Colin was born in Cape Town, South Africa to a Minnesotan mother and South African father. He grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota and graduated high school from Saint Thomas Academy. His mother was a librarian and nurse and his father was a network engineer. Colin was given an excellent education, learning to read children's novels at age 4, programming BASIC on his father's TRS-80 Model I computer at age 6, and earning the Headmaster's Scholarship, Eagle Award, and National Merit Scholarship during high school. He attended the University of Florida on a "full ride" academic scholarship, earning a B.A. in English. After graduating, he worked for one year as an advanced placement high school teacher at Saint Thomas Academy. During this time, he found work as a software engineer at his current employer, Cray.
Colin has been involved in politics ever since high school, when he visited Washington, D.C. to study civics with the Close Up Foundation and he took advanced placement U.S. Government class. Upon reaching college, he became an active member in Florida Defenders of the Environment and Florida PIRG, volunteering as a unpaid citizen to lobby members of the Florida legislature. Since then, he has been a tireless advocate of election, lobbyist, energy, and healthcare reform at the Minnesota legislature. He has been active as a Toastmaster and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.