Quinnipiac freshman revamps the world of texting

Quinnipiac+freshman+revamps+the+world+of+texting

Kelly Ryan

Evan Rigsby is a freshman at Quinnipiac and is also the CEO of his own company, Cobra Innovative Technologies LLC. Rigsby’s company creates sticker packs used through iMessage.

“We’re trying to create a more high def emoji,” Rigsby said. “We want to create a new way that people are communicating with each other because yes, you have emojis… but this is something that no one has really done before.”

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Users can drag stickers onto their iMessage conversation, resize them and angle them. Users can drag as many stickers as they want into the conversation or insert them as a separate image to include a caption. However, the sticker packs are not used solely for entertainment.

What sets this sticker pack app apart from the rest is the app’s ability to brand and advertise companies.

Cobra’s debut sticker pack was the Yimello Smoothies sticker pack. Kostas Sousoulas, a sophomore entrepreneurship major at Quinnipiac, founded the smoothie company, which advertises pre-packaged, all natural, non-GMO smoothies, according to the company’s website.

Rigsby and Sousoulas met in an entrepreneurship class, and when Rigsby told Sousoulas about his company’s mission, Sousoulas was on board with the creation of the Yimello Smoothies sticker pack. Cobra has photos of Yimello Smoothies products that can be sent as stickers through iMessage.

“Evan is a very intelligent kid, and I trust the work he does. The sticker pack that Evan’s company made is a great tool to promote our brand,” Sousoulas said. “There are a lot of creative things you can do with our stickers, and our customers use it when texting their friends.”

Rigsby said when business owners like Sousoulas are networking with high level companies, presenting a sticker pack will leave a lasting impression.

“When you’re talking with those people, you can give them your business card, but how many other people have done that?” Rigsby said. “Instead, it’s ‘here’s my sticker pack’. It kind of leaves that thing in their head.”

In addition to the Yimello Smoothies sticker pack, which is free, Cobra has also released a St. Patrick’s Day sticker pack. This pack has a $1 price tag.

In order to start the company, Rigsby filed for LLC (Limited Liability Company), so that he could sign up as a company in the state of Connecticut. He also filed for a few other business papers in order to have his business represented on the iMessage app store. With these documents, the sticker pack apps will list Cobra Innovative Technologies LLC as their company.

Rigsby believes that app production requires team effort. In high school, he had his first trial run of the company with some of his friends who all had different roles within the team. After learning how successful teamwork can be and once he came to college, Rigsby hired two Quinnipiac student interns to help him run his company.

“With apps, yes, there are those people who can do it alone, but for the most part, having a team really makes a good app… I tried to carry that into the company now,” Rigsby said.

Freshman Lauren Miller serves as the interactive digital design intern for Cobra. Rigsby said there is an emphasis on artwork when it comes to creating the sticker packs. He considers himself more of the programmer and developer of his company, specializing in coding and working on the business side of the company. He leaves the artistic portion to Miller.

“I really believe in having people who are smarter than me in specific things control different parts,” Rigsby said. “That’s how I’m going to learn.”

Rigsby also hired freshman Madeline Lough as the social media and marketing intern for Cobra. Rigsby met Lough in his First-year Seminar class and reached out to her after seeing her poster presentation relating to a marketing project.

“That was by chance. I usually never risk doing something like that because I like to know the person but (Lough) turned out to be one of the best workers I’ve had,” Rigsby said.

Rigsby’s belief in strong brand logos combined with love for animals led him to naming his business Cobra Innovative Technologies LLC.

“When I was doing (the logo), I was like, ‘I want something really badass,’” Rigsby said. “That was literally my thought process and what’s better than a cobra?”

Rigsby is a double major in entrepreneurship and computer science, but his background in programming with iPhones and iPads began when he was in seventh grade. His uncle gave him a book about programming at a family party, and from there, he was hooked.

Though he’s learning more of the computer science-related skills currently in college, Rigsby has background in business through his family.

Rigsby’s father owns his own company, so he had a leg up on the entrepreneurship side of his company. He attributes much of what he has learned about running a business to his father.

According to Rigsby, two of his professors, Dr. Dale Jasinski and Professor David Tomcyzk, have been his backbone in setting up the business side of the company.

Tomcyzk met Rigsby through Dr. Jasinski, and then had him as a student in his entrepreneurial skills class. Tomcyzk said Rigsby came to him looking for help with how to develop contracts and recruit interns and how to strategically grow his business. Tomcyzk said Rigsby had already officially started the business by the time he got to help.

“I act as a sounding board for him, and I provide advice when he’s facing a challenge he isn’t sure how to handle,” Tomczyk said. “I’ve also connected him to a few resources and people around campus that I happen to know about to help him grow his business faster.”

Tomcyzk believes Cobra is going to build slowly at first, due to the fact that it is entering a challenging market. However, Tomcyzk said that is not a deterrent to Rigsby.

“Like a cobra in the grass, you’ll only see some ripples in the grass before the company rises up and makes a huge mark on the industry,” Tomcyzk said.

Tomcyzk said the hardest will be getting Cobra known in the app market, but said Rigsby has already started to think through how to handle that, including regular release schedule, offering free stickers and having premium packs.

Rigsby is able to see how many consumers have downloaded the program and can even see individually which state each purchase went through. He can also see how many impressions, or pageviews in the app store, that the sticker packs are getting.

“It took almost two months to get about 3,000 impressions for the Yimello Smoothie one,” Rigsby said. “But with the entertainment one (St. Patrick’s Day), we’re almost at 10,000 impressions in a week.”

As far as where Cobra is headed, Rigsby said he plans to work on networking, building relationships with other companies, schools and even individuals who can use sticker packs to promote their businesses.

“With business, you don’t have to be the smartest on in the field,” Rigsby said. “You just have to have that willingness and that drive to go every day and to do your best every day.”