BIGR Media Merges with Tech Startup Wannado to Empower Local Publishers


Tech startup Wannado is merging with Franklin-based digital media company BIGR Media. The two entities will combine to form EmpowerLocal Inc., a new company that aims to empower independent local media brands across the U.S.

Wannado, which was hatched out of Nashville’s tech incubator Jumpstart Foundry in 2011, utilizes artificial intelligence to recommend relevant local events, experiences and offers to online users. The merger combines the startup’s technology platform with BIGR’s eight digital news, sports and entertainment publications, including Williamson Source, Rutherford Source and A to Z Sports.

EmpowerLocal will serve a growing network of local news and community publications. Partner websites can easily “plugin” and customize content automation and personalization capabilities powered by Wannado’s platform.

The two companies have been working together on product development for more than a year leading up to the merger, Wannado co-founder Steven Buhrman said. “BIGR Media’s industry expertise and diverse network of editorial brands have provided an ideal environment to test and refine solutions we can now offer to publishers nationwide.” Buhrman will serve as CEO of EmpowerLocal.

“Early on in the partnership it became obvious that the two companies can achieve far more together than we ever could apart,” commented BIGR Media co-founder Steven Ludwig. “The applications for Wannado’s technology on third party sites goes beyond local event recommendations. The platform also opens up additional revenue streams from sponsored content typically not accessible to smaller, independent local publishers.” Ludwig will serve as Executive Chairman of EmpowerLocal.

The company is responding to opportunities created by the burgeoning local online publishing industry. “Local publishers need more ways to efficiently create excellent, relevant content for their readers while also opening up new sources of revenue. This need is universal across a wide variety of publisher types,” said Ludwig.

“Access to quality local information is essential for individuals and communities to thrive,” said Buhrman. “The purpose of EmpowerLocal is to help an emerging generation of local media entrepreneurs to be more successful. This is something everyone can get behind.”

The company is currently adding affiliate partners in Tennessee and will announce a national rollout at the LION Summit in Chicago this October. The LION Summit is the largest annual gathering of independent online news publishers in the U.S. It is produced by LION Publishers, a trade organization dedicated to fostering the viability and excellence of locally-focused, independent online news organizations.

About EmpowerLocal

EmpowerLocal is a company dedicated to elevating the quality and profitability of local media. We’re empowering a growing network of independent local publishers (community news, radio stations, city magazines) through digital upgrades that delight readers and drive revenue.

Our team is based in and around Nashville, TN, where we operate several local news, sports and entertainment publications. The digital tools and integrations we make available to our partner network are tested and refined on our own sites. Learn more at

Please Join Our FREE Newsletter!