My FuzeUs Story – Kenny Warner (CEO & co-founder)

A lot of people have been asking me how FuzeUs got started and what the story behind it is. Well, now is the time that I will lay it out for everyone. Starting FuzeUs was not easy, the initial idea might have seemed like an easy thing, but no one told me just how much it takes. The story begins with me sitting in my dorm room the first semester of my sophomore year of college. I was on the top floor of my dorm and I was overlooking a quiet landscape covered with murky grey clouds. On my laptop was an article about Occupy Wall Street and the recent string of damages it caused to central park. The number was mind boggling, and it got me thinking, “What the HELL are they doing?” “Can’t this be done in a different way that is actually effecttive?” That is when lightning struck and sure enough the orginal, fleeting, idea for FuzeUs popped into my head. I knew that there was one thing to do in this situation and that was to call my best friend and eventual business partner @tristanylovell. At first pitch, he loved the idea, and a day later we met up to discuss it further. After a notebook full of notes and ideas between the both of us, we got to work. The question was, what was getting to work supposed to mean? We thought we knew, so we started talking to everyone we could to get ideas, feedback, connections, and build a team of people that could develop this idea into a real product.

The idea grew and grew and grew until it started to really take on the shape of something that would be incredibly important to the world. March, April, May rolled around and it was time to start legitimately building a team to get this underway. We let the fingers do the walking and before we knew it we had a good set of job descriptions and they were sent out to all the college job boards in the area. At 19 and 20 years of age for myself and Tristan respectively, we had about 10 interviews or more lined up with candidates for various positions. The thing was, they were all older than us, having bachelors, masters, PhD’s, and here we were with a BS in BS…that’s bullshit for those that aren’t keeping up. After some time and few skipped track practices, we had our team. There were going to be 7 of us crammed around a table in the old, spider infested, slowly crumbling, back house of the Office of Black Student affairs for the colleges. That didn’t matter though, we had a team and we had everything we needed to actually start to build our product. We felt like we were officially real entrepreneurs. Well, if being a real entrepreneur means overcoming significant setbacks, that was about to happen.

On the night before the whole team was about to meet and we were going to begin programming one developer called and said he was out. That’s a bummer, but hey that’s what being an entrepreneur is all about right? Sure. The next morning, Tristan and I are about to get to the office, ahead of everyone else and sure enough we get a call from another developer. He had a family emergency to attend to and we didn’t have adequate funding to pay him a full salary. Ok, that’s a bit of a set back but we still have a strong core of people. Little did I know, before the end of that week, our strong group of 7 was now down to 4. We lost almost half of our entire team before the first week was out. Imagine Apple losing half of their team and see how they fair. Down but not out we continued on and that summer was one of the longest, yet shortest, happiest, yet most frustrating, rewarding, yet most defeating summers I have ever had. With Tristan’s $5000 grant for the o-chem research he was doing over the summer that was all we had. How does one start a tech company with that much money? Good question, we’ll let you know when we have a real answer.

By the end of the summer, we were down to a couple thousand dollars, and barely had a product that could function. Before long, it was just back to the original two, a bond and brotherhood that could not be broken only beaten down. The next school year had started and we were not amongst the academic attendees, and since then, never have been. Back to square one it was time to figure something out, so we trudged along. Idea after idea, selling ourselves on the street corner was an idea that was tossed around more than regularly. In hindsight, I suppose it was more a break in the tension than an honest suggestion. Finally, we got our first break, Tristan’s mom came to our salvation and gave us our first real investment. This allowed us to actually pay a development team to build something real, usable, something we could actually touch and play with. A few months later, we had our first real product. Unfortunately, it was not without it’s issues. A few tweaks and what we had was certain…something. It made us look a little more professional, but never was quite something we could use. At this point, having the weight of the world on our shoulders began to put significant pressure on the obscure black lumps of coal that we once were as budding entrepreneurs, and we slowly began to become the diamonds in the rough that we knew we could be.

After a good bit of work and a whole lot of persistence we got the big break that we needed. I decided to grab lunch with an old professor of mine. As we were catching up I mentioned what I was working on and sure enough he showed a deep interest in it. The lunch went well and he was seriously considering a major investment into us. Tristan, my professor, and I got lunch later on and just like that we had a check for $35,000. Nothing huge, but certainly the biggest check that we had ever seen. Once we had that money, I actually got my first apartment. More than that, I didn’t have to meander around the colleges living out of friend’s dorm rooms, living day to day, scrounging for food, having friends steal me breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the dining hall. Now I had my own little studio and food. It wasn’t much and I was only living off of about $1,500 a month at the time, but it felt great. We used it as our own office, out of the scorching hot, spider infested back house. No more basketball hoop, but this time it was a real home base.

That’s when the real battle began, we worked hard every single day, up early, to bed late, trying to make anything we could work. It was progress but it certainly wasn’t the best progress in the world. Unfortunately, not much came out of it before we had to go back for more money. Admittedly we did learn a whole lot, and it was a time in my life I will never forget, but we didn’t have the most to show for it. We did, however, show enough promise that our investors were willing to put more into us. From that, began a whole other round of testing, developing, testing, thinking, white-boarding, and developing more. Until, the day came, we had our latest product. We were even set to test it, with a real life organization. And of course, it went up in a flame of glory. Nothing really worked. We had to shut the service down within the week. Back to the drawing board again. If set backs are what make you an entrepreneur, this surely meant that we were the best of the best. Except, we weren’t. We toiled along, trying one thing after the next and just scraping by. Eventually, we began to get our feet under us.

Then of course, the rug got ripped out from under us and after squandering $300,000 with a lot learned and little gained we had to retreat with our tales between our legs. I was back to living out of a suitcase in my girl friend’s room. With a healthy dose of humility it was do or die time. Tristan and I did what we do best and thought things through, tested, talked, tested, talked, tinkered, and slowly but surely we began to build a foundation we could stand on. Not knowing what to do, no place to live, little money left to put food on the table, my girl friend and I took a month long road trip. From LA we hit Palm Desert to visit my mom briefly, launched a new product, Do Goodies, then hit the road to Phoenix, the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Monument National Valley, Great Sand Dunes, and finally took a long stop at my dad’s in Colorado. Apart from taking the time to recharge my batteries and get back to basics, I worked and worked. When the time came, it was off to San Francisco the destination of my soon to be new home. On our way we visited, the Flaming Gorge, Salt Lake City, Bonneville Salt Flats, Reno, cut through Tahoe and made our way to my friend’s place.

With what little money we had left, we found a place, put a plan together and got moving on it. Before we knew it, FuzeUs had a clear path to success, something with real revenue potential. That is where we are at now, standing on the precipice of what could be our greatest achievement to date and what could put us into the upper echelons on the entrepreneurial world. For that, we need you, someone who is willing to go the extra mile to make the world a better place. I promise you won’t regret it and you will be rewarded with everything you ever wanted. Join me in making FuzeUs the best startup to grace the earth and let’s change the future for the better.

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