Chief Technology Officer @ Ciocca Apps
- Current Employer(s): Intern @ CSI globalVCard
- Bio: Originally from New Jersey, John Ciocca embraced the move to Southwest Florida as an opportunity to explore his future and tech it up a notch!John is currently a Senior at Estero High School in Estero, Florida. He is a member of the National Honor Society as well as Key Club. Active in the Engineering academy at Estero, John is working with his peers on various projects. Some projects include: ‘FarmBot- a CNC Gardening Machine’ and an Autonomous Solar Go Cart.
At the age of 12, John taught himself how to code during his Summer vacation. This self motivation opened up a whole new avenue of interests. Through focus and a lot of research, John expanded his mind by reading about Steve Jobs, Apple and mobile app development. He released his first app at the age of 14, a dating app for people with special needs. John’s older brother Christian, who has Down Syndrome, has been the inspiration for helping people with special needs.
Today at the age of 17, John has developed over 35 apps with more than 20 currently on the App Store. What started as a hobby has grown into an app development company known as Ciocca Apps.
In an effort to assist his brother Christian in making new friends, John founded a chapter of the national organization Fantastic Friends here in Southwest Florida. Fantastic Friends provides opportunities for people with special needs to gather with neurotypical peers at monthly events and share experiences together.
John has used his knowledge of app development to connect people with special needs beyond Fantastic Friends. John created the first social network exclusively for people with special needs and their families. youBelong is the Facebook for exceptional people to chat, post, comment and share their own events. Neapolitan Family Magazine said, “John J. Ciocca could be the next Mark Zuckerberg.” The youBelong community continues to grow and is actively used by members throughout the world.
Before youBelong, John developed an app to help people who are non-verbal or have trouble communicating. MyVoice is an app based on PECs (the Picture Exchange System). John took the idea of the physical PECs book and made an app that utilizes icons as words in a simple and intuitive manner. MyVoice has been recognized by Apple and is featured in their Special Education section of the App Store.
When not developing apps, John is raising a service dog for a veteran. He is teaching the dog specific commands and essential skills. After a year of training, the service dog will be given to a veteran that suffers from PTSD. Always thinking of ways to help and connect others, John took his passion for developing apps and launched Battle Buddies. Battle Buddies is a social network for veterans and military personnel to chat and share with others who have gone through the same experiences.
John plans on studying Computer Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Community Involvement: – Key Club International (2015 – Present)
– Founder of Fantastic Friends of SWFL (November 2016 – Present)
– Raising a service dog for a veteran with PTSD (July 2017 – July 2018)
- Favorite things to do outside of work: – Walking my dog – Late night swims – Flying my drone
- Favorite quote: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney
- What does SWFL mean to you: Palm trees everywhere you look and sunshine, lots of sunshine.
- Best advice you’ve received: Do what you love while working for yourself. Why work for an executive when you can be the executive?
- What drives you: Wanting to change the world while helping others.
- Biggest influences: – Steve Jobs – Elon Musk – Walt Disney – My Brother
- Last book read: ‘Zero to One’ by Peter Thiel