Today, I am speaking with Tom Logan, CEO and founder of EBANMAN Inc., a lifestyle brand dedicated to enhancing the lives of Black gay men. According to its website, the firm’s name is derived from the West African Adinkra name EBAN which symbolizes a fence for love, safety, and security. Logan, a Chicago native, founded the company seven years ago after noticing a lack of resources for the Black LGBTQ community. “I started figuring out how to correct that gap and connect with other professional black gay men from a career, social, and personal standpoint. Where could I find that group or that tribe? Since I could not find that tribe, I decided to create one,” he said. This month the company is launching Ebanman app 2.0, the first app curated for professional Black gay men. Here’s what Logan shared about barriers to marketplace entry, what he’s doing to overcome them, and long-term goals.
PrideIndex PI: Let’s start with some background information on yourself. Where are you from?
Tom Logan TL: I am the youngest of three brothers, born and raised in Chicago on the south side. I have lived on the south side of Chicago my entire life. Growing up in Chicago was definitely an eye-opening experience. It’s always interesting how some of us here in Chicago, creative individuals who think from a global perspective, sometimes have to leave Chicago to make it big. I’ve always wanted to create a completely homegrown product and remain here. My background is in account management within various industries from customer service, telecom, education, retail and industrial. I took all of my past experience and used it to serve my customer better. My goal is utilize my expertise for an underserved niche market by providing a concierge style service experience for professional Black gay men.
PI: I came across Ebanman on LinkedIn or Twitter and was quite impressed. I wanted to talk to you about your app and brand to get more information.
TL: Okay, thank you. Ebanman offers a visibility platform on our social channels and our website, ebanman.com. Our community app is a lifestyle resource and networking platform. The app allows individuals the opportunity to socialize and network similar to the experience of LinkedIn and Facebook but with additional resources;
- Travel information.
- Career-building information.
- A career board.
- A health and wellness section.
- A business directory.
Ebanman will be the on-the-go resource app for professional black gay men.
PI: What was your purpose for starting such a platform?
TL: Essentially, I came up with this idea or concept about six or seven years ago due to gaps in my personal life. Most individuals may or may not know, within the gay community, especially the black gay community, you become “dated” after 30. As you get older, the gap in our lack of resources grows bigger and our circle of friend came become smaller. I started trying to figure out how to correct the gaps and connect with other professional black gay men on a career, social, and personal level. Where could I find that group or that tribe? Since I could not find that tribe, I decided to create one. The concept initially evolved from hosting First Friday events in Chicago to expanding to an online platform. Then I realized there was no central hub where everyone could socialize. So, it just evolved. I decided to focus on the brand as a lifestyle including social, personal and professional lifestyle needs.
PI: Tell me about some obstacles you have faced as you brought Ebanman to the marketplace.
TL: Our biggest obstacle is getting the public attention for the product. What do I mean by that? You see so many black gay men complaining about having a safe space on other social media channels. They state that they’re tired of dating apps. Essentially, what we wanted to do was create something outside of that. But when we reach out to black gay men face to face, or even from an online experience, they instantly say, “Oh, is this a dating app?” or “Is this a hookup app?” or “What is this about?” They instantly shun something that has the name Black Gay associated with it. That’s why I always specify for professionals. I participated in an event during Pride here in Chicago. I had the booth set up, and a gentleman came out and said, “So when will you start the testing process?” And I said, “What do you mean the testing process?” He said, “Oh, I thought you were here for HIV awareness or something.” And I said, “No, I own a Black Gay app for professional black gay men, and here’s my product, here’s the information.” And as I walked him through the app experience, I could see an appreciation and the eye-opening experience that “Wow, we can have something other than just testing.” I think we often marginalize ourselves, within the community, in terms of statistics, in terms of stigma and other services we can’t envision. We are consumers; we’re not just a statistic.
PI: I was looking at your photo and profile on EBANMAN; you look pretty familiar to me. I don’t know you personally. I may have seen you at one of the Remimauko Book Club parties or perhaps some other venue.
TL: Yes, I have attended Remimauko Book Club events, you may have seen me in the past. I don’t socialize that much. But if you’re able to pinpoint that particular book club, and their events, I have attended.
PI: Who are some of the principals involved with this venture?
TL: I am the CEO and Founder. We also had an amazing gentleman named Joshua Luke, our VP, for a certain amount of time; he helped bring many things to fruition. We also have a gentleman by the name of Jerris Madison. Jerris was an amazing creative director behind the brand’s aesthetics. We also have Perez Pratt, our international global marketing director, based out of South Africa. I love him. Tyrese Townsend was instrumental in where we are now. He helped us tremendously with building our social media presence.
PI: Earlier, you mentioned one of my favorite phrases, “Food and Wine Festival,” in the same sentence; when do you plan to have such events? When and where?
TL: Right now, it’s a concept that we are looking to launch. It’s a challenge doing something like this in the Midwest. We are looking forward to bringing to the Midwest next year. Our goal for this year is Labor Day weekend in Atlanta for Black Pride. The goal is to take the concept to different cities to provide different experience. Black Pride is a little different than it used to be. It is very youth-driven, and we are trying to figure out ways to balance out the experience for individuals of a mature age that are looking for a different experience while being a part of that larger celebration.
PI: Any upcoming plans for the Ebanman platform?
TL: Yes, so we are launching an Ebanman app 2.0. With the 2.0 experience, we want to take a deeper dive into what we’ve realized may not have been the best experience on our current platform. 2.0 will be a whole different platform, a brand-new experience. The platform launching in March, will offer a free membership for individuals to access other professional black gay men from a global perspective. Another great feature ability to do live streaming. It gives you some of those different social experiences that you can find and other platforms. We’re really excited about this. Once we launch this new platform, the clientele will be more engaged. We’re looking to do zoom calls and live video experiences to activate the platform. We’re very excited and looking forward to bringing this 2.0 experience to the community.
PI: Is there a place for black women in this application?
TL: Another great question, the platform is a curated space for professional Black gay men. But if their other individuals that want to be a part of the app. In that case, we do not prevent those individuals from being a part of the app or the community experience as LGBTQ community. The only thing that we clarify is that the curated content is for professional, Black gay men.
PI: What are some of your long-term goals with Ebanman?
TL: One of the immediate goals we’re working on is to elevate the Black gay experience. There are so many things the black gay consumer loves to consume, but they’ve never viewed as a potential clientele. I look at my consumer base as a clientele. I’m the concierge for their lifestyle needs and the question is, how do I serve them? I can do that with social outdoor events. We’re looking at creating the first LGBTQ Food and Wine Festival. Other services would include a business conference, a wine club, curated travel experiences that elevate that Black experience.
PI: What else would you like to share about yourself, if you don’t mind?
TL: When I talk about EBANMAN’s product or service, I always want to reiterate that it is for the community. I’m a behind-the-scenes type of individual; sleeves rolled up trying to figure out how to continue providing this service. The biggest thing for me is letting people know that it’s out there and finding out what additional gaps are there to ensure that we’re providing a viable product. People appreciate it and see the value in it. These are the things that I look for, from a personal perspective, and from an Ebanman standpoint, also how do we expand upon that? What other gaps do we see? I spoke about the travel section feature. The Global Travel section will provide Black gay men and on the go city to city resource experience from locals. If I’m based in Chicago, and another member is based in Philly, and plans on visiting Chicago, the travel section will provide great hotspots from restaurants, shopping and nightlife. We’ve also just curated a Board of Advisors. It is an assembly of professional black gay men, worldwide. The Board of Advisors will be a great sounding board of resources and information to expand and help continue to elevate the experience for the black gay community.
PI: So, if someone were interested in collaborating with you to help to bring your product to the marketplace, as well as promoting their product, what should they do?
TL: First, please take a look at our website, www.ebanman.com and sign up for our newsletter and then send me an email. My direct email is firstname.lastname@example.org.