Celebrating Black History Month by Showcasing Extraordinary Businesses, Entrepreneurs

Black History Month is a time to recognize and celebrate the incredible ongoing achievements of African Americans. Countless black entrepreneurs and innovators are breaking boundaries, creating new markets, and building businesses that are transforming society and the world as we know it.

Here are three amazing businesses led by African American entrepreneurs that Valassis would like to recognize and applaud during Black History Month:

1. Translation

Launched by former record executive Steve Stoute in 2004, Translation is an ad agency that has worked with an incredibly diverse and impressive range of clients, including Apple Music, Budweiser, Jeep, State Farm, and the NBA.

The key to Translation’s success can be found in the agency’s name. Stoute and his team effectively translate clients’ needs into culturally relevant content that connects with consumers. Translation doesn’t just create traditional advertisements. It also produces music festivals, television shows, full-length films, and more.

In 2017, investors gave Stoute $70 million to launch UnitedMasters, Translation’s full-service music marketing wing. This venture connects independent musicians with big brands seeking partnerships with emerging artists — a win-win scenario for all parties that allows the artists to maintain ownership of their music. Translation CMO Chaucer Barnes, a rapper turned media maven, plays a pivotal role in crafting the stories and audiences that lead to successful collaborations.

2. Localeur 

Joah Spearman understands that modern consumers want to support local businesses. That’s why, in 2013, he set out to revolutionize the travel app industry by launching Localeur. He believed platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor were inundated with inauthentic reviews, so his app relies on locals to provide reviews and recommendations for businesses and other attractions in the cities they call home.

Since launching in Austin, Texas, Localeur has spread to more than 100 cities across the globe and has formed partnerships with companies such as Google and JetBlue. As a result, Spearman’s success story has received considerable media attention. He and his product have been recognized on the “Today” show and in publications like The Washington Post, The Guardian, and Time magazine.

3. PlayVS

It’s no secret that the video game and esports industries have been booming for years. However, only recently has the world begun to understand how esports can help young people build vital life skills and even provide a legitimate career path. 

Entrepreneur Delane Parnell was quick to connect these dots and built a tech company called PlayVS. With the help of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which formed an exclusive partnership with the startup, PlayVS facilitates the formation of esports leagues within American high schools.

Parnell’s idea was so innovative that he raised close to $100 million in just 13 months. Needless to say, PlayVS and high school esports are here to stay. As of December 2019, the company had a 13,000-school waiting list. To put that into perspective, approximately 14,000 American high schools have football programs.

These successful black entrepreneurs and businesses illustrate a core tenant of effective marketing: the power of understanding. Successful brands, products, agencies, and advertisements exemplify an authentic understanding of a consumer or client’s desires. These leaders and their companies inspire us at Valassis.

Diversity in all forms creates a more dynamic and inclusive business environment. It’s an idea worth celebrating not just during Black History Month — but all throughout the year.