it wasn’t all about making a profit. Helping businesses and people living in his community was also important.
One of his business objectives is to assist the numerous small restaurants that have popped up in central Brooklyn to survive the pandemic and to thrive.
Since the launch, he’s been going door to door, introducing himself and Plucker to restaurant owners in central Brooklyn. In this ongoing process, Joseph has made it a point to reach out to Black-owned restaurants first.
In fact, his app includes a section named The Black Market.
“That’s where Black-owned businesses of any kind can place their products on PluckerShop,” he explained. “Also, Black-owned restaurants have a section for themselves too.”
In addition to helping Black businesses thrive, Joseph wants to inspire people to overcome adversity.
“Even if someone tells you no, get up in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you can win,” he said.
Reflecting on his journey, Joseph said creating an app to connect local restaurants with customers was no easy task. He loves technology, but his college degree is in business. To reach this point, he had to teach himself how to write computer code.
“That was very, very difficult for me,” he said, “but I love learning new and challenging things.”
The launch got off to a rocky start for Plucker. At the beginning of 2020, several team members had to leave the company after losing family members to COVID-19. Consequently, Joseph faced writing all the code alone, but he was not discouraged.
“I believe there’s a solution to every problem we’re facing in this world,” he said, sharing his optimistic approach to life. At this point, he has created three apps.
“I’m not stopping here. There are plenty more apps coming in 2021,” Joseph said, adding that he wants to keep information about those apps under wraps for now.
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