February 2, 2017
Voqal recently released its first-ever annual report and is featuring some of the stories from the report on our blog. To read more download Voqal’s Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Report: Taking Risks.
Voqal Fund’s early support of New Media Ventures (NMV) is another example of risk taking. NMV is a first of its kind network of angel investors supporting media and tech startups that catalyze progressive change. NMV has been at this since 2010. Voqal provided start-up funding and has supported them all along the way. (Voqal President, John Schwartz is a founding steering committee member.) Since its inception, NMV and its investor network have invested over $7 million in 32 media and technology startups.
Since its inception, NMV and its investor network have invested over $7 million in 32 media and technology startups. Through one such startup, Blavity, NMV is trying to amplify the voices of underserved communities and create a more equitable society.
Blavity’s CEO Morgan DeBaun is a first-time founder who had made the rounds pitching the digital community startup to various venture capitalists only to be turned away. New Media Ventures, with the Voqal Fund’s support, was willing to take a risk where others wouldn’t.
“NMV was Blavity’s first money in and it was incredibly helpful to have them as a thought partner during Blavity’s early days,” said Morgan. “As a first-time entrepreneur, I didn’t have access to a strong network in Silicon Valley and NMV’s guidance was critical to helping me raise our first round of funding and build a smart, defensible business.”
NMV’s support of Blavity ensured Morgan was able to serve an underserved community, amplify underrepresented views and perspectives into the mainstream and create a more positive narrative around people of color focused on the belief that “if you can change the way people view the world, you can transform it.”
Not only was NMV support vital to Blavity’s early success, but its leadership also led to further investments from The Knight Foundation and several individual NMV investors. The Blavity story represents the NMV model at its best — it put in the initial capital, oversaw the investment of follow-on financing and inspired new funders to consider impact investing as a tool in their toolbox for catalyzing progressive change. And now Blavity is one of the largest digital communities of diverse millennials in the U.S., reaching over 3 million individuals a month.
Through the Voqal Fund we are proud to support disruptors like New Media Ventures and believe their work is vital to making sure we have an educated and informed public. Read more about the Voqal Fund and its grantees here.