Black millennials are tech savvy, influential and spending about a $162 billion a year, according to a 2016 Nielsen study. And yet, black people are incredibly underrepresented in tech and media. Enter Blavity, a digital lifestyle brand for millennials of color. It started in 2014 and raised $6.5 million in venture funding earlier this year. Blavity's founders say its advantage is its community members who pay to attend to events, and companies will pay to interact with them. Jeff Nelson is a co-founder and chief technical officer at Blavity. Marketplace Tech’s Molly Wood met him last week at one the company's events, the AfroTech conference in San Francisco, which was born out of Blavity's tech news site. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Jeff Nelson: What's unique about our business model is this combination of digital and in-person experiences. And that allows us to have such deep engagement from our audience that other platforms just don't have. When you've just got a website, that website could be the flavor of the month or the flavor of the year, but if something new comes along, then those readers go away. For our audience, it's so much more than just the website. It's so much more than just the social channels. It's also those in-person events as well. So that combination I think really gives us a competitive advantage.