Hi everyone! My name is Raphael T. Harlan and I am the owner and founder of the online diabetic donut company called Raphael’s Donuts. For those who have recently learn or are starting to learn about Raphael’s Donuts as both a business and product (and those who have known Raphael’s Donuts as long as we’ve been in business), Raphael’s Donuts is the world’s only online company in history for low glycemic low sugar, low carb donuts baked in gluten free (chickpea) and whole wheat flour versions in 11 flavors, including 9 vegan flavors. We use organic agave nectar, xylitol, herbal teas, fruit juices, chia, hemp, and flax seeds in our donuts. No gmos, nuts, eggs, dairy, honey, or refined ingredients are used in them.
We’ve been in business since May 2014, our first month of business after I came up with the idea in Fall 2013 out of my long passion of healthy baking, donuts, and mainly, the inspiration from my late adoptive mother, Cora Lee Harlan, who was a long time type 2 diabetic throughout her 75 year old life before passing away in December 2011. After people test-tasted them and they loved them, with $600 of my own money, I launched Raphael’s Donuts as a farm market booth in May 2014, directly selling them in Flint and Grand Blanc farm markets and local vendor shows in mostly the Genesee County, Michigan area. In two occasions, our gluten free diabetic donuts were sold at Dale’s Natural Foods, a health food store in Flint Township.
People loved the donuts especially diabetics, gluten free people, and vegans and they still do. But the local market of my customers were limited when it comes to who’s eating them regularly. We found out that the market of who’d eat our kind of donuts are scattered in the United States. Because we didn’t have enough sales to keep operating in a commercial scale, we changed the sales strategy to running the company as a online home delivery service, (which people order via message on Raphael’s Donuts to have us deliver them by car to their homes within 70 miles of Flint) in November 2015. After that went a bit successfully through the first seven months, selling 11 dozen a month (November was most successful month with 23 dozen sold; May was successful with 9 customers), we entered the Fedex Small Business Contest, an annual nationwide business grant contest which all small businesses in U.S entered to win $25,000, $15,000, or $7500.
Though we didn’t get chosen as one of the top 10 business winners, we got more positive exposure from people in other states, like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, North Carolina, Florida, and California, for creating the donut company for those in low-glycemic, gluten free and vegan diets. Because of the Fedex business grant contest, the demand for our donuts in households has increased ten to hundred fold.
So far so that I launched the Raphael’s Donuts mail order website and service which is on: https://squareup.com/store/raphaels-donuts and we have $250 in sales over one month from June to now.
Now we are in desperate need of your help to not just grow our online mail order business when it comes to customer base but to get to a few events as we have been inquired by a few people about wanting us to participate in them!!!!
Our challenge of getting more online customers is our marketing dollars! We have a limited marketing budget on $5-10 a month just on targeted facebook ads. Since we are on Twitter and Instagram also, we definitely need $400 to spend on social media marketing, which is our plan to spend each month to increase customers and sales. Currently our facebook advertising plan is posting on our facebook page and then sharing our website through 1,100 facebook groups that I’m on, which 5-10% of the people see it. If we put more money on targeted fb ads, more people will see it frequently especially on Thursdays and that means more online orders that we can bake to ship frozen to our customers.
Other areas where the money donated will go towards: shipping materials in bulk, ingredients in bulk as we are going to have all eleven flavors of our diabetic donuts baked vegan especially now that we have found the perfect nut free dairy free milk for our donuts: flax seed milk, wages to pay our drivers for local home delivery. If our goal is exceeded, the extra money will go towards renting a new commercial kitchen ($425-525 a month, would like to pay 2-4 months in advance for kitchen rental), renewing our wholesaling license ($110 a year) so we can wholesale our donuts to local stores that are still interested in carrying our donuts, filing a LLC and food liability insurance ($350 a year), packaging and labeling ($500). Of course to get the Raphael’s Donuts’ own domain through square which our website is built through ($12 a year). Also back to the ingredients: if the goal is exceeded, the money will be used to replace xylitol with stevia as the main sweetener for the glazes that are normally made with xylitol! Plus if we find a gallon of liquid stevia that are available online, we will be using it to replace 25% of the amount of agave nectar we normally use in the batters of all donut flavors!
Roughly we would need $3000, but we’d like at least $1,000 raised in three to four weeks’ time so we can fulfill orders in the mail order and local delivery side of the business in terms of gas money and wages to pay our drivers. GoFundme is perfect for our capital raising effort for our expansion.
About Project Creator:
Raphael T. Harlan is a business-minded, people-minded, God-minded Detroit native and a Flint resident who has always been a healthnut — not just a healthnut but a Cub healthnut — a mature young person who is attracted to much older ladies and still bakes healthy desserts and baking! Always self-taught since the age of 16 growing up in his ranch style home with his adoptive diabetic mom, Cora Lee Harlan, he always had a knack in providing middle and elderly aged friends with his sweet treats, even since moving to Flint,
Michigan in September 2010. But on December 12, 2011 while working in his former office job at University of Michigan-Flint, he got a phone call from his second-younger sister in Tennessee that Mom passed away of kidney disease. Not only he was shocked, but he was shortly saddened — all because she was his best friend — the one that take him for the kind of person he was — an inspiration for all who comes in his path. “A thought would come almost 24 months later when it comes to one thing: Cora always loved eating her sweets especially diabetic treats, how come no one in her lifestyle was able to create a low glycemic low carb donut for diabetics?” That thought took him back in his imagination, and all of the years growing up around those who had type 2 diabetes and those in older-younger relationships boosted his baking passion in another level, that America definitely needed a revolutionary donut product that brings both diabetics and people in our diets. For the next five months, he analyzed the market and perfected his donut recipes that came from his imagination that were different in flavor than any other traditional donut company in history, flavors like Chocolate Paprika, Agave Cinnamon Spiced, and Blueberry Cake. He had people test-tasted them from co-workers, college classmates, and church members and the enjoyment of the donuts were skyhigh. After did that, he invented and launched Raphael’s Donuts, the world’s first diabetic donut company in history in May 2014! Knowing women very well as both friends and his potential cougar girlfriends, he knew that not only they could enjoy our donuts but he wanted people of all adult and child ages to enjoy them on a GLOBAL scale!!!
Link to the Project: