It's no secret that Millennials are less likely than older generations to buy newspapers. But a pair of entrepreneurs believe they can still get young people hooked on news by adopting techniques from apps like Instagram and Tinder.
Just two months after launching, the New York City-based news app Vizo is gaining traction among college students and twentysomethings who are looking for ways to quickly swipe through stories in a matter of minutes. With 20,000 downloads so far, Vizo has also gained the attention of the tech website Mashable, which highlighted it as a "can't-miss app."
Founded in July by 21-year-old Gillis Baxter and 24-year-old Evan Bloomberg (a cousin of media mogul and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg), Vizo News aggregates stories from a wide variety of traditional publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Wall Street Journal, summarizing them in 100-word blurbs with images. The app lets users swipe through articles, called "glances," and click through to read the full-length versions.
Earlier this week, the company announced it will be partnering with Dan Rather, journalist and Inc. columnist John Boitnott, and At Large magazine, among others, to post content on the app. Publications targeted to college students, such as the Columbia Daily Spectator, The Georgetown Voice, and Spoon University, have also signed up to publish daily content.
Part of the app's appeal is that it offers a way to introduce traditional news outlets to a generation that is keen on images and speed. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, out of 36 news sources, including major newspapers and digital publications, Millennials were only aware of BuzzFeed and Google News at a higher rate than older generations.
"I think in general Millennials are looking for an experience that is simple, that is easier," says Boitnott, whose articles started appearing on Vizo this week. "And part of that is something that this app can provide--news and no junk."
Baxter says he and Bloomberg decided to start the company, which generates revenue through native ads, after talking to friends who were struggling to catch up with current events for job interviews. The pair raised $250,000 from family and friends in August, and have gone on to raise a total of $1.175 million.
Last December, Baxter dropped out of Georgetown to work full time on developing Vizo. "It got to the point where I was answering emails for work all through class," he says. The founders now have a staff of three editors.
In addition to signing on content partners, the Vizo team is working on ramping up coverage for the 2016 presidential election. "We're the biggest voting bloc that doesn't vote," Gillis said. "We want Millennials to be more informed and give them a voice."