This startup is fusing together talent and community to empower creative individuals
When 11-year-old Riya Sinha authored a book called Runaway Twins, little did she realise the power it would go on to have.
A student of Palo Alto High School, California, Riya was encouraged to explore her innate writing skills, so she chose to work on a bunch of short stories (Runaway Twins), published it and waited to see reactions.
She didn’t have to wait long. One day at a local bookstore in Palo Alto, a young girl came running to her and exclaimed that Riya’s book had inspired her to write and create; that she wanted to become a writer as well.
This got Riya thinking, and she wondered if there was a way to enable young girls and women around the country to focus more on creative pursuits. She started Fuzia as a writing club in 2012, as a platform for young schoolgirls to share their writings.
Today, it has transformed into an independent online space for women to connect and create globally.
What does the platform do?
Fuzia is now essentially a platform for all individuals to showcase their talent and creativity. Believing that talent shared is talent encouraged, Fuzia marshals various campaigns and types of content. Both women and men from across the globe participate, and the entries are studied thoroughly by the Fuzia team.
Later, shortlisted content creators are provided with training and career opportunities in areas of their interest and expertise.
The platform collaborates with their in-house talent scouts and experts, social media influencers, entrepreneurs, and inspirational women, and organises interactive live sessions so that people can get their doubts sorted, and get the right training to start their own ventures. Overall, Fuzia works as a complete talent solution platform for companies.
As Riya was only 14, her father felt the platform needed someone who could join hands and work together towards a common goal. That’s when 27-year-old Shraddha Varma, also a relative of Riya, joined the team.
“I was in my final year of MBA, and I had past experience in sales and marketing for over 3.5 years. When I learned about Riya’s initiative and the mission, I was extremely delighted and proud of her at the same time,” says Shraddha.
The bootstrapped startup is based out of Mumbai.
How does it work?
The platform is a virtual stage for people to exhibit their talent and creativity, and spark meaningful conversations amongst people who share similar passions.
“We have a website and an app. One can simply create a profile and login. When a user signs up with us, we ensure that they are welcomed, and given the time to get to know the platform. We have User Relationship Managers who ensure that these users are very comfortable using our platform and are exposed to all the features that we offer and explore,” explains Shraddha.
One of the key features in Fuzia is Fuzia Lounge. It is custom made for research, and encourages folks to share and exchange ideas.
“We also have two very active channels: one for skill learning for photography and the other for learning good writing skills. We also have a counselling section where anyone can share their concerns and discuss with our Fuzia advisers/counsellors,” explains Shraddha. Fuzia also has a shoutbox, a place where people can connect with one another.
The biggest challenge in launching this platform was lack of experience. Also, since Riya was in school, she could not dedicate her time fully, what with homework, projects and assignments.
But despite all the hurdles, her understanding about Fuzia and its purpose held steady. She adds that she is proud of how the company has evolved from a mere writing club for school girls in Palo Alto back in 2012, to a huge talent showcase platform and community. A dynamic team of 40 people, led by Shraddha, adds to the glory.
Building a job market
“We encourage creativity through weekly contests and campaigns, which is absolutely free to enter for all ‘Fuziaites’. They are also rewarded for their creativity through vouchers as well as international certificates. Last but not the least, we connect our users with experts from various fields, and give them an exposure through live sessions, expert talks, webinars and meetups,” explains Shraddha
For people who are regular in contributing their work, Fuzia also has jobs to offer, either in house or other full time jobs.
The platform has faced its fair share of challenges too.
“Being a part of the social media industry, we often encounter various challenges and competitiveness. Member relations help us garner the love and support of millions. Listening to our users helps us for future growth and improvement,” says Shraddha.
Revenue and market
Currently bootstrapped, the platform has six million people on its network and more than 50,000 active contributors in the community every month. “We are currently focusing only on developing engaging activities on our website and social media,” says Shraddha.
Potential clients connect with Fuzia and share their work requirements. The team have dedicated project managers and talent agents to help each client. The work is then assigned to suitable members matching their skillsets.
“The clients pay us a certain fee and we in turn, pay these members. We earn through the commission that we get in this process,” says Shraddha. The team refused the share the percentage and fee.
Startups like GlowRoad, Shop101, and others also play in a similar space. However, Fuzia is focussed on talent and creative aspects. According to IndianRetailer.com, the niche ecommerce market in India is pegged at $30 billion, of which $400 million could be attributed to the digital space.
Currently, Riya is entering her second year at UC Berkley, California, and works only part time for Fuzia, focusing on Fuzia.TV (videos and interviews of influential women), partnerships, PR and promotions. She is also involved in charity activities.
Speaking of their future plans, Shraddha says, “We aim to ultimately enhance our users’ talent and turn them into professionals. We try to boost their confidence by making them financially and emotionally independent, through freedom of their individual expressions.”
Edited by Anju Narayanan