Here's How Jon Laster Created A Tool To Help People Locate Black-Owned Businesses One Geo-Location At A Time
Photo Credit: Jon Lester
,

Here's How Jon Laster Created A Tool To Help People Locate Black-Owned Businesses One Geo-Location At A Time

What if you had direct access to all of the Black-owned businesses within your reach from the click of a button?

You don’t have to guess with Blapp, the revolutionary new Black-owned app that offers shoppers an optimized search engine to help them find Black-owned businesses both locally and online.

Founder Jon Laster created the application out of his own desire to locate businesses to support while traveling from gig to gig as a comedian. After being forced to make a career pivot due to the pandemic and recalling how hard it could be to pinpoint businesses led by people who look like him, it was time to take things to the next step.

“To be honest, it was a career pivot because I was out of work,” Jon Laster recalled in an exclusive interview with AfroTech. “And to be honest, I was out. I did all of the marching and things like that, but while I was out on Eastern Parkway marching it dawned on me that marching isn’t always sustainable. I’m not knocking people for marching because it does do a good job of highlighting a problem, but I just knew I wanted to do more.”

Wanting to do more took Laster back to his roots in economics, the field that he studied with a specific focus on poverty during his time in college. He understood that most of the problems that Black people are up against are rooted in lack of money, especially when living in a capitalist society.

Jon Laster Speak on The Beauty Of Frustration

After phoning a friend with ties to Silicon Valley, Laster was able to connect with someone who could begin to help him build out what would soon become Blapp.

“The beauty of the app is that my frustration led me to it,” he continued. Despite a continued fight to get funding to get the app to where it is today, Laster says that this is something that we all can be proud of. 

“Now, the app speaks for itself,” said Laster. “If I was willing to take money from people who disrespected me, I would have all the money that I needed. I just don’t want that energy in Blapp.”

Here's How It Works

With connections with friends immersed in the world of technology, Laster received the first prototype for the application and the rest is history!

Rather than taking public data from Google businesses that identify as Black-owned, Laster and his team made the executive decision to dump all of the locations onto the map at once rather than placing them there one at a time like other applications. This is what truly sets Blapp apart from the rest.

“My friend started opening the app around the country in places like Houston, Dallas, Cedar Rapids, Denver, Atlanta, and so forth and they were like, ‘yo, this is accurate. These are Black businesses in my neighborhood,’” Laster shared. “That’s when we knew we had something special.”

Blapp is a Google-based, geo-located app that will tell you all the Black businesses that are right around you and it even has a place where online businesses can live.

“We essentially have the most accurate database in the world of Black-owned businesses and I think we’re one of the only geo-located apps that’ll also tell you where they are according to wherever you may be in the world,” he chimed.

Click here to download Blapp.