Fizz, the nameless social app for Gen Z, provides a market for faculty college students

Teddy Solomon simply moved into a brand new home in Palo Alto, so he turned to the Stanford Fizz neighborhood to assist furnish his room.

“Each time I am going to purchase one thing from somebody, I ask them in regards to the market as a result of I’m actually serious about their expertise,” Solomon, co-founder of Fizz, informed TechCrunch. He’s particularly excited a few $100 TV he received from a grad pupil who was transferring away for the summer time.

“Did you inform him who you might be?” requested Rakesh Mathur, a seasoned entrepreneur and investor whom Solomon recruited to be Fizz’s CEO.

“Sure, as a result of I requested him about 100 questions in regards to the market,” Solomon replied calmly.

When TechCrunch met for the primary time Fizz, co-founded by Stanford, the nameless social media platform that has separate communities for particular person faculty campuses was solely at a dozen schools in 2022. Now the app is reside at 240 faculty campuses and 60 excessive faculties, and the crew has expanded to 30 full-time workers and 4,000 volunteer moderators at faculties. Fizz has attracted 41.5 million {dollars} via a number of rounds of funding, which has contributed to the app’s rising presence in college tradition.

Even in these early conversations, Solomon talked about Fizz’s plans to open a market the place college students may purchase and promote issues like garments, textbooks, bikes, and extra. Faculty college students usually make such transactions as a result of they transfer from one dorm to a different every year, and perhaps they need to get some a refund for his or her little-used calculus textbook.

Picture sources: Fizzy

Solomon believes the marketplace for a neighborhood shopping for and promoting platform focusing on Gen Z is vast open.

“There’s a type of preconception that if I promote one thing on Craigslist, I’m going to get kidnapped,” Solomon stated. “And the Fb market… Gen Z doesn’t use Fb.”

His hunch seems to be right. {The marketplace} characteristic was rolled out to a whole lot of Fizz campuses between March and Could this 12 months in preparation for the predictable end-of-semester gross sales rush. Solomon stated Fizz has posted 50,000 listings on the platform, in addition to despatched 150,000 direct messages about merchandise. The preferred class is attire, which accounts for about 25% of listings.

However Fb Market will not be a simple competitor to beat. Some youthful Fb customers say they simply go to the platform for the market. Though Fewer Gen Z Customers on FbMeta is engaged on recapture consideration of this technology.

Funds aren’t but built-in into Fizz, so customers are answerable for navigating their very own gross sales. Solomon stated Fizz may create a fee construction to make {the marketplace} extra user-friendly, however he’s not serious about monetization but. Whereas Fizz could also be flush with enterprise funding, that traditional Silicon Valley transfer of prioritizing progress over income isn’t as possible within the subsequent technology of social media.

Fizz is totally nameless, even on {the marketplace}. However to get into the Fizz faculty neighborhood, you have to confirm your faculty electronic mail handle. So whereas there’s at all times the danger of assembly a stranger — even when they go to your faculty — customers appear much less hesitant to purchase from their classmates.

Picture sources: Fizzy

“Certainly one of our favourite statistics that we had been trying on the different day is that on common, each vendor is approached by two folks earlier than they promote,” Solomon stated. “If you realize they reside in a close-by dorm, you don’t have any cause to seek out out whether or not they’re legit or not. It is fairly easy.”

However just like the nameless social platforms that got here earlier than it, Fizz has struggled to take care of a secure setting throughout all of its campuses. In a single high-profile case, the Fizz neighborhood wreaked havoc on highschoolas college students hid behind anonymity to disgrace and torment different college students and lecturers.

“We had two communities that we voluntarily closed primarily based on suggestions from mother and father and admins,” Solomon stated. Since then, Fizz has refocused its efforts on content material moderation. Previously, Fizz paid part-time pupil moderators to watch its communities. Now, the corporate has a devoted workers that works on belief and security, and it makes use of OpenAI know-how to make its automated moderation extra strong.

However these efforts is probably not sufficient to allay considerations. Faculty directors have seen horror situations in nameless apps earlier than — bear in mind YikYak? The president of the 16-campus College of North Carolina introduced plans to ban nameless apps like Fizz, Whisper, and Sidechat from the college. This fashion, these college students won’t be able to purchase used textbooks on the Fizz market.

“We’re very conscious that for us as an nameless platform for Gen Z, moderation must be the muse,” Mathur informed TechCrunch.

TechCrunch was given entry to at least one college’s Fizz neighborhood. College students posted about intercourse and medicines—subjects allowed on Fizz—however didn’t bully one another or instigate poisonous conversations. However this is only one neighborhood amongst a whole lot. Whereas Fizz’s momentum in increasing its content material moderation crew is promising, even the most important and best-resourced social platforms nonetheless battle with toxicity.

Fizz’s argument for the platform’s anonymity is that it encourages college students to speak overtly about how they’re actually feeling — when a pupil sees posts about how different folks may be burdened about an examination or having hassle socializing, they’ll know they’re not alone in that have. Then again, customers may discover some nice campus-related memes. Or, now that there’s a market, they could get an enormous low cost on a TV.

Up to date 7/3/24, 4:17 PM ET: Clothes makes up 25% of the objects in Fizz’s catalog.

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