HUSSLUP, currently an invite-only beta, is a job search and networking app for creative professionals in the media and entertainment industry to connect with studios and production companies looking to hire talent.
Today, the company announced a web version of its mobile app. It will roll out widely next week.
Much like LinkedIn, HUSSLUP allows users to write posts, network with others and search for gigs.
However, instead of being targeted to the general public, the app aims to be a central hub for creative professionals in the entertainment industry, above or below the line, to collaborate on a project, promote an upcoming movie/TV show, invite others to an event, find new talent and more.
Other community tools include the ability to create a group, share encrypted creative samples, chat via in-app messenger and create annotated contact lists for each project, movie or show.
In tandem with the web launch, the company also introduced new web-based features called “Pro Search,” a proprietary feature that allows for more in-depth searches, and “Serendipity Mode,” a Tinder-like section on the platform where users can quickly connect with other members.
The new ProSearch tools provide a way for staffers to look up talent based on specific criteria, such as their credit level, representation, go-to genre/project types, availability, locations where they’re willing to work, professional affiliations and more.
Users can also save potential hires to a list, where they can then add comments, note which person they hired and share with others.
Notably, the tool also allows users to sort search results to discover diverse hires. HUSSLUP claims that approximately 65% of its current membership self-identifies as diverse in at least one of the following categories: gender, race and LGBTQ+.
The industry continues to be criticized for underrepresentation, so HUSSLUP’s new feature is a significant addition to its toolbox.
Among the top 200 highest-grossing theatrical releases at the North American box office in 2022, people of color (POC) made up only 22% of lead actors, 17% of directors and 12% of writers, per UCLA’s 2023 Hollywood Diversity Report.
Web users are also getting “Serendipity Mode,” a feature that lets them “swipe” – or, in this case, click right or left with their mouse – on tiles that feature profiles of members, companies, and communities. The cards are organized randomly to give users a better chance of discovering a wide range of people.
In the future, the company plans to launch more web-based features, H Shuster, founder of HUSSLUP, told TechCrunch. This includes “Project Rosters,” a feature that would enable users to take a list of their hires and generate call sheets, anonymized statistical reports for tax incentives and more.
HUSSLUP also intends to create a text, image and video search tool as well as AI-powered recommendations.
Unlike the majority of professions, there’s no rule book for how to get a career in entertainment. Most of the time, you either have connections in the right places, luck is on your side that week or — if you’re fortunate enough — you’re a nepo baby.
Hence HUSSLUP’s tagline, “Transforming Hollywood from clique to click.”
Schuster founded HUSSLUP as a potential solution to this ongoing clique problem–“the antiquated game of telephone,” as she and her team like to call it.
An executive producer with 20 years of experience in Hollywood, Shuster has worked on reality shows like “MasterChef” and “The Biggest Loser,” and knows all too well how frustrating it can be to find new talent.
“When I was sitting behind the desk of hiring, you know, I would literally make five or ten phone calls to colleagues, friends, a manager, agent, and get five or ten names,” Shuster told TechCrunch. “You don’t know these people, so you’re then trying to get their credits on IMDb and their creative samples on YouTube… It’s super painful and disaggregated, and it can take a really long time to find someone who’s available and then vet them.”
“There has to be a more efficient way and also a more joyful way, frankly, for creative talent to first of all have a place to aggregate all of their professional information and build a profile that really allows them to tell the story of themselves and present themselves to the industry the way they want to be seen,” she added.
All the profiles on HUSSLUP have verified credits to ensure everyone on the app has worked in the industry at some point. About 75% of HUSSLUP users are at least mid-career, Shuster claims, ranging from directors, writers, producers, editors, animators, composers, music supervisors, art directors and more.
However, once the app exits beta, the company wants to eventually invite students and recent graduates who are still looking to break into the industry. HUSSLUP is currently working with a number of universities, including NYU and the American Film Institute, among others.
The company also partners with numerous production companies, studios and organizations, including Universal Studio Group, Universal Pictures, Blumhouse, Will Smith-founded Westbrook, the Russo Brothers’ AGBO, Tyra Banks’ Bankable Productions, Don Cheadle’s This Radicle Act and Women in Film, among others.
In December 2022, HUSSLUP raised a $2.5 million seed round, led by f7 Ventures and Fuel Capital, with additional funding from Ulu Ventures, Gaingels and 360 Venture Collective.
Previously, HUSSLUP raised a pre-seed investment in 2021 from the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs accelerator powered by Techstars.
To date, HUSSLUP has around 6,000 members, according to the company.