From selling Kool-Aid candy concoctions in school to having investing competitions with her dad at a young age, co-founder and CEO of Blavity Inc., Morgan DeBaun has always been a hustler. Recently, the St. Louis native took hustling to the next level by raising $6.5 million dollars in funding. And with the completion of this Series A funding round, DeBaun is breaking records of her own. The 28-year-old has officially secured the most funding of any black female founder in 2018!
According to the press release, Blavity will use the $6.5 million "to accelerate its mission to become the global media and tech company for a new generation of Black Americans, powering inspirational stories, smart news, events across lifestyle categories and developing new platforms." The media powerhouse is doing it for the culture and will be backed by GV (formerly Google Ventures) with participation from new investors Comcast Ventures, Plexo Capital, and Baron Davis Enterprises.
DeBaun, a graduate of Washington University, says she coined the term "Blavity" while in college. If you've attended a PWI, then you already know how it goes down in the cafeteria. DeBaun says that she came up with the name by melding together the words "Black" and "gravity" to signify the convergence of black students to the same table every day where they ate together and discussed everything from the day's hot topics to more serious matters that affected the black community as a whole. From there, alongside co-founders Aaron Samuels, Jonathan Jackson, and Jeff Nelson, Blavity aims to be the "digital voice of black millenials."
While it's only taken the Blavity team roughly four years since its launch to achieve this major milestone, DeBaun's entrepreneurial mission is the perfect example of filling a void in the market to the tune of major success. She told Forbes that she is committed to "creating, developing and challenging new ideas that will truly drive the culture forward." In addition to feeding the culture with relevant and thought-provoking content, the media mogul was able to capitalize on the demands of an underserved market. She says:
"Digital media is at turning point. Niche communities are becoming the majority and multi-billion dollar media brands built in collaboration with creators will evolve into market leaders seemingly overnight. Blavity's success was accelerated by empowering a young and growing underserved market of consumers often overlooked by Silicon Valley and traditional media outlets."
In today's media landscape, it's almost impossible to avoid the random ridiculousness that sometimes overloads our timelines. While every once in a while it's fun to consume, it doesn't exactly feed your soul or teach you anything new. DeBaun doesn't consider these types of sites as being the real definition of "entrepreneurial." Instead of resorting to clickbait, Blavity focuses on the needs and of its audience and provides content that will resonate with them. She believes that one of the major keys to being an entrepreneur is the ability to improve other people's lives. She tells The BIZZ Plan that a true entrepreneur isn't in the business of twerk videos:
"If I really wanted to make money, I would make a website that has the best twerk videos...easy. We would have millions of hits every single day. That's not what I wanted to do, and I don't think that that's the mission behind entrepreneurship and innovation. It's to improve people's lives, it's to make things more seamless, and it's to push the boundaries of what already exists today."
When you think of the tech industry, you might immediately think of the Steve Jobs's and the Jeff Bezos's: white men, for lack of better terms. DeBaun is on a mission to not only change the existing old-boys club of Silicon Valley, but to enhance it by proving that our stories and our technology is just as valid as the rest. Representation is so vital in all fields, especially in those where the glass ceiling seems to very high. DeBaun uses her platform to uplift her community, and at the same time, she is showing other black women and girls that there is a place for them at the table, too. She recognizes this opportunity to be the first, and is ready to make a difference. She says:
"As a black woman in the technology industry and in Silicon Valley...I'm a double minority. There's not a lot of women, and there not a lot of black people. It's been interesting, it's also been kind of fun because I have a chance to make a difference, and I have a chance to be one of the first."
In a letter to her staff revealing the Series A funding, DeBaun make the mission clear. As we step further into this technological age, more and more founders should take a cue from DeBaun and recognize the opportunity to engage the community with empowering content while, at the same time, remaining humble and working with the utmost integrity.
"Keep building the Black media and tech company of the future, one built powered by community, culture and real stories. Keep working hard. Keep surprising yourself and being curious. Stay humble and continue to work with integrity as we innovate for our community."
DeBaun is yet another success story that can use to motivate you towards the pursuit of your own dreams. When another black woman wins, we all do!
Featured image via Morgan DeBaun/WorkSmart