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Startup Contest Lands Florida Couple $25,000 from Microsoft

Photo by 金 运 on Unsplash

Zebrina Edgerton-Maloy and Imani Lee, a couple from Tampa, Florida, began the startup Black Stock Footage. The startup recently walked away with $25,000 in Microsoft startup competition, according to The Miami Herald.

Black Stock Footage is a tech startup with a mission “to amplify Black representation in digital media,” per the company’s website. The stock video platform focuses 100% on Black representation.

The company’s GoFundMe page announced that Lee had won a $25,000 prize. Lee won first place in the Endeavor Miami Pitch Competition for Black-owned startups. Because of this, Black Stock Footage decreased its campaign goal from $75,000 to $50,000.

“We’re one giant step closer to building our beta stock footage platform that will make it easier for video content creators to include Black representation in their video projects,” the startup website announced.

High School Sweethearts Create Startup

Lee and Edgerton-Maloy are high school sweethearts who have been celebrating a decade’s-worth of milestones together, including the launch of this startup.

“We want to make a difference with this startup platform,” said Edgerton-Maloy, co-founder and chief communications officer.

Edgerton-Maloy, a Miami native, discovered the competition which at first her fiancé was hesitant about entering, reports Bay News 9.

“I listened to her and I’m so thankful for Zebrina!,” said Lee, co-founder and CEO.

Microsoft Buys into Idea

Microsoft liked Black Stock Footage’s idea to address the demand for stock footage of black people in everyday life circumstances.

Finding stock visuals portraying Black consumers and community members in everyday activities can be difficult. With that need in mind, the three judges selected Black Stock Footage as the winner of Endeavor Miami’s first startup pitch competition for Black entrepreneurs.

Lee received $25,000 in non-diluted cash, plus $25,000 worth of credits to utilize Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.

Startup Chance to be Endeavor Entrepreneur

Lee also gets the chance to become an Endeavor Entrepreneur when Black Stock Footage qualifies. The founders say that the funds would go toward getting the platform — which offers members access to unlimited downloads of video clips showcasing “the variety of hues, cultures, phenotypes, and activities of Black people” — up and running.

Startup Contest
Image credit: Piqsels

“It helps people learn about the black startup community,” Lee said. “It also provides a service that can be used by anyone and everyone in the video or content creation process.”

Lee says he realized where they were lacking when clients were requesting more black people in their projects. Lee says that Black representation in stock footage is limited and fails to represent the full diverse scope of the Black/African diaspora.

“Right now, you have to type in ‘Black’ — but ‘Black’ is so encompassing, it’s such a general term,” Lee told the Herald. “I may be looking for a Black person but someone who lives in Asia, and that’s completely different than an African-American.”

“We want to showcase it all,” he said. “Some beautiful images of a black family.”

“There are a lot of assumptions of what Black people look like; what Black people wear,” he said. “Part of our startup initiative is for Black Stock Footage to break down those assumptions.”

Black Stock Footage plans to officially launch fall 2021. The company is looking to hire and expand.

Judge Impressed

Competition judge Marcell Haywood commented that Lee’s passion and drive to create a product that addresses racial inequities stood out. Haywood is founder and CEO of facilities services provider Encompass Onsite and an Endeavor Entrepreneur.

“He’s working on something that can be very meaningful in the world,” Haywood said. “It’s very rare that you have a market opportunity that also positively impacts and helps the world on a problem that needs help solving. He’s got the tiger by the tail and is building a business that is going to help the world be a better version of itself.”

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