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The Startup: Crush is an online space fantasy RPG that helps socially-awkward 16-20yo boys and young men develop confidence and better conversation skills that set them up for romantic and social success.
The Founders: Nemo (Tisch ‘21, GSAS ‘23) and Meesha (Tisch ‘21)
Q: How did you first become interested in entrepreneurship?
NEMO: I had never considered myself an entrepreneur beyond the ironic “girl boss” Instagram captions and it almost feels like entrepreneurship found me rather than the other way around – there was a problem that (soon-to-be) users were coming to me with and there was no solution out there. I’m fortunate to come from a family of entrepreneurs and go-getters so whenever I stumble or fall into self-doubt there’s always someone to urge me to dream bigger.
MEESHA: I never saw myself becoming an entrepreneur – I always saw myself as an artist first. My introduction to entrepreneurship was quite sudden however looking back it’s not surprising that I ended up here. I grew up around entrepreneurs and many of my friends are in the space, so when the opportunity presented itself it felt very natural and I found myself wondering why I didn’t think to do this sooner!
Q: What first sparked the idea for Crush and your interest in the industry you're working in?
NEMO: The book Losing It by journalist Sophia Smith Galer, my experience streaming on Twitch, and my two younger brothers.
MEESHA: Nemo and I have had many lengthy conversations about the venture – from when it was [the original concept] Shame to when it eventually pivoted to Crush. As time went on, I became increasingly intrigued by what she was working on, and she kindly asked me to become a member of the team when it became clear that we both really cared about this cause and had unique skill sets we could bring together to make something great. I am endlessly grateful to her for bringing me on and trusting me to be a part of this!
Q: In your own words, how do you describe CRUSH and its mission to someone new for the first time?
NEMO: We're helping teen boys to level-up their social skills by gamifying exercises and self-help practices that we've learned from our theater and journalism training. It's Cowboy Bebop meets virtual novel meets the older sister you never had.
MEESHA: We’re bringing self improvement to young, socially isolated men in a package that makes it interactive, fun, and non-intimidating.
Q: What three words would you use to describe your founder journey?
NEMO: Trusting, Surprising, and Validating
MEESHA: Unpredictable, Empowering, and Fun
Q: What has been the most rewarding moment of your founder journey so far?
NEMO: Talking to users about the new game format and hearing that they're not only excited about the story but also want invites to next chapters and are waiting for the in-game exercises to actually start learning the social skills.
MEESHA: The most rewarding moments have probably been the conversations we have had with young men who are excited about what we are building and see the necessity and urgency behind it. It’s always a source of renewed inspiration and validation.
Q: What’s the biggest piece of advice that you would give to aspiring student founders?
NEMO: Talk to users, trust your gut, and keep showing up for the work and your peers.
MEESHA: If you ever feel stuck or like you’ve hit a wall, I’d say the best way to move through that is going back to customer discovery. These are the people you are trying to help and in that sense they will hold the answers to your problems.
Q: Favorite book/movie?
NEMO: Fight Club and The Sirens of Titan
MEESHA: Bridesmaids and Romeo & Juliet