Our Diverse Web3 Builders series features Black, Latinx, and Women founders who are creating startups in the web3 sector. Today we bring you our conversation with Blake Stoner of Vngle, a grassroots news agency. The name Vngle stands for various angles, and their goal is to bring all sides of a story to light.
Blake grew up in Atlanta and was exposed to grassroots organizations early in life. His grandfather was a Freedom Rider in the 1960s, and he was taught about civic engagement as a kid. Blake attended Morehouse College, where he studied economics. During this time, he got interested in journalism and wanted to bring stories from overlooked communities to a wider audience. He wrote this up as his application to the Columbia University masters program in communication and was accepted. This later became the business plan for his startup Vngle. Blake’s business idea got recognized as a great one, and he has participated in several fellowships that have supported him including Starling Lab (from Stanford and USC), Columbia University’s Brown Institute, and the Knight Foundation.
Blake took the first steps to getting Vngle off the starting block when he traveled to Ferguson, Missouri following the 2014 killing of Michael Brown Jr. He felt the stories on the ground were being ignored by the mainstream media, and he had the right idea to make a better news agency.
As a web3 podcast, we needed to bring that angle to this story about Blake. He was exposed to blockchain through working during undergrad at Storj, a decentralized cloud leader based in Atlanta. He saw the power of onchain activity and felt this could be used to provide verification of grassroots journalists and their stories. Vngle was ready to roll.
Vngle is built to be the hyper local grassroots news agency. They compete with Associated Press and Reuters to sell video and written stories to news organizations. Vngle has people on the ground that are working in communities that AP and Reuters do not invest in. They work with grassroots reporters across America that are passionate about sharing the latest on their geographic areas.
On this podcast, Blake discusses a major project the company is currently focused on to highlight healthcare disparities in the State of Georgia. Vngle has created hundreds of pieces of news content, which you might have seen through your local news broadcast or website. You also could have seen Blake at the Atlanta Web3 Expo event last month, where Vngle was selected as the most promising startup at the pitch competition.
If you are inspired by Blake’s story, he would love to connect with you. He is looking for people passionate to help tell stories in underserved communities, so please reach out if you want to work in this area. If you are involved with a news organization that might be interested in using Vngle’s content, please get in touch. You can watch the video interview here. You can also listen to the audio version on Apple, Spotify, or our website.
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