Local app Connacle is creating new connections

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]By Tomás Moya / NM News Port

Two UNM graduates who grew up together in the Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights have launched a new social media company called Connacle.

Austin Arnold and Thomas Stockton met in third grade. They lived three streets apart, in a tight-knit neighborhood, spending afternoons playing videos games, basketball and (their favorite) Monopoly.

“We played a lot of Monopoly. We were very competitive seven-year-olds,” Stockton said.“We still play games today, with a little wager here and there.”

Their wager now is on a new social media platform they’re developing. Connacle is designed to help individuals quickly locate other individuals who share a particular interest, whatever it may be.

The Backstory

“We are a great team because we are great friends… Austin and I think of each other as brothers,” Stockton said.

Although they were boyhood friends, their future partnership was not assured. They lost touch after fourth grade because Arnold’s family moved away.

But, after several years, “out of the blue,” Arnold appeared at the Stockton’s doorstep.

“One day he showed up at my house and I didn’t recognize him,” Stockton said. “He said, ‘Dude it’s me, it’s Austin!’ and I just thought ‘Wow!’ Ever since that day we were back on track and friends.”

The two kept in contact throughout high school and both enrolled at the University of New Mexico.

Arnold received his bachelor’s in political science.

“In college I knew that I liked politics and it was interesting to me,” Arnold said. “They always say in college to major in something that you like.”

Arnold considered attending law school after graduation, but found he wanted to own his own business.

“I wanted to do something on the entrepreneurship side growing up. I always wanted to own something and make it mine,” Arnold said. “I’ve always been someone that’s been able to think of different ideas and if I see something that I want to change, I will think of a way to change it.”

Stockton received his bachelor’s in accounting, with a minor in economics.

Like Arnold, he knew he wanted to own his own business. However, his first plan was to own his own Taekwondo studio.

From the age of six, Stockton had studied the Korean martial arts. At 17 he was on the U.S. Taekwondo team. He won a world championship in 2005.

A year later, a car accident would halt his career in Taekwondo.

Stockton says he recalls people telling him he should teach and run his own studio, an idea that stayed with him for a long time.

“It teaches you a lot of good character traits,”Stockton said. “Discipline, perseverance and motivation… , have helped me as a person in life.”

He says these traits have carried over into his business today.

“In business you need to be disciplined and you will run into failure, but you need to carry on.”

Stockton still hopes to practice Taekwondo though life is a little busy now — with four kids, and a day job as an inside sales representative for RS Hughes.

Arnold also has a day job — with Hewlitt-Packard. But their passion project now is Connacle.

Connacle

“One day I wanted to go play racquetball but I didn’t have anyone to go and play with,” Arnold recalls.“My friends were were not available, so I wondered who can I play with in this area?”

He said he looked online, but there were no websites that allowed him to connect with someone based on a common hobby or interest. That is what Connacle hopes to achieve.

“It’s going to be a great site where people that are new to the area are going to be able to join Connacle, and feel as if they can get involved in activities,” Arnold said.

The two are working with a local web designer and plan to launch the website for Connacle at the end of October. Soon after, they will work on an application for mobile devices.

Stockton thinks the company may start off a bit slowly, but is confident and hopeful that people are receptive to the idea because of how viral social media sites can be.

“In the social media realm, if people are receptive of an app or concept, everyone will start to download it,” Stockton said.

The idea is to start locally, in Albuquerque, then expand throughout New Mexico, and then the whole country.

Both share high hopes that the company can succeed.

“Ideally in five years we are a big name company, such as Facebook or Twitter, with a very large user base,” Arnold said. “Hopefully we are a company that can help influence and change the lives of other people.”

A big reason for their optimism, they say, is not only their friendship, but the fact that each brings a unique skill set.

“We have very different and complementary skills. I am the business and financial guy and he is more of the innovative thinker,” Stockton said. “We both have sales experience which will be much needed here soon when we start pitching to investors.”

IGNITE Program

The two acquired essential skills during their undergraduate studies at UNM but some of the most important business skills they learned came from the 12-week IGNITE Community Accelerator program.

The program is run by the STEMulus Center at Central New Mexico Community College, which helps equip local entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and promote their ideas.

Arnold said Stockton found the IGNITE program, applied with their idea, and were accepted. They say the benefits of this program have been instrumental.

“For us it was very helpful because we were given and assigned different tasks to do every week,” Arnold said. “It was a very good program to help keep you accountable and to meet other like-minded people that were entrepreneurs.”

“There are many times in college when you do not want to complete a project right away because you know you have a lot of time,” said Arnold. But the IGNITE program taught them to be disciplined by meeting deadlines

According to Arnold, the most helpful things were the contacts.

“The connections we made were vital for us to succeed,” said Arnold. “Making a 100-day plan was also something that really helped us out.”

A notable aspect of the program is that every small business or entrepreneur that has come out of the program has stayed in New Mexico. The two friends plan on doing the same.

“Thomas has been raised here and I have lived here most of my life,” Arnold said. “Ideally we would like to stay in New Mexico because we both have ties to the community and family here as well.”

“It would be nice to bring a startup tech company that could possibly help grow the Albuquerque economy.”

Follow Tomás on Twitter at @TomasMoya10.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”6601″][vc_column_text]

Name:

Thomas Stockton

Age:

27

Title:

Co-CEO Connacle

Background:

Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, minor in Economics

What do you think is the most interesting part of the innovation economy in ABQ?

“The NMID, STEMulus Center they are acknowledging that they need to stimulate the economy  in Albuquerque and New Mexico there are more programs being created for entrepreneurs to have an avenue to create their business. They have seen the need, and they are fulfilling that need with all of the accelerators.”

If you weren’t doing this job what would you be doing?

“If I weren’t working on Connacle I would be opening up my own taekwondo studio. I started when I was six, and I have always wanted to have my own school.”[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6498″][vc_column_text]

Name:

Austin Arnold

Age:

26

Title:

Co-CEO Connacle

Background:

Bachelor’s degree in political science completed at UNM. Currently works at HP.

What do you think is the most interesting part of the innovation economy in ABQ?

“CNM Ignite Program, FatPipe ABQ and the verge fun are some of many good job creator programs. Said there are many groups like these helping the creative economy in Albuquerque that are helping in a big way.”

If you weren’t doing this job what would you be doing?

“I’m currently working on a few other business ventures as well. I would definitely still try to be in the entrepreneurial side of business. I want to be able to own something and be my own boss.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]