As Sixth Formers make the transition into a college environment, a daunting task unrelated to the classroom lies ahead: finding friends. What seems like an elementary undertaking consumes the minds of eager soon-to-be graduates. But three recent Haverford alumni—David Graham, Jon Krouse, and Chris Tsetsekos—are attempting to calm this sea of uncertainty.
“We were sitting in ‘The Tank’ one day after lacrosse practice, and we bounced ideas off each other. After coming up with the concept, we looked into how to make an app,” Chris Tsetsekos ’20 said.
In pre-COVID days, “The Tank” brought together students in the Enrichment Learning Center to complete homework and converse in a casual setting. These three young alumni spent their time innovating and fifteen months later, they have raised $250,000 and counting for their startup social media platform, FuzeMee.
“We realized how difficult it was to meet our future classmates,” David Graham ’20 said. “We would spend hours scrolling through large unorganized discussion boards on Facebook of everyone trying to introduce themselves.”
On these apps and group chats, there is no way to filter for students of similar interests or locations, making the roommate process a comparable challenge to the application process. Additionally, colleges and universities struggle to spread awareness of community events.
“I’ve seen firsthand students continuing to search for companionship. Oftentimes, they text through Zoom chat and even stay after class to connect and meet new people,” Graham said.
So what did these three entrepreneurs do about the problems they experienced firsthand? They solved them.
“FuzeMee is a mobile application for the whole college experience,” Chris Tsetsekos said. “Our app allows students to connect based on similar interests, find compatible roommates, and discover events on and around campus. We plan to release FuzeMee publicly on the App Store in June.”
While the app is not out yet, these three have been far from idle. From writing the application design book to administering over one hundred modifications to the app, FuzeMee is more than a work in progress.
As they work to perfect their platform, they have also been raising capital and organically building a user base of over 1,300 students by sharing a private testing link. Fundraising is difficult, but the FuzeMee creators have brought together an advisory board of world-class industry leaders from top universities and firms. They have raised over $250,000 with a target of $500,000. They are still looking to find the right investors to join them on this journey.
“This is a great opportunity to make an impact that will forever help rising college students,” Krouse said.
Many entrepreneurs find a niche with potential, but many times, they are not directly involved in it. The FuzeMee founders are different because they are the audience; they are college students who experienced the social adaptation struggle firsthand.
In early March, FuzeMee was tested at Ohio State and Wake Forest Universities. On average, students engaged with the platform 14.4 times per day. The student engagement provided clear feedback: FuzeMee is valuable to the students who have had the opportunity to use it.
“FuzeMee is made by students for students, and our outreach is growing. Our ambassador count is 1,300 with a digital reach of 8.1 million,” Tsetsekos said.
According to FuzeMee’s business model, they have four routes to generate revenue: event feed subscription, university subscription, paid media, and student offerings. For these offerings, FuzeMee has already partnered with Juno, a national student loan provider, who will advertise its loan structure directly on the FuzeMee platform.
“On average, Juno will save each student $15,000 on student loans. This revenue stream for FuzeMee provides a tremendous amount of value to our users,” Tsetsekos said.
In short, FuzeMee’s second revenue stream tailors advertisements to student needs, and they are in talks with several companies similar to Juno.
Apart from the financials, the FuzeMee founders used a unique and effective way to spread the word.
“Right now, we have over 1,250 students across the country as FuzeMee ambassadors,” Tsetsekos said. “That’s how we plan on growing our user base organically when we launch.”
Despite their expansion, Graham, Krouse, and Tsetsekos have not lost appreciation for the environment that fostered growth and opportunity. Tsetsekos is the former Co-President of the Entrepreneurship Club who preached the value of meaningful connections during his weekly club presentations. And now, FuzeMee is following up on the premise they preached while at Haverford, extending an opportunity to Haverford students to become involved in the startup.
Graham, Krouse, and Tsetsekos have one final message for their former classmates: “If you want early access to FuzeMee before we launch, want to be an ambassador or get involved in any way, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”