Featured Startup: BLVCK
Founder: Eric Townsend
Neighborhood: Oak Lawn/ Uptown area
What was the inspiration to start BLVCK?
BLVCK started out as a “see a need, fill a need” project. I was talking with some friends in our slack chat and the question came up about apps for black news and the best place to see this sort of news from multiple sources all in one place. After a brief browse of the internet and the app store, we determined that there was no such offering. I do weekend hackathons where I try to create something in one or two days, so I decide to hack together a news app for the black community. It took me eight hours until the version one project was complete and it was in the app store within the next day. This was three weeks ago, on July 28th so you can tell how fast things have been moving.
What is your background? First startup? Or serial entrepreneur?
My background is sort of sketchy in my opinion. I have experience in a variety of industries and I graduated in 2014 with a Masters Degree in Finance that it seems I’ll never use. I got into tech because I had an idea for a startup, tried to outsource the work and got my money stolen by a developer in Russia. This forced me to try and develop the product on my own, and I learned how to code by watching a variety of online videos and tutorials. My first startup was Koncrete, which didn’t take off because of the critical mass needed to be viable was to high. BLVCK didn’t start off as a startup idea but it certainly turned into one.
What makes BLVCK an innovative offering in the digital media space?
BLVCK is entering the market at a time when African Americans are looking to be more informed than ever about what’s happening around them. A series of tragedies has unfortunately pushed us into this need, but the news they are seeking out doesn’t have to be all about negative situations. BLVCK might seem like just a news application right now, but the plan is to expand this into a platform that allows blacks in America to discuss issues together and creatively bring about solutions to problems, support and help one another and much more.
What can we expect to see from BLVCK over the next 24 months?
Over the next two years, BLVCK will transform into a sort of “search engine” for the black community. The “centralized news hub” will be morphed into a “centralized place for African Americans to flourish” in a sense. I say that without wanting to give too much away of our “master plan”.
What does BLVCK need right now to be successful?
Right now, we would love a strategic investor to help us grow at a quicker rate and get on to more mobile devices. We are growing at a rate of about 100 downloads a day without any marketing, so funding right now would mostly be used to hire more talent to help me build out the platform on Android and iOS.
Your thoughts on the DFW startup scene?
I have been a very active member of the DFW startup scene. I love the way that we all share experiences, opportunities, and sometimes failures with each other that ultimately end up being very helpful for those wanting to learn. I think the companies on the scene right now are innovative and are well equipped to help Dallas become the next startup hotbed.
Anything else our readers should know?
We are a very open community here at BLVCK. We want to talk to everyone that is interested in helping us grow. We’re taking all suggestions on how we can improve; we love to hear what people want to see next. And for all those waiting on the Android version, we promise it’s coming soon!