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Cole aims to make success happen in his hometown

Fri, Aug 31, 2012

One on One

Ryan Cole sees a lot of opportunity for young professionals in Colorado Springs. That’s why the 31-year-old came home.

He left Colorado Springs in his dust after graduating from Cheyenne Mountain High School in 1999. He studied at Colorado State University and then followed a television career to Wichita, Kan. After the shine wore off TV work, he got into marketing and started a business — Colab Digital — with friends.

He sees a lot of the same opportunities for young people in Colorado Springs that existed in Wichita. Both are smaller cities that don’t naturally attract young professionals, which means there are chances to get in on the ground floor and shape the community. The difference: Colorado Springs has better weather and a much prettier backdrop.

Cole moved here with his wife and plans to shake things up. He hopes to build a new branch of his business with local offices and local clients in Colorado Springs while entrenching himself in the fabric of the town.

 

Tell us about your business, Colab Digital.

Colab Digital is a strategic marketing and branding company. We work with business owners and marketing departments to help craft the business’s brand and then work with the thousand opportunities out there to help businesses connect to their customers from traditional media to online media to word of mouth. Think of an iceberg. We work with companies to create the 80 percent or so that’s below the surface – things like the way your employees act, to the colors you use. Then we make the top 20 percent or so that people can see pretty and functional to drive people to your business. The results are a lot better with us than the fate of those aboard the Titanic.

What are your plans for growing the company in Colorado Springs?

We have some very specific growth goals in the Springs that include hiring a team of brand managers, developers, designers and of course tons and tons of interns. We have a young mind-set that we enjoy starting with interns and promoting from within. We actually really love giving people a place to be creative and have fun while helping businesses succeed. We’ve found that’s a win-win for our employees as well as our customers.

Where have you wandered and why did you come back?

After college at Colorado State University, I moved to Wichita, Kan., for work at a television station and spent most of the past nine years there. I had an incredible opportunity to start Colab with two really great men and now we’re expanding our worth here. I had a brief stint doing some really cool travel marketing along the eastern part of the U.S. for Hershey, Chevy, Walgreens and Can-Am Spyder. I ended up coming back to Colorado Springs after finding the most perfect wife because we wanted to start fresh pursuing our faith, togetherness and the great activities of the Springs to really create a life of our own. So far, it’s been a huge blessing to be back in the Springs. It hasn’t changed a lot since I left – but I hope to be an agent to fix that. The Springs has some really incredible assets and human capital. There are such amazing people here.

What opportunities or challenges do you see for young professionals in Colorado Springs?

Oh man, TONS of opportunities lie ahead for younger people here in the Springs. We’re the next generation. We have a lot of work to do and a ton of learning that we get to partake in to learn our city’s rich history in economics and politics to really craft a long-term place to grow. Colorado Springs has a lot going for it, from tourism to great people; the Springs is a really fun, yet easily connected place to get involved. I just want to encourage my generation to get out there, get involved and help craft this city into a really fun and thriving place to be. As Joe Raso from the Chamber says, I hope that Denver looks at us in five years and says “What the heck is going on down there?” It’s my hope to empower my generation to be a part of that change.

From a challenge perspective, we (my generation) need to get out there and be uncomfortable a bit. Get involved in nonprofit boards, Rotary, a bunch of places that you see the current leaders of the city hanging out. If we can meet them there and learn from them, we’re going to be a lot better off in the long run. The cool thing is that those city leaders want us there. So let’s go!

 

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