In four short years, senior Kofi Asante has launched a branch of a startup in Boston, organized the recent Voices of the Hill event and even started his own company out of his first-year dorm room.
The company came out of Asante and his friends’ desires to know about social events happening on campus and in the surrounding area.
“When I was a freshman, a group of students and I were trying to solve a problem,” Asante said. “We were trying to figure out what’s happening tonight, trying to figure out where the parties, shows, concerts were.”
To remedy this, they created an app, Evoqe, that allowed students to both find local events and get exclusive deals from local businesses on one platform. However, creating a successful app proved to be quite a time commitment.
“That experience changed me a lot,” Asante said. “We just weren’t sleeping. We were missing classes and meeting with different business partners and building this thing out of our dorm in Bush Hall.”
While Asante said he loved the work he put into Evoqe, he noted that it wasn’t easy balancing the life of a college student with the full-time job of running a business.
“It’s hard, it’s very hard,” he said. “If it doesn’t keep you up at night, I don’t think that you can do it.”
After moving on from Evoqe, Asante began work with a company called Tabbed Out, which runs a mobile app that allows users to pay their restaurant or bar checks from their phone.
“I worked with the CEO [of Tabbed Out] over the summer and they asked me to launch a branch in Boston, so I spent part of my sophomore and junior year launching it here,” Asante said.
Asante also spent time working with JP Morgan Chase and will move to San Francisco to work with Uber after he graduates.
However, he stressed that his successes were not without their own share of failures along the road.
“I’ve been rejected from 30 different companies, I’ve been rejected by over 100 different businesses when I was trying to pitch our startup,” Asante said. “It looks good on the surface, these names or when you go to these companies or do these things, but there’s so much failure in between.”
This spring, Asante organized Voices of the Hill, an event that showcased personal student monologues. He explained that the political polarization on campus following the presidential election inspired him to create this type of event.
“I was talking with my good friends Cyrus [Mahini] and Khuyen [Bui] around the time of the election, and we were frustrated with how polarizing a lot of things have become,” Asante said.
The event was meant to foster listening across the Tufts community, with its theme of “The Gap” reflecting Asante’s desire to help students better understand each other.
“Really, the goal was not to have this just be two hours for people to talk about different perspectives and validate each other but for that to spark and be a catalyst for dialogue in the future,” he said.
Citing the success of Voices of the Hill, Asante expressed optimism for the future of Tufts as a place that will continue to support diverse opinions, beliefs and experiences.
“I believe that this campus is positioned to where we can be a model for a lot of other communities for how we take care of each other and validate each other,” he said.
Looking back on his college career, Asante stressed that the people he met at Tufts greatly shaped the experience.
“I’m going to miss being in an environment that just takes care of you,” he said. “I’ve felt so loved here.”