We’ve prepared this FAQ about VoyageATL in an effort to ensure that anyone who is interested can have a full understanding of what we do and why we’re doing it.
Who started Voyage
Hi everyone – I’m Mayank and I’m one of the two founders of Voyage. I was born in Miami, Florida and lived in South Florida through high school. My parents came to this country with very little, but they scraped some savings together, borrowed on their credit card and bought a small business and ran it together for almost 30 years. We weren’t wealthy, but my parents never wanted their lack of wealth to interfere with my ability to grow, learn, and pursue the dreams that I had. After high school I moved to LA to attend UCLA, which is where I met my cofounder Sid. After college, I was fortunate to land an incredible job as an investment banker at one of the world’s top banks. My parents were proud, their decades of sacrifice had helped their son “make it.” I worked in LA and NY for a few years, but then I left banking because I wanted to make an impact on the world in a different way. I wanted to figure out how to help people who were like my parents, but just starting out. Sid and I started building a tool to help small businesses build their own websites, but there were already so many of those, so we stopped working on that and focused on what we felt no one was doing – telling the stories of everyday heroes. We wanted to build a platform fully focused on telling as many stories and bringing as much exposure as we could to hard-working people who were doing something entrepreneurial, creative or artistic with their lives.
Hi everyone, My name is Sid and I’m one of the co-founders of Voyage. I came to the US for college and ended up falling in love with everything about America, in particular the free-thinking and anything-is-possible spirit. I went to UCLA to study neuroscience and become a doctor, but realized that medicine was not my passion. Through some struggle trying different jobs, I ultimately found software engineering to be extremely fun and fulfilling. So many people helped me along the way and encouraged me to find my passion. What I realized through my journey is that many other people struggle to find what they are passionate about too, and once they find it they end up having a positive impact on the world. These people have great stories but because they aren’t necessarily famous, the story is often untold. A few years ago Mayank and I partnered to provide web-development services to freelancers, artists, and small businesses – a group of creators close to our hearts. By talking to these people we learned about their amazing struggles and successes, but realized no one was sharing their stories. So, we set out to be the ones to uncover and share the human stories behind the people pursuing their passions, who we often see and drive past, and maybe even interact with everyday, but know little about.
Our mission & ethos
We believe that our communities are great because of the little guys and gals, the mom-and-pops, rising artists, local makers, creatives, and others who go off the beaten path, take risks and try to serve their community with something unique and special.
Our goal is for people to spend more of their money with mom and pops, local artists, creatives and makers rather than with large, one-shape-fits-all corporations.
We think if people knew more about the lives, journeys, struggles, values and background stories of the local business owners, artists, etc they would be more engaged with them, more likely to do business with them and support them in other ways. We believe the best way to do that is to help get the stories of local hidden gems out there, because once people get to know each other at a deeper level we are confident our communities will become even closer and more supportive.
Over time we plan to grow and deepen our involvement with the community beyond storytelling, to include in-person events that promote local artists and entrepreneurs, etc. We are excited and touched by the number of people that have expressed an interest in being part of that growth.
How we differ from traditional magazines
We are a platform that highlights the extraordinary life stories of everyday folks, told in their own words.
We do not have a masthead: For us, this started as a passion project. We are a small team that works with freelancers and contributors because there is an enormous number of amazing, untold stories that deserve to be told. Our contributors are not reporters – they are real people who work with us because they believe in our mission. By working remotely, part-time etc., they are able to support the magazine based on their availability. Through their efforts, we are able to learn from, and share the stories of many more people than we otherwise could. As such, our outreach contributors are free to use nicknames, first names or pen-names in their communications to preserve their privacy and avoid being contacted personally (i.e., on social media by people looking to connect). Since our outreach contributors may come and go, we do not require them to have a staff bio on our website. Our stories don’t have by lines because we allow interviewees to tell their stories in their own words, eliminating the (well-intentioned) interference of a writer’s voice.
We are not journalists: We do not provide headline news. We don’t analyze politics or preach policy. We are in the business of finding amazing people and giving them a platform to tell their own stories in their own words.
Inclusive rather than exclusive: We strive to be an inclusive platform, rather than an exclusive club. Many media outlets create value through exclusivity, featuring a very small number of people each year.
We believe in the opposite approach. We believe in supporting people who are up-and-coming, as well as established. We believe in sharing the struggles behind the success, not just the accomplishments. And we believe in getting to know the person and their philosophy, not just their art, product, or business. We believe that by telling more stories we can make a bigger impact on our communities and the world. If only a handful of stories are told, then only a handful of people can benefit from the power of storytelling. We think communities are better when we know each other at a deeper level, but that’s not possible if we are only exposed to the stories of a select group and tiny percentage within the community.
We value diversity: We take pride in the diversity you’ll find on our site. You’ll find people of all different backgrounds, races, countries of origin, religions, sexual orientations, gender identifications, professions, education levels, colors, shapes, and sizes featured on our site. Relative to almost any other media organization, on a typical day, even a cursory glance at our homepage will highlight how much more diverse we are relative to almost any other media outlet. This is intentional. We strive to make our platform accessible to groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in the media.
Authenticity over polish: We publish people’s stories in their own words, even when there are grammatical issues because we believe it’s important to highlight that not all successful people sound the same, have flawless writing skills, etc. If every time you see a feature of someone successful in the media and everything about them is perfect – from editing their responses to photoshopping their images to remove every “imperfection,” you may get the false idea that successful people are perfect and that if one is not perfect, they might not be capable of success. We want to debunk this myth by showing that success comes in many forms/styles/education-levels/writing-styles, etc. That said, we all make mistakes, so if you notice an error in your submission after the fact, we are more than happy to work with you to correct it.
What happens with the information and pictures you submit to us
If you participate in a Q&A interview (our primary feature format), your answers and pictures will only be used for the interview and promotion of the interview. It will not be used for ANY other purpose. We do not sell your data, and we also do not use the information you provide to analyze it for marketing purposes.
We use Google Analytics to keep track of our website traffic. However, we DO NOT aggregate, share, sell or otherwise use data for any other commercial purpose other than keeping track of our traffic.
We may reach out to you in the future via email or social media to see if you are interested in collaborating with us again on another series, event, project etc. If you ever want us to stop reaching out you can let us know easily by clicking the “preferences” button in any of our emails to you.
Where are we based
We are based in Los Angeles, California, where we started our first site VoyageLA.com. Our mailing address is: 9415 Culver Blvd, STE 207 Culver City, CA 90232. This is the co-working space from where we first started, though we now work out of multiple co-working places and many of our contributors and outreach team are remote. Given our access to phones, e-mail, Skype, and other digital forms of communication, our contributors have the flexibility and freedom to work from wherever is convenient to them.
Why we ask for recommendations
The power in most media organizations is concentrated among a tiny group of people in the editorial department who decide who will get coverage and who won’t. Often, these editorial elites can be removed from the heart of the community. By valuing recommendations we are able to take power out of the editorial office and distribute it to the people – so that the community is helping to drive coverage decisions rather than a small group of editorial elites. This allows us to feature thought-provoking art that may not be the most commercially successful (yet), and/or highlight the stories of trailblazing women that are making a difference in all fields.
What we are most excited by
On our platform, we have been blessed and amazed to see what people we featured a few months or years ago have accomplished since because we were able to connect with them when they were still an up-and-coming artist or entrepreneur. We want our site to be a positive and inspirational place, but know the path is not always easy. We have been particularly touched by the stories of people who we happened to connect with at a time of personal or professional difficulty in their life, like when they were making a career change to leave a 9-5 and pursue a passion. We love getting updates about how them sharing their story helped their business, self-confidence, re-connected them with old clients/followers who never knew their personal story, or allowed them to chronicle and journal their journey.
We can’t wait to read and share your story!
April 15, 2019 at 7:08 pm
This was beautifully expressed
June 7, 2019 at 2:09 am
Love the movement and your purpose
August 27, 2019 at 5:21 pm
Such a beautiful vision and purpose for this magazine! It’s refreshing to see a media platform seeking to give a voice to others who may not have a large platform or following! Thank you for the work you do, it’s invaluable!
August 28, 2019 at 3:13 am
Beautiful, and thank you all for taking the time out to show the world who we are!
September 4, 2019 at 12:34 am
To the co-founders of VoyageATL,
Thank you for featuring my daughter, Victoria Harris of Shop Blvssom in your September 3rd edition; Local Stories. It brought tears to my eyes and a very full heart to read this interview to see how her passion and dreams are beginning to take flight and flourish beyond her imagination. You showcase some very inspiring stories. Her Nana would be so very proud!
Her Mom and Head Cheer Leader! Go Vi!
October 30, 2019 at 2:32 pm
This was definitely worth the read! To know your inspiration behind it all inspires me. Thank you for aiming to shine light on young up and coming entrepreneurs & those making an impact in their community that don’t often get recognized by the masses. This is amazing!
November 6, 2019 at 6:07 pm
I love that VoyageATL hightlights everyday people and positive things happening in Atlanta! I’ve even read stories on a few of my friends based out of Atlanta! I’m submitting a story today! I’m the Volunteer and Donation Manager at Our House Inc.! We are a shelter for families with new babies and an early childcare center for families facing homelessness! We have our Second Wheels for Walls event on Nov. 15 and we need all the support and participants that we can get! Thanks for always spreading positivity!
The Yoni Lady
November 16, 2019 at 7:11 am
This!!! This is absolutely everything!!! I love what you all stand for!!!
Quentin O'Neal Henry
January 7, 2020 at 1:21 pm
Very nicely articulated! Looking forward to working with you all.
January 20, 2020 at 1:37 pm
Absolutely wonderful!!!! It’s good to be reminded that there are still good people in the world. Especially with the world being so full of selfishness and hate. I hope and will pray that your movement becomes bigger than life itself one day. This is truly fascinating by far. Continue to do great things guys!!
March 17, 2020 at 9:40 pm
I love the the detail of your FAQ Page great job explaining this!
KiKi N Lonte
March 18, 2020 at 3:49 pm
Love what you guys are doing. My boyfriend I are inspiring Youtubers and would love to have our story featured one day.
March 22, 2020 at 6:05 pm
I Enjoyed the Expression, Being “Inclusive and Not Exclusive”. No one Story is More important than the other. That’s Very commendable, being able to keep going being so diversified in an adverse time. I’m enjoying the stories I’m reading an hopefully one day my story might be inspirational enough to move one as such like me the way I’ve been Moved. I Have an non fictional extravaganza of a story, lol. Thanks for the Motivation, Young Black Felon Out… 😂
Dustin Marrize Bell
April 7, 2020 at 6:13 pm
I love the concept of sharing stories.
April 18, 2020 at 2:05 am
Love your intro and piece on a friend I have yet to meet in person, Tim Ray of UI Media Group. You two look too young to remember Lewis Grizzard, a great humorist from Georgia who died young in 1994 and whose column was syndicated in 450 papers across the US. I appeared on a March 11 UI Media show, whose link I sent you via the referral template. Tim and I are working on a show I will host, scheduled to launch mid-June: “I am Man, Hear Me Belch”. Not degenerate like it sounds. Politically incorrect, yet not profane. Old fashioned virtues and civility from a men’s perspective. There are scores of shows for women, few for men. I hope to discuss it with you. Mayank & Sid, please keep up the fine work!
August 10, 2020 at 7:07 am
Beautifully and authentically written.
September 7, 2020 at 11:30 pm
What great hearts you both have to pursue impacting communities in a more intimate and meaningful way! Thank you for including me in your story and the willingness to tell my story and the stories of so many that may not otherwise have been told. You are making such a huge impact!
November 13, 2020 at 9:51 pm
This is beautiful!
December 5, 2020 at 2:29 pm
Well said! Excited to be apart.
January 3, 2021 at 2:44 am
I love what you stand for and your personal stories. I love that you’re not looking for perfection or people that have already made it to the top of their field, but also people on the rise and making moves locally. I’m even more excited to be apart now.
January 23, 2021 at 10:00 pm
I love what you all stand for! You are making such a huge impact in the community. Continue the great job. God bless.
February 19, 2021 at 3:56 am
Awesome and inspiring read! Thanks Mayank, Sid for the tenacity to chase your passion as well as all of the individual contributors to the success of Voyage affording creatives like myself to take of space and being intentional betting on ourselves.
April 22, 2021 at 5:55 pm
I just happened upon your website in researching a client. Completely derailed my focus the last two hours as I couldn’t stop reading inspiring stories of other creatives in the Atlanta area.
Loved reading the story of how you two arrived at this vision and mission too! Thanks for sharing the wonderful stories. I could relate to so many of them, including the ‘coming to America’ and succeeding thanks to the hardwork, support and sacrifices of amazing parents, etc that we share in common as first gen immigrants. Keep up the good work guys!
June 11, 2021 at 10:14 pm
Thank you Voyage ATL for featuring both my son & daughter, Morgan Comer & Taylor Comer. The concept of this magazine is cutting edge & gives the little a chance to get recognized!
June 12, 2021 at 5:35 pm
Hello, I am a college student that has been writing since forever & I am wondering if you all accept writers for your magazine? I would love to expand my writing & work with other writers to bring not only traffic but also more authentic stories to your VoyageATL page. Please let me know if there are writing careers available.
Carisha The Diva
September 30, 2021 at 6:22 am
Absolutely ICONIC GOD BLESS YOU BOTH and very good missions
October 15, 2021 at 10:17 pm
I absolutely love, love, love what you both stand for…This is awesome!
Paul A. Zanardo
November 23, 2021 at 6:50 pm
I absolutely love your stories and what you guys are doing. Small businesses and entrepreneurs are what this country was founded on. I’m honored to be a part of this project. Stay blessed!
December 1, 2021 at 4:51 am
December 30, 2021 at 12:28 pm
I love what you all are doing. Your story is a true inspiration.