1. How did you get where you are?
Rory: My educational background is broadcast journalism, political science, and English. I intended to leave and do sports television, and I wanted to really work for ESPN. My first job out of college was working at a CBS operated and owned a station in Miami. I worked the morning show from 11pm-7 or 9 am. Work was a rush. I moved around a lot. Emotionally and mentally it was not the greatest fit. Work life personal life balance was not there because I had many friends in Miami but I wasn’t able to see them because I had to sleep during the day and work during the night. I wanted to put a positive spin on life, so I worked at Habitat for Humanity on weekends. I really enjoyed it. I learned about folks less fortunate than myself. Someone from Habitat suggested that I go to the Peace Corps.
I went to the Peace Corps in Madagascar for three years, and it was awesome. This is where I fell in love with bikes. Most people used bikes in Madagascar because transportation is expensive and not that great in Madagascar. Biking was a forward and equitable way to move in Madagascar. I never really was into biking before, but now I got really into it.
After the Peace Corps, I worked in a fellowship called Challenge Detroit, and it was a great experience. During my fellowship, I attended a panel discussion on transportation and Lisa Nuszkowski (CEO and founder of MoGo) was on it. I hounded Lisa to get a job because I was really interested in MoGo. I applied to MoGo three times and got in on the third try. I left my fellowship on August of 2016 because the fellowship didn’t focus enough as much as I would have liked on community development and social impact. I started working for MoGo in February 2017, and I love it.
2. What is a hurdle that you have overcome?
Rory: Unemployment was fairly difficult. I thought I would be able to get a job after leaving my fellowship. I could not get a response from anyone. I sent out 25-30 applications and cover letters in a span of 6 months. I got very distinct “leave me alone”. I thought I had the credentials, but it was very difficult.
3. How do you describe social entrepreneurship?
Rory: A business that boosts or helps the community. It’s not sole-serving. It’s for the betterment for a group of people. You make money yourself but you are also helping other people as well, whether it’s putting money in someone else’s pocket or providing a service like MoGo. It’s business for the betterment of the community.
4. Why did you choose to live in Detroit?
Rory: The city is very unique. I am from Michigan, near Detroit. I lived in Miami for six years, and people in Miami are not as kind and genuine compared to people in Detroit. In Detroit, everyone is looking after each other, and they are very kind. There is more of a sense of community than you have seen anywhere else. There is a great vibe and culture here. Detroiters don’t really label Detroit as a revitalization like the media and press often does. People are just trying to do things that are cool and exciting and would address a need or want. In Detroit it is possible. You can be involved in so much stuff in Detroit. There is a real social impact culture. You can make an impact if you make an effort. You shape how people live through your work.
5. What’s the best part of working with MoGo?
Rory: I am part of a start-up culture. I am doing something that has never been done before in Detroit. It’s an opportunity to build something from scratch, and that is something I have always wanted to do. It’s rewarding and stressful at same time. There is stigma that a bike is a poor man’s transportation device. I don’t see that. I want to give people the choice of whether to ride a bike or drive car. I want to give wide options of on-demand transportation to a wide range of people. I love biking, so getting more people involved in biking is awesome.
Also, the people. Lisa is amazing. She’s been here a long time and knows the city really well. Adriel is also from Detroit and is really amazing as well.