Twenty-two-year-old Zac Cooner and 21-year-old Chance Hudson have gone from college students to C-suite founders of a company that has garnered more than $600,000-worth of investment since its inception in August 2016.
While the young pair is “working for peanuts” to continue to grow their social platform, "Cosmunity," their progress has been swift.
After attending the Dallas Fan Expo last year, the duo (who met at UT Dallas) discerned what they viewed as an opportunity to serve the “geek community” in a brand-new way. Cosmunity is part social network, part online marketplace, part event calendar – all geared toward fans of geek culture. It now has more than 10,000 users nationwide, a threshold crossed just two months after launching in the app store.
During the rapid rise, Cooner (chief operations officer) and Hudson (chief technical officer) partnered with 35-year-old Cole Egger (chief executive officer) to turn brainstorm into business.
“Between the fundraising, the technical capabilities and the design that we put together, that was enough to get the ball rolling last summer,” Cooner said.
While Cooner and Hudson have deferred their attendance at UTD to focus on the app for the time being, the UTD Seed Fund recently awarded them a $25,000 grant.
“It’s pretty awesome to implement the things [we have] learned to create cool stuff,” Hudson said.
By name, the app (available on both iOS and Android) references the fan culture of dressing up like characters from movies, television, video games, books, etc. But users will find that the platform welcomes all types of geek fandom. The app is three-pronged.
First, it houses a comic book-style feed that allows users to post, share and follow each other. It’s the most personalized aspect of the app and an area for possible expansion as analytics allow Cosmunity’s founders to help curate predictive content to each user, much like the titans of social media do.
Second, Cosmunity offers an online marketplace for fan-created and collectible items. This is one area where the app will generate revenue, as some user-to-user sales have fetched thousands of dollars.
Third, the calendar function of the app highlights local events and connections among attendees. This serves the overarching theme that Cosmunity was conceived for: helping people get together to share their passion.
The embracing of inner geek-ness is what Cosmunity is all about, but it’s based in something universal. For the same reason sports memorabilia, fandom and event attendance are all fixtures in our society, geek culture and the coming together of its community are catching on.
“The rise of geek culture directly correlates with an overarching need to find common ground with our peers,” Cooner said. “As a country, and even as a planet, we are experiencing a time of extreme division amongst people. A remarkable thing about geek culture, and more specifically, the convention scene, is that it serves as a unifying thread that we can all celebrate, without conflict or confrontation."