Business & Tech, Features

INTERVIEW: Questrom students create Chuzu, fashion-based platform

Questrom School of Business students Kadeem Clarke, Archit Wadhwa and Rishabh Dhawan created “Chuzu,” an app designed for people within the BU community to rent, buy and sell designer clothes. PHOTO BY BRIAN SONG/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Questrom School of Business students Kadeem Clarke, Archit Wadhwa and Rishabh Dhawan created “Chuzu,” a platform designed for people users to rent, buy and sell designer clothes. PHOTO BY BRIAN SONG/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

When Archit Wadhwa and Rishabh Dhawan, juniors in the Questrom School of Business, traveled to Mumbai for the Wharton India Economic Forum, they didn’t expect that one year later they would be talking to investors, hiring interns and attending challenges for their self-made, fashion-based startup. However, one Facebook post, a brainstorming session and a couple conversations later, Boston University’s latest startup was created: Chuzu.

Chuzu is a peer-to-peer platform for Boston’s trendiest to rent or buy designer clothes, according to its website. Mainly appealing to students between the ages of 18 and 26, the sharing application gives people the opportunity to rent brands like Prada or Canada Goose for a day, an occasion or a special event.

“We were thinking about how a lot of platforms have becoming sharing platforms, such as Uber and Airbnb,” Dhawan said. “So we got together some focus groups and surveys to test our idea.”

Co-founder Wadhwa added that Chuzu was based off of an aggregated model to solve a problem, whether it be lack of closet space for new purchases or lack of funds to buy a Canada Goose product.

“You should always start young, because the mistakes you make when you’re young are much less costly,” Dhawan said on the decision to create Chuzu. “Both of us are so interested in startups, so it was like, ‘Why not?’”

After the duo began brainstorming in January, they soon brought in Kadeem Clarke, a junior in Questrom, to help out with marketing and social media. Clarke is now the third co-founder of Chuzu, and has helped grow social content and marketing aspects of the company.

“I definitely saw that the idea was something that could be really feasible,” Clarke said. “It’s something new that could be the start of a trend. It kind of aligns with the consumer’s journey, how Uber does.”

The three have worked together to make Chuzu a reality. After seeing a Facebook post from BU Venture Accelerator, Wadhwa proposed the idea of competing and at the least getting some guidance. The team liked Chuzu’s idea, Dhawan said, and thus the true power behind the company began. Project Manager of BU Venture Accelerator Alexandra Harbour has been a mentor for the team since May, Dhawan said.

“The classes we are taking right now directly help our business,” Clarke said. “In CORE, we have to create our own service and use marketing operations statics to perfect the business model. It works perfectly well with what we’re doing. It is the semester to learn how to applicate.”

Questrom has played an integral role in Chuzu’s creation and growth. Under the guidance of Ian Mashiter, an entrepreneurial professor at BU and director of the BUzz Lab Early Stage Investor, the team won the BUzzLab Open House, sending them to compete in HUBweek’s 2016 Beantown Throwdown Wednesday. The Beantown Throwdown is a student pitch competition that celebrates the city’s next top entrepreneurs, according to its website.

“[Someone told us], ‘it’s our company and nobody can present it better than us,’” Dhawan wrote in an email to The Daily Free Press. “That really helped us … Chuzu is now at its final stages.”

While they did not make it to the final three of the challenge, the BU undergrads gained valuable networking and advice. They also hired two interns, and are meeting with a potential investor in the coming weeks, Wadhwa said.

Even as full-time students, the three plan to help out during the soft and hard launch of Chuzu. They will serve as the clothing delivery people that mediate the sharing. As Clarke noted, “the extra service is always good.”

The team explained that while they created Chuzu to share designer clothing, they also looked for a more ground-level goal: helping out local designers.

“[Local designers] don’t have a way to sell their clothes, so [Chuzu] can be a platform them,” Clarke said. “We’re providing access to more clothing.”

As for now, the juniors are preparing for the soft launch of Chuzu. They hope to use the dense population of college and international students to their advantage. While the launch will be within a five-mile radius of BU’s campus, they hope to expand to more campuses and more cities in the future, according to Wadhwa.

“It all happened by chance, attending that conference in Bombay, seeing that Facebook post, thinking of an idea that people like,” Wadhwa said. “The idea came by itself. That talk … that was a moment for us.”

A previous version of this story described Chuzu as an app rather than a platform. This correction is reflected in the story above. We regret the error.

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