05272017
7-Day Forecast | Currently in Provo

UV50 Startup to Watch: No. 8 Fuze

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FAMILY MATTERS  This brother and sister team is toying with greatness. Together, Kristy Sevy and Kyle Muir have led a crew that’s passionate about tech, kids, and tech for kids. They’re pictured here at The Startup Building in Provo. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

FAMILY MATTERS
This brother and sister team is toying with greatness. Together, Kristy Sevy and Kyle Muir have led a crew that’s passionate about tech, kids, and tech for kids. They’re pictured here at The Startup Building in Provo. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Fuze Interactive is lit. As creators of the ZUBI Flyer — a hackable toy that combines tech education with hands-on play — these S.T.E.A.M. entrepreneurs are inspired by passion, empowerment, and a generation of kids who want to know the who, what, where, when and why, why, why. And with a pre-seed of $100k, they’re on their way to game, set, match.    


I graduated from BYU in marriage and family therapy and have been a stay-at-home mom for the past eight and a half years. My husband was in law school at the University of Utah, and I was doing my thang.

My oldest daughter, Kenzie, has always had a strong interest in STEM. And I’ve always been able to satisfy her curiosity. But this past year, she started asking about things way over my head. Things about robotics and coding. I didn’t have a clue where to start.

Trying to be a good mom, I searched online for products to teach her robotics. Everything I found was either intimidating or expensive … or both.

My brother, Kyle, was over one night while I was expressing my frustration. Kyle, being the entrepreneur that he is, told me to do something about it.

It was heavy on my mind. I started researching and got sucked into all these statistics. Did you know women only make up 24 percent of all STEM fields? And that girls over the age of 10 are culturally getting pushed out of STEM? I have three daughters. Those stats are not OK with me.

The name Fuze Interactive comes from Kristy Sevy’s desire to connect two worlds. 

I knew I wanted to create a connected toy that girls would think is cool. So after countless research and conversations, Kyle and I decided to take the plunge.

I talked it over with my husband, who had graduated from law school by this time. He turned down multiple job offers from out of state so I could stay here and start working on our startup.

For our product, simple is the goal. I want any kid to be able to pick it up and not be intimidated by it. I want them to learn coding and electronics in a simple way.

For the shape, I instantly thought of a Frisbee. And thus began our ZUBI Flyer where you can move through demos like red hot zubi, copy cat and more. And the best part? It’s scalable with the child as they develop. Eventually, they’ll feel confident enough to hack into the toy. Everything is open source, so they can ultimately create something entirely new. If we had this toy as kids, we’d probably be living on Mars right now.

Kids are smart. This generation of kids wants to know how stuff works. They want to understand how technology can manipulate, enhance or create an entirely new reality.

There is a team of four of us. I lead the vision and the why of what we’re doing. Kyle leads the business from a developer’s perspective. Ron Madsen is a brilliant savant of electrical engineering — aka the smartest guy I’ve ever met. He is a grandpa, and his passion is education for children. Amber Alvarez moved here from Manhattan to be our illustrator of strategic intelligence. She’s incredible.

It’s been interesting to be in these tech business meetings over the past year. For the most part people are respectful, but without a doubt the people we meet with look to Kyle — the male co-founder — for all the answers.

That dynamic is a full-circle reason why we’re doing what we’re doing. Too often those negative interactions cause women to hesitate sharing their ideas. When that female intuition is lost, there is a void. Coding is the future, and to not have female intuition in tech would be a mistake. It would be a crime.

“When that female intuition is lost, there is a void. Coding is the future, and to not have female intuition in tech would be a mistake. It would be a crime.” —Kristy Sevy, founder of Fuze Interactive

Having said that, there are perks to being a woman in technology in Utah. The women I meet in tech want to help other women in tech. They want to be your friend and your mentor. They want to build you up. There is nothing else like this incredible community.

We’ll launch our Kickstarter Sept. 7. After that, we’ll raise more venture capital funds and attend toy fairs and trade shows. We’re going to hit this hard core.

It’ll be sold online and in specialty retail stores. I also want to get this in schools. I view this as a way to bolster my community. We want teachers to have access to this type of education.

It sucks to be a startup. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve gained 15 pounds. I’ve been more stressed out than I’ve ever been. But I’ve also never been more confident. It’s one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done.

Kenzie is still my inspiration in all this. I think of my oldest daughter and her sisters in every decision we make for the company. We are passionate about giving parents the knowledge, tools and know-how to empower their children to go out and make the world a better place. I feel that passion every day when I wake up. I want to create a world where my daughters know they can learn, do and create.

See all the 2016 Startups to Watch HERE, and all the 2016 UV50 winners HERE.

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