OwlSpark | Rice University Startup Accelerator | TeamWise: FreeFuse
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TeamWise: FreeFuse

In today’s digital age, individuals worldwide create and share endless amounts of video media. Many of these ‘content creators’ value providing an intimate, creative, and personalized experience for their viewers. In particular, two of them are Michael Liu and Jonathan Marino, creators of the platform, FreeFuse. FreeFuse is a platform where creators can construct and upload interactive “audience participation content”—videos with different cinematic elements and variations of scenes. Based on the choices that viewers make, FreeFuse recommends more content that the viewer would enjoy.

The idea was inspired a year ago back when Jon and Michael were creating comedic skits together. “We both had this “out-there,” wacky sense of humor that only we connected with each other on, y’know? So we were like, “Let’s make some content!,” Jon recalls. Acting as the directors and organizers for several projects, the two brought together a group of over forty like-minded friends who were interested in creating content with them. “Eventually, we realized that there were too many people to keep up with, and it came back to just being us. We were thinking–the popularity of visual novels and ‘choose your own adventure’ books never really made a full transition into the digital age. Maybe we could be the ones to bridge the gap,” Michael explained.

Hailing from California, Michael studied Material Science Engineering at UC Riverside, where he received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and is working on his doctorate. Jonathan attended Cal-State LA, where he received his bachelor’s in Political Science.

Together, they’ve done hundreds of interviews with creators, asking them what they value in a platform and how they can provide an engaging experience for viewers. Through OwlSpark this summer, they received feedback on their extensive list of ideas before moving forward. “You can’t just sit around and pray that your idea’s going to work and then go into a board room and have them tell you to kick rocks.”

They aren’t just receiving assistance, though. FreeFuse has also been lending a hand and collaborating with other entrepreneurs online, working with founders from Techstars Startup Accelerator and lunchclub.ai—a platform that connects like-minded professionals.

One of their biggest challenges so far has been finding another team member to bring onboard. “It’s difficult, and I often find myself trying hard to fit a mold to someone. I want to bring on talented people who fit the culture and appreciate and share the same passion in our ideas,” Mike said.

Outside of FreeFuse, Jonathan enjoys following sports teams from his hometown, Los Angeles. He also enjoys reading and watching self-development media to keep himself sharp. Mike enjoys filming and recording guitar-driven music. He’s also a frequenter of live music performances and comedy shows.

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