Detroit Nation

A Community of Detroit Ex-pats and Detroiters

DRIVE Testimonials

Social Sushi’s participation in DRIVE


Photo courtesy of RamzPhotography/ Ed Ramirez

by Jay Rayford, Social Sushi’s founder and CEO

My goal going into the DRIVE session with Columbia Business School and Detroit Nation was to make sense of a concept in which I wanted to embark. Social Sushi started simply as a networking event that brought people from various professional backgrounds together to meet with the common love of sushi as the ploy. We hosted events at different establishments across the city every month and proceeds went to local community projects. What we noticed was that we were on to something. First, there are no stand alone sushi lounges in downtown Detroit at this time. Secondly, we found that the sauce that we created for our sushi was gaining a cult following!

So what we were looking at was a way to start a catering service that had the ability to promote to a diverse group of people. Along with doing fundraising events, we’d be able to cater large corporate events or conferences as well. Some of the suggestions by the CBS students really had me wrecking my brain to really see how we could use our strengths better that could also be profitable. One of the strongest suggestions was that we had the ability to get people out to events. They suggested that we look at that and how we can make that work for us.

jay testimony

And voila, we have come to the conclusion that we have the perfect ingredients for success. So, rather than go through the tedious and expensive process of getting a catering license. We’ve decided to work with our mentor who is a sushi restaurateur and owns a catering business. We’re calling Social Sushi a ‘social catering’ project or experience. We now have the ability to service small and large events using his services and we’ll pair our skills in event planning and social media outreach.

Now we have a simple formula that works in every way to make sure that our mission of exposing people to new places/events while giving them the ability to have fun and enjoy great food is also, without being intrusive, their simple way of giving back!

If it weren’t for the excellent feedback that I got from my Detroit Nation session with Columbia Business School, it may have took me a long time to drill down on my focus and see clearly how we could be effective in a way that benefits everyone. I’m truly honored to have been chosen for this project and can assure that anyone that comes after me will see a transformation happen with their companies and/or projects that will be magnificent and worthwhile! For those interested in volunteering, I’m not sure that there is any better way to have direct impact on small businesses here in the City of Detroit. There is a saying I love: “Detroit is big enough to matter to the world yet small enough for you to matter in it.” Our generation is all about having an impact. Here’s your chance.