Cosmunity brings the geek convention experience online

Cosmunity is a new social network for people who want to keep the experience of Comic Con (or another geek event of your choosing) going all year long.

Co-founder and CEO Cole Egger recalled attending a Dallas Comic Con (now known as Fan Expo Dallas) and being “blown away by the size.” However, he found fans who were “frustrated” by the difficulty of staying connected after the event. And similarly, vendors were looking for a way to “sell products directly to their target audience.”

So commerce is a big piece of Cosmunity. It’s also the main way the company plans to make money, although it’s waiving transaction fees for the rest of the year. Retailers can create profiles on the service and sell props, costumes, comic books, artwork and more. Sure, you might be able to buy many of these products elsewhere on the Internet, but Egger said the difference is that Cosmunity will be “exclusively geek.”

While Egger emphasized that Cosmunity is a peer-to-peer marketplace — which means the company isn’t vetting all the retailers — he said the team will do its best to verify retailers who are selling licensed products and to remove fraudulent accounts.

Co-founder and COO Zac Cooner said one of the other big goals is to make people comfortable with “expressing their true selves” — maybe by sharing that costume photo you’re too embarrassed to post on Facebook. So there’s a newsfeed combining social updates, product listings, event info and other geek content.

Of course, “geek” is a pretty broad term — different geeks have different interests. Some of us, for example, really want to see the latest Star Trek news but couldn’t care less about new toys. Egger said users can already control what they see by deciding which other users to follow, but there are more features planned that will “really help customize that experience.”

I also wondered how Cosmunity would handle issues like trolling, particularly with the way some geek subcultures have gotten caught up in conservative controversies like Gamergate. Cooner noted that each user can block other users, delete any comment on their own posts and report malicious activity.

“At this moment, we don’t necessarily have a stance about guiding the political tone of users on our platform,” Cooner said. “We do take a strong stance [on tone] — we believe that this is a positivity-driven community.”

The startup has raised $300,000 in seed funding and also recruited Ming Chen, one of the stars of AMC’s Comic Book Men, as an advisor.

“Cosmunity is unlike any other app on the market for the geek community,” Chen said in the launch release. “I can go to Cosmunity and find everything I need; friends, event info, discover new content and find my favorite convention retailers all in one place.”