“Man dies after a medical incident during a police interaction.” This is how Minneapolis Police initially described George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Derek Chauvin on May 25th, 2020. If it weren’t for the courage of 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, now a Pulitzer Prize Winner, who filmed Derek Chauvin pressing his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes, we might have never known the truth.
Smartphones with better and better cameras turned everyday consumers into videographers, directors, news people. Visual user-generated content (UGC) has been growing over the years because of social outlets such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Marketing organizations have also been able to see the more profound impact UGC has on potential customers.
The content creator and distributor Burst built a successful business enabling broadcasters, media companies, rights holders and brands to instantly deliver mobile video to broadcast, OTT, digital and social platforms at a low cost. Burst’s patented technology allows anyone with a smartphone, a point of view and a subject to record – to get their video into live or curated media streams seamlessly without requiring the download and use of a mobile app to participate. For media companies, live event venues, brands and marketers, this means fresh and compelling content that is rights-controlled and readily monetized. Burst is the only solution that gives companies complete control of their content and defense against social media cannibalization, allowing them to build new revenue streams from their content.
Burst CEO and Co-Founder, Bryant McBride, told me during a video interview that as happy as he is about the success of Burst, there is more he wants to do with the company. “We have the pipes. We want to add to the content we put in them so we can amplify those voices that would take a backseat in mainstream media. We want to do this because we want those voices to feel like they belong. We also want people to continue to move forward and to do that, we need to continue to collectively learn,” says McBride.
McBride is no stranger to powerful stories. The serial entrepreneur, youth hockey coach and administrator and father of three was the co-producer of the movie “Willie” – How the Descendant of Slaves Changed Hockey Forever. The powerful story of Willie O’Ree, the first Black player to skate in a National Hockey League game in 1958 right in the midst of Jim Crow and at the dawn of the civil rights movement. The documentary is the amazing work of a largely women-led team working with Director and Co-Producer Laurence Mathieu-Leger, who brings the empathetic eye of someone who grew up loving hockey but takes in so much more than the game by shining a light on the man, his struggles and achievements on and off the ice rink.
Following the success of “Willie,” Burst wants to step up its efforts to create and distribute content from marginalized BIPOC creators at scale. McBride hopes that the current push from corporations across the country to invest in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives will bring some investment and commercial deals to Burst. “We are committed to telling these stories, many untold, from the “inside out” from traditional “out-groups” via content that ranges from 30 second UGC clips to 30-minute episodic content to full-length features that reach viewers across all screens and platforms. There are hundreds of thousands of stories like Tulsa yet to be shared, many of them underscoring achievement and resilience,” says McBride. This is why Burst is raising $10M to amplify marginalized voices of BIPOC creators. The growth capital will create the necessary delivery infrastructure, further scale our proprietary technology and enable Burst to forge partnerships with organizations who share its view of the importance of ongoing education.
Managing Director of Sports and Entertainment at JP Morgan Chase, Frank Nakano, noted in a quote provided to me over email: “The “Willie” film educates, humanizes and inspires. It’s the kind of story that JP Morgan Chase is proud to support as it embodies our efforts to connect with customers in a meaningful way. We look forward to working with Burst in sharing more important and authentic stories that highlight the hopes and dreams of all people.” Hopefully, the current push to support Black businesses will also benefit McBride, who is also no stranger to the lack of investment benefitting Black entrepreneurs.
The current social climate has seen a strong appetite for stories from diverse voices. Storytelling centered on providing an account of moments and people too often overlooked made productions such as “The Watchmen,” “Harriet,” and “Lovecraft” a success. Apple TV Plus’s production of “Little America” provided a stage for a series based on eight true stories of individual immigrants and their accomplishments in America. While all are different productions in style and budgets, they speak to McBride’s conviction that now is the time to put more effort and scale the production and distribution of stories that drive empathy and open people’s minds to different perspectives.
“This is very personal,” says McBride. “I am a dad and if there were only one thing I could give to my kids, it would be resilience. The ability to get back up – no matter what. Young people need it so desperately right now. We must get to the point where they all feel as though they belong – that they’re welcomed. Where people see them and they see people.” This is why Burst wants to give voice to artists, storytellers, videographers, and a platform to people who have a story to share and want to work with the team at Burst to package it and distribute it. McBride wants Burst to do well but also do good and he is adamant they can do both!
Disclosure: The Heart of Tech is a research and consultancy firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this column. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this column.