Dayton company acquires black media app startup

Dayton-based National Black Business Directory (NBBD) recently announced its acquisition of BLVCK, an app that pulls together top news from 13 prominent media outlets that serve the black community.

The app, created in Texas by self-taught developer and family man Eric Townsend, hit #27 in the Apple App Store’s news category rankings a mere two days after it launched. It now boasts 10K+ users.

The acquisition wraps up a year of exciting new partnerships, and sets the stage for the National Black Business Directory’s 2019 goals, founder and CEO Nate Dillard said.

NBBD is a business development platform that seeks to “improve the economic and social status of the black community” by empowering black businesses, according to its mission statement. The organization offers services ranging from business plan assistance to web development to black founders and business owners.

In its quest to become the “official online networking platform for Black Business Excellence,” the organization also has a media arm — which is where BLVCK comes in, Nate said.

“A media app fits perfectly in our platform,” Nate said. “Our community wants positive news out there.”

This desire to source positive news stories from within the black community is the same motivation that drove Eric to build the app in the first place, he told Launch DFW’s startup blog last year. Main stream coverage of tragedies within the community pushed members to be more informed than ever — but not just about the negatives, he said.

Among the more than a dozen black news outlets that the BLVCK app consolidates for users are BET, Ebony Magazine, The Root and Blavity. Eric also built a discussion platform into the app so users can connect around the stories they’re reading.

Based on the headline clicks and chats generated around particular stories, Eric can see that users are hungry for “intellectual and uplifting content,” Nate said. NBBD will use the app to tell the stories of black professionals, philanthropists and entrepreneurs “doing really positive things,” he added.

This focus for the app helped Nate beat out other offers from entities that saw it as a potential gossip outlet, he said. He initially reached out to Eric to propose a partnership before ultimately pulling together investors, and a few of his own dollars, to make the cash offer. FJS Capital Management, the finance arm of NBBD, managed the acquisition, he said.

“It’s hard to let it go, but I can’t wait to see what’s in the future for BLVCK under new leadership,” Eric said in a press release.

Closing on the deal is a great way to close out 2018, a year that also saw NBBD partner with Tech Stars to help them increase the diversity and inclusion on their programs, Nate said.

In 2019, look for the facelift of BLVCK — Nate is inspired by what Bloomberg has done in merging business news media with business services — as well as news from $GUAP Coin, NBBD’s black women-owned cryptocurrency partner, he said.

For more information on the National Black Business Directory, visit them here.

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