Deep engagement with the world is Christopher Cole’s forte. As he graduates in 2014, the senior from Detroit is in the midst of launching a new app especially programmed for smart phones. Based on location, Kokonow.com serves as a real-time platform allowing for people to post updates and comments on what’s happening in their corner of the world, no matter where that might be.
Cole, whose strength is in making connections, has partnered with three other Denison students, each offering their assets toward the venture. Edward Takahashi ’14, a computer science and math major from Japan, brought his experience in software engineering and user interface design, and Michael Ma ’14, a computer science major and math minor, supplied database building expertise and software engineering of network platforms. The key designer of the team was Ramiro Trejo, who graduated last fall and currently works in Chicago as a freelance designer. His design skills in user experience have proven successful for other start-ups.
“We believe anything is possible and with the right effort and direct action we can make our dreams come true.”
Together, the four students created a compelling product that has gained interest from a Brazilian investor, making this a truly global enterprise.
One may wonder how an investor from Brazil got involved in a project that originated on a campus in Ohio. For the answer one must delve more deeply into Cole’s history.
During the summer of 2013, Cole traveled to China as a representative for Environmental Occupational Consulting and Training Company as a U.S. certified asbestos contractor/ supervisor. He oversaw the training courses in Shanghai to meet U.S. environmental and OSHEA standard regulations for future construction of large corporate offices.
Traveling on the plane, he met his future mentor from Brazil. “We started talking and exchanged contact information, and when this opportunity came up, I thought he would be interested in giving us guidance,” said Cole.
Already the author of a book, “Mindfullessons,” and a motivational speaker, Cole’s entrepreneurial spirit has been evident since he was a young boy. He was the youngest intern in Detroit for the Obama campaign and was recognized by the president for his campaign work and for his Eagle Scout project.
Cole also created and implemented a Detroit Autobahn event, which celebrated the Motor City’s history. “The Autobahn is a concept designed to restore excitement by bringing people together through cars, international food and culture and entertainment,” said Cole. “I wanted to create something that could build up Detroit economically and enhance the social living environment.”
Though he is a religion major, Cole worked with Wesley Walter, a professor of physics, on environmental technologies project to design and create a phone charger that doesn’t use conventional electricity to recharge a battery.
“Ever since my time on my high school robotics team, I’ve been fascinated by engineering design. Dr. Walter freely shared his knowledge with me, a non-major. I really appreciated that.”
John Jackson, an associate professor of religion and black studies, imparted to Cole another knowledge base. “Dr. Jackson taught me how to connect with empathy, how important it is to understand from another’s perspective.”
Cole utilized those lessons on design and perspective for Kokonow. “It’s important to have empathy with your customer, to understand where they are coming from,” he said. “Kokonow is about the intersection of the user and the world.”
“We believe anything is possible, and with the right effort and direct action we can make our dreams come true,” said Cole. “We hope to see people using Kokonow across the globe.”