Tampa startup, Black Stock Footage, wins Florida pitch competition

Last year, Black Stock Footage co-Founders Imani Lee, a video storyteller, and Zebrina Edgerton-Maloy, a  wordsmith and image maker, envisioned the idea of creating an online platform for video creators that would be 100% focused on Black representation. 

The idea emerged as all the events around Black Lives Matter unfolded and Lee’s clients began requesting more Black representation in their video projects. When Lee searched multiple stock footage platforms, he quickly recognized a problem: A substantial lack of stock footage depicting Blacks in ordinary, real life circumstances. Not only was there no one-stop shop for such content, but piecing it together was a challenge. He started mulling it over with Edgerton-Maloy, his fiance, and they came up with the solution: Create a new platform designed to provide the kind of footage that was lacking. 

They took that notion and ran with it.

By June 30, 2021, Lee stood virtually in front of a panel of judges and other Black-led, early-stage, Florida-grown, industry-agnostic entrepreneurs to pitch their company in the first statewide Endeavor Pitch Competition, a collaboration led by Endeavor Miami, Microsoft for Startups, and The Miami Herald.

The judges, Herald Business Editor Jane Wooldridge, Microsoft for Startup’s Americas Managing Director Mariano Amartino, and Endeavor Entrepreneur Marcell Haywood, listened to pitches from 10 startups chosen for the competition before picking Black Stock Footage to win the $25,000 top prize, which will go toward building a beta platform.

Creating supply, responding to demand 

In the meantime, Lee and Edgerton-Maloy have created a GoFundMe campaign in which they are seeking additional funding to actively recruit videographers. They plan to officially launch their company in Fall 2021. 

“The first two, when they went ahead of me in terms of pitching, I was like, ‘Man, they have great ideas. Hopefully I can measure up.’ And then I just let my passion go. Zebrina was helping me train for the past few days, going over the script. I think teamwork really helped us stand out,” Lee says.

Black Stock Footage’s strategy for success involves both supplying content and distributing video to meet demand. They are now identifying independent videographer contractors located throughout the country to supply the content and signing up subscribers/customers, i.e. video content creators, designers, marketing agencies, media outlets, etc., who need the video clips.

Knowing that a lot of large agencies already have their own video production teams, they’re primarily targeting small to mid-size companies. While Tampa Bay-based, the co-Founders are striving to become a national company and become the number one stock platform for Black representation.

Both Miami natives, Lee and Edgerton-Maloy entered the pitch competition after Edgerton-Maloy read about it in the Miami Herald. Within a few days, they applied. Soon their application was accepted, they went through initial interviews, and they were granted a spot in the competition in which Imani presented the idea and vision for Black Stock Footage. 

“It was exhilarating, virtually standing in front of all the other companies pitching to the panel of judges whom I’ve never met before and had no connection to,” Lee says. “I wanted the judges to feel my passion for this, being not only a product, but a cause, why we’re doing this. I wanted to deliver that, and it came through.” 

“We kept thinking ‘What if? What if we got the 25,000 dollars, what if this happens?’ and that was a big driver. That so many more people will know not only the problem, but that there’s a solution coming to the table,” Edgerton-Maloy says. “We’re just so thankful that we’re already seeing the fruit of our labor. …

"I have a deep love for storytelling, and what I’m excited about is that through this platform, I’ll be able to have a positive impact on Black communities and be able to share those impactful stories, the everyday experiences of Black people across the world,'' she continues. "Because there’s such a large amount of stories and experiences to explore, it’s just exciting to be able to know that we will be able to see things and film things, showcasing what isn’t necessarily common to see in digital media.”

Setting goals, realistic expectations

They’re not looking to take over or replace other competitors. They just want to be a complimentary tool in every creator’s toolbox so that when they’re looking for Black representation, they know where to go. Currently focused on building their team of about 25 videographers and launching the platform, they hope that in the long-run, they will be able to partner with various organizations to gain more outreach. 

Lee and Edgerton-Maloy emphasize that Black Stock Footage is a social impact driven company, so there are three things they’re looking to accomplish: 
  • One, the product will help dispel cultural biases about what black representation looks like in terms of hue phenotype experiences.
  • Two, the product will help empower people with visual imagery that showcases more Black representation in everyday activities, jobs, experiences, etc. 
  • And third, the goal is to create better access and create a large-scale platform that enables visibility of Black representation.
“The more we know, the more sensitive we can become to other people’s experiences, and this opens the door for, maybe in the future, other competitors to pop up with special niches, and all together we’re increasing representation in our own capacity,” Lee says. “I think it’s a step in the right direction and will open up doors for other companies who want to do something for their specific culture, or their specific ethnicity and community.” 

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Read more articles by Lauren Wong.

Lauren Wong is a graduate of the University of Tampa with a degree in journalism who is freelancing while she looks for a full-time job. Originally from the Chicago area, she enjoys travel and aspires to be a travel photojournalist. During the summer of 2019, she worked for Premier Travel Media in Chicago and as a correspondent for Input Fort Wayne, another Issue Media group online magazine based in Indiana. She loves spending time outdoors camping, kayaking, and taking pictures.