Alumni Spotlight: John Volpe

Manfid Duran, Multimedia Editor

Name: John Volpe, Class of 2014

Major: Bachelor of Science, Physical Activity

John Volpe is a Marywood University alum and Chief Marketing Officer for Northeast Innovative Designs. Volpe is the co-founder of Chumm, a mobile app designed to make daily social planning simple and efficient with friends.

Q: What did you study during your time at Marywood?
A: I studied physical activity and physical education.

Q: What made you choose that major?
A: I lived my whole life growing up in this area playing sports, mostly basketball. I was always really interested in the training component of the off season, even during the season, and I was very competitive… I just naturally made that transition after I was done competing at the high school level into training full time, so I wanted to study that for my undergrad and make that my focus.

Q: Why did you choose to study at Marywood?
A: It was home. It was close to home. I wasn’t ready to move away yet. I liked the close-knit community that I saw here before I applied and was officially accepted. Then, when I got here that was instilled in me- the communication between the professors and their students, the close friendships that were made… that sense of community here.

Q: Did you ever see yourself creating an app while you were a student at Marywood?
A: I did not, honestly. I always had a knack for being the light of the party, I guess you can say. I was good at getting people together and I saw myself one day maybe being involved in event planning, but I never saw myself ever getting involved in mobile applications. So when the idea came to us, my brother and I- he’s the creator and CEO of the app- we just saw a problem [of not having streamlined communication] in front of us that we experienced at school. I went to Marywood and he went to the University of Scranton and so that was what led to the origin of the app.

Q: Could you explain how the name Chumm came to be?
A: When we were planning to go out or get together, we would send out a group text or individual text and when somebody was instigating to get the rest of us together to hang out, go see a movie, maybe go to somebody’s party or out to the bars, somebody else in that group would say, oh you’re “chumming” because it’s a common fishing term for throwing fish guts into the water to draw in more fish. It’s also a popular movie line in the famous movie “Jaws,” directed by Steven Spielberg. It was another one of those weird things between me and my close friends that we liked to use to communicate and that’s really how it got started.

Q: What kind of challenges did you face when creating Chumm and coming up with the idea?
A: Everything they taught me here at school. I wasn’t a business major or anything. You have multiple ups and downs when you’re doing something like this. You’re really never as prepared as you want to be but it’s a level of commitment and passion that goes into it. Obviously getting help and having a good support system helps as well. But starting from scratch and learning everything you need to about mobile development and mobile app technology, and I as a CMO about marketing, which I really did not have any prior experience in. As I said [it] takes a level of commitment and really hard work ethic.

Q: Where do you see the app going? Is there an expected release date for Android users?
A: We just recently had a development where we are working with a third party that is going to be developing all of the platforms. So for the past year, we have only had iOS and we have seen great success with that. But now with the new platforms projected, I would say in the next four to six months max it will be available for every platform. Our target demographic is college campuses mostly, but it can really apply to any demographic, especially people living in larger cities with a lot more going on. It relates more to its functionality, which is for everyday social planning, everyday activities, immediate objectives like yes, no, maybe, public and private invites.

Q: Are there any more apps in the works?
A: Our company is Northeast Innovative Designs. This is the first one and we are focused on this right now, but yes we definitely plan to implement more mobile technology in the future.

Q: Could you tell us about any upcoming updates for the app itself?
A: We just had a recent one in the past few months which implemented a gaming component to it which is… where you rack up a points system or scaling system. So for however many chumms you get, we’ll give you a different kind of scale of the kind of fish you are. You might start out as a guppy and then by the time you send so many chumms, you turn into a whale or a great white shark. A bunch of other updates we have implemented recently, like easier access to friends and all of that stuff, but the bigger updates will be coming in the next few months. We won’t be able to disclose that at this point but they should be very interesting and fun for our user base.

Q: Being a Marywood alum, what was your favorite memory of being a student here?
A: Wow, there’s so many. I would say my relationship with my professors and the work ethic… that they instilled in me and to want to pursue more and to think differently. A lot of people don’t really give enough credit to this university for thinking differently. How to pursue a career that’s steady and secure but also at the same time that’s unique to your personality. That could help you maybe create your own invention, your own future for yourself that hasn’t been done before. As I said, my relationship with my professors, with my friends on campus and the students gave me that feeling of creativity and an innovative way of thinking and thinking differently.

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to add about Chumm or Marywood in general?
A: I hope that for our user base this allows them to overcome the problems that we faced during my undergrad and now being a graduate student as well with basically getting your friends together. We want to simplify people’s social life and create a fully integrated campus life that’s more accessible and also more private and safe at the same time which is what the app does.

Editor’s Note: Community Editor Amanda Duncklee held an event to promote Chumm. She had no involvement in the editing or influence in the article and video.

Contact the writer: [email protected]