What do you do after starring in one of the most epic television series in history? If you’re Maisie Williams, life after playing supreme badass Arya Stark on Game of Thrones has been more about helping others realize their creative dreams than it has about her own acting endeavors.
All morning long, TechCrunch Managing Editor Jordan Crook, the main stage moderator at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019, kept dropping GOT references to the point where attendees were questioning her seeming obsession with a show that aired its last episode five months ago.
“There’s a reason, I’m not a crazy person,” Crook assured the audience as Williams, an unannounced surprise guest, took the stage for a conversation about her new startup, the internet, binge-watching and, of course, GOT.
Williams recently co-founded Daisie — essentially a collaboration and talent discovery platform — with Dom Santry when they realized that “there’s a huge problem with breaking into creative industries” as “people really struggle with connectivity and finding people who they can collaborate with.”
The 22-year-old Briton recounted some of the challenges she faced as she tried to get Daisie off the ground. She said that “there was no problem getting into rooms with amazing VCs.” However, getting their attention was just the beginning. “You’ve still got to pitch them… you’ve still got to convince them… Convincing them is like convincing someone to give you a role. It’s like an audition.”
It would seem that Williams and Santry nailed the audition. In May, Daisie announced it had secured $2.5 million in seed funding from Founders Fund, 8VC, Kleiner Perkins and Shrug Capital. Williams said she is looking forward to more funding and forging partnerships with companies that can help Daisie expand further. It currently has more than 100,000 users and is growing fast.
“It’s actually where the company is heading right now,” she said. “We want to work on partnerships where our users can have like a real brief from a real client, and pitch their ideas, then get them made — and have a budget and be paid for their work which is — one of the most difficult things within the creative industry is to get paid for what you’re doing,” she said.
“At the moment we’ve got a really wonderful community that’s thriving and creating these amazing projects. But in terms of transferring that into the real world and helping people actually get jobs — these partnerships are going to be really, really great for that,” she added.
One of Daisie’s unique attributes is its lack of popularity metrics. There are no follower counts here. “We didn’t want follower counts,” Williams explained. “I think that rewarding people for these typical kinds of metrics can be quite damaging, and can make you feel like just because you’re not popular then maybe you’re not talented. And that’s just not true. The thing about creative endeavors is that the things that are popular aren’t necessarily like the best things and just because something that you do isn’t liked by many people it doesn’t mean it’s not incredible.”
Talking GOT (Don’t Worry, No Spoilers)
The conversation inevitably turned to Game of Thrones, which Williams called “such an amazing opportunity.” Although she hasn’t taken on any acting projects since GOT ended its eight-year run earlier this year, the actress formerly known as Arya Stark said that “if I don’t do anything like that again, I’m not mad about it.”
“It was pretty one of a kind,” Williams said of GOT. “And I think my goal now is not to do something like that, but to do something that people maybe don’t expect, and to play a role that people wouldn’t imagine me as. Because I think that would be a lot more fulfilling than trying to surpass anything that I’ve already done.”
During the panel’s closing lightning round, Crook asked Williams if she prefers dire wolves or dragons. Trying to stay true to her Stark character, she first answered wolves.
“I don’t know actually,” she wavered. “I say that because I played Arya Stark. But really it’s dragons!”
To watch the the entire conversation, click here.