If you are passionate about cute cats, dogs and pets in general, welcome to Fuzmo, the on-line community to share your pet pictures. They have successfully run a crowd-funding campaign on Seedrs, obtaining more than £55,000; with this investment Fuzmo is aiming to develop a mobile app and be the leading picture sharing website for all animal and pet related photos. The startup is currently based in Tech Hub Swansea (South Wales). We interviewed Elliot Thomas (@ElliotRThomas), Fuzmo co-founder and CEO.
Question. One of the Fuzmo co-founders created an Instagram account dedicated to posting pictures of cute animals, which soon got more than 1.5 million followers. Was this what encouraged you to start the project? How were the origins like?
Answer. These Instagram accounts were created by Jack our COO and are definitely what inspired the whole project. Initially it all started as a bit of fun, however watching the accounts grow so rapidly alongside requests to post other users pictures, we soon realised that there was a lot of value in what we were doing and so created Fuzmo as a dedicated platform to allow users/other pet picture enthusiasts to share their own pictures together.
Q. We constantly see pictures of cute cats and dogs on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest… Does a niche platform like Fuzmo make sense? What’s your added value?
A. This is very true, almost all social media platforms have profiles and pages created to represent users pets, however these great profiles can often get lost in with everything else going on, not giving these accounts the attention they deserve. Fuzmo plans to focus solely on the sharing of pet pictures and nothing else thus giving people exactly what they want from the second they land on our site (or open our up and coming mobile applications).
Our added value shall be the great community of likeminded people that shall encourage the sharing of pet pictures and not attract any negative attention.
Q. How was the experience of launching a crowd-funding campaign on Seedrs? Would you repeat this formula?
A. Crowd funding was an emotional rollercoaster. Trying to sleep the first few days the campaign went live was extremely difficult due to the anxiety and excitement all combined. Questions from potential investors were flying in both public and private and so replying to these as quickly as possible was vital to us, however these would also come at all hours of the day/night. (Read more about Elliot’s crowd-funding experience here).
The experience itself was great and definitely something I would repeat. The Seedrs team were extremely helpful and always on hand should we have any questions.
Q. You have Tech Hub Swansea’s support, what are the tangible benefits of being part of this community?
A. Tech Hub Swansea has been key to our successes so far. From first walking in the office you are instantly greeted with many amazing people ranging from experienced entrepreneurs, through to creatives and designers. The atmosphere is amazing and the people are even better. Within hours of launching our crowd funding campaign, Tech Hub had published a blog article that got viewed by hundreds, given us loads of support via Twitter, and we also received a lot of crowd funding investment from the community.
For any tech startup based in South Wales, I couldn’t recommend a better place to be.
Q. Fuzmo seems to be an incredible “bootstrapping” case study. How have you survived so far? How do you plan to make money?
A. Fuzmo is definitely bootstrapped and has been an exciting journey so far. Prior to crowd funding myself and fellow co-founder Jack have been working other full time jobs while working on Fuzmo in our spare time. Each month a section of our salary was dedicated to paying our then freelancing web developer for further developments and also covering server costs. Now that we have funding we are able to pull the team on board full time and are ready to make something special happen.
With regards to generating revenue, we are currently fully focused on making sure our product is right and we are uncertain which monetisation strategy to take, however I am confident that once we decide this it will be the right option.
Q. If you had to pick a particular moment since you started this venture, which one would it be?
A. It is very hard to pick a specific moment, however the most exciting and anticipated event for us was the launch of our website. We started building Fuzmo in July 2013 and finally launched to the public on 15th November 2013. This was a great feeling that our product was finally available to the public, and our first weekend we saw over 1000 signups which was great.
Q. What´s your favorite music album and why?
A. Eagle Eye Cherry – Desireless. Eagle Eye Cherry is my favourite artist and this album holds my two favourite songs of his, ‘Save Tonight’ and ‘Falling in Love Again’. Whenever anything good happens in my life it is a natural instict for me to turn to these songs and they are related with many good memories of mine.