|19 Jul 2023
|United States of America
|2023 Finalists Global Student Prize
When David was nine years old, and within three months of moving to the United States, his mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, his grandmother died, and his parents filed for divorce. However, David believes that his ability to overcome these seemingly insurmountable obstacles has given him strength to believe in himself and resilience in the face of whatever life throws at him.
David began his time at Ohio State University as a college athlete in lacrosse, while also maintaining a full course load, working for the entrepreneurship school, and launching his startup company, FuzeMee. David was inspired to build FuzeMee after observing that the more connected people were online, the more they felt disconnected and alone in real life – particularly in a college environment with so many college students reporting loneliness. David experienced this lack of connectivity firsthand during his freshman year in college, and concluded that other students must feel similarly – especially given that 1 in 3 college students are depressed and anxious. He has come to see social media platforms as anti-social at their core, and believes that human relations must and will revert back to their rawest form of in-person interaction. FuzeMee serves as an aid to encourage and facilitate this transition back to in-person interaction, creating positive online-to-offline experiences that result in a happier, healthier, and more well-connected student body.
FuzeMee started to take off when it was named a Top 12 startup by Startup Hustle. Due to this nomination, David was invited on the Startup Hustle podcast (which has over four million downloads) to talk through the evolution of FuzeMee and his vision for the future of the product. As FuzeMee grew, David came to the realization that his life's calling was not just lacrosse. After substantial self-reflection, he took a risk and decided to take a leave from college with the goal of building and scaling a platform that would have a monumental impact on the lives of all college students. Since then, FuzeMee has soared to new heights: in less than a year, it has hired a team of seven employees (including three software developers), raised nearly $1m in funding, organically acquired 22,000 users, and acquired nearly 40 per cent of Ohio State's campus. FuzeMee is now ready to scale and be put in the hands of all college students.
With the Global Student Prize funds, David would extend FuzeMee to cover 250,000 more students, using proven, cost-efficient user acquisition channels. Some funds will go to product development, which will allow significant acceleration of the iteration cycle and allow FuzeMee to implement many new feature enhancements, such as an in-app referral system and a marketplace wallet feature.