By Bennett Marcus
It’s likely that someone in your life is a Dancing With the Stars fan, and would love to speak personally with Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Peta Murgatroyd, Tony Dovolani or Rumer Willis from the show. And now they can, by downloading the “Skoozi” app (http://www.skooziapp.com)
“At some point in our lives, most of us have wished we could communicate directly with our favorite star, athlete, singer or business professional, but it has been virtually impossible to do so,” Skoozi CEO Lee Davis says. “Even if you purchased a ticket to an event where the celebrity is performing, the chances of having a quality interaction have been slim. Skoozi changes that and makes personal, meaningful interactions possible.”
The user-friendly app allows you to create a personalized account and then choose the star you’d like to chat with. You can either choose to live-video chat, if that star is online, and speak face-to-face with them, or request a recorded message, such as a birthday, anniversary, or graduation greeting. Stars can opt to allow their chats to go public, in which case users are provided with a copy of their video to post on social media and be the envy of their friends.
At charity fundraising events, personal recorded messages from celebrities are popular auction items, and stars listed with Skoozi have the ability to donate all or a portion of their rates to the charity of their choosing, so the app is also a great way to give back.
The idea was the brainchild of former NFL player Dennis Roland, a partner in Skoozi. As a pro athlete, Roland often got requests from fans wanting him to wish happy birthday to their son or friend. Roland is shy, and didn’t know how to respond. “He talked to some other teammates, and they were having the same kind of issues,” Davis says. Davis’s nephew, Michael McCluney, had prior experience with apps, and the three of them launched the service last December.
The app is free to download, and you can go to a celebrity’s profile and see previous videos that they have done, so the site can be a destination, even if you are not ready to make a purchase, and users can request to speak to a star. Each star sets his or her own rates, and those can fluctuate.
As for the app’s name, Davis explained that all three founders being Southern gentlemen, if they were to approach a celebrity, the first thing they would say is “Excuse me,” and the name is a play on the Italian “scusi.”