Hanging Out With Morgan DeBaun, CEO and Founder of Blavity

October 20, 2015 Startup Life

This Sunday we hung out with Morgan DeBaun, CEO and founder of Blavity. Morgan spoke about the origins of Blavity, what can be expected in the months ahead, and her journey as a black woman founder creating a platform for black millennials.

Here’s a brief recap of Sunday’s hangout. For full video scroll down to the end of this post.

On the start of Blavity

Blavity started as a video newsletter. Blavity would curate the videos appealing to black millennials and send them in a newsletter. After create a blog for the Blavity platform, Morgan noticed that their articles and posts received more hits and views then their video newsletter. They made the decision to then focus on creating custom content, articles and posts for their audience.

The symbolism behind Blavity

Morgan attended Washington University, a primarily white institution (PWI), for undergrad. During her time there, she was able to find support through organizations such as the Black Student Union, and other informal black communities that felt familial to her. Whether it was finding a spot at the “black lunch table” or attending black greek events. Her and her friends called these moments on campus ‘Black Gravity.’ Blavity (Black + Gravity) is a representation of those moments where as a community they were able to create a space for themselves and connect with each other in a comforting way.

On cultural differences between Silicon Valley and DC

In the bay, everyone is working on something. So, its not a big deal to meet someone and have a conversation about how they are building a $100million dollar company. DC is a lot different, and the cultural is obviously more influenced by politics. However, ultimately, the population of DC is more reflective of Blavity’s target audience.

On being a black female fundraising for a startup built for black millennials

Your parents are right, you have to be twice as good. Morgan anticipated a lack of understanding by mainly white VCs about the market and product vision of Blavity. Because of this, she spent extra time (more time than the normal startup) preparing and validating Blavity as a product before taking meetings with VCs.

Advice to young middle and high school students

Know that everything that you can consume (technology), you can create. Start now, start early. Your voice is important!

Blavity’s marketing strategy

Being authentic in your voice and tone is a huge factor in Blavity’s marketing strategy. Morgan has written user personas for the typical Blavity reader. When a new member of the team starts at Blavity, they are required to read and understand these personas. This is important for the team as they are creating content, they know and understand who they speaking to. Blavity also has a strong culture of supporting and promoting others (ie small businesses, creators, artists) through their platform. This has works as a strategy because now others view Blavity as a curation platform and come back knowing they will discover new businesses, artists, and others that are featured on their platform.

Blavity’s technology

Currently, Blavity runs on a wordpress platform. The team is currently in the process of moving away from wordpress and building out their own platform. They also anticipate having a mobile app available soon.

Joining the Blavity Team

Blavity is very responsive to those who are interested in writing on their platform. They also run internships every academic semester. Interns work on small teams led by more experienced team members. Blavity’s biggest need right now is a person to head up partnerships. The ideal candidate will have existing connections to brands and will be responsible to finding and maintaining relationships with business partners. Blavity is also looking for a full stack and ios developer. All inquiries about joining the Blavity team should be sent to team@blavity.com

Hangout Video