Vital Stats: Brett Wright, 37, of Nu America Agency
Company: New York City advertising,marketing and promotion agency focusing on the urban market
2006 Projected Sales: $7 million
Life-Changing Leap: The decision to leave his comfortable job as a music industry exec to start his own business was a heavy one for Wright, who at the time had a new house and a pregnant wife to support. But not taking therisk just didn't fit with his personality. Says Wright, "I'm not the type of person who does well when I can't touch things and mold them on a daily basis."
Urban Development: In 2001, Wright co-founded Nu America with another music impresario, Andre Harrell, 45. The timing couldn't have been better: Record companies were struggling to market their artists; meanwhile, corporate America wanted to make its brands hip. Using their talent relationships and understanding of hip-hop and youth culture, the partners created a compelling proposition for clients like Pepsi and AlizÃ© that wanted to target this market while upping the cool factor of their products.
New Attitude: Eschewing the kinds of street teams and promotional tactics heavily used by its competitors, Nu America creates a custom program for each client and brings in specialists on a project-by-project basis. Wright's firm also does the promotional "grunt work" larger agencies shy away from, such as contests and product giveaways. It's a successful approach: "We built a service that gets products in the hands of the appropriate consumers."
Driven To Succeed: Nu America isn't Wright's sole focus--an innovator at heart, he's actively exploring other ventures. In 2004, Wright and another partner launched Uptown, a regional lifestyle magazine targeting affluent blacks ages 25 to 44. Separately, Wright also launched Harlem Wing & Waffle with two other partners. Nu America designed the logo and promotional materials for the restaurant chain. As Wright says, "My motivation is that every day is a new challenge, and that's very exciting."