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TIA student making waves in the music industry

By Keshav Garg '15 on August 29, 2017

Keshav Garg '15

When I flashback seven years ago to the day I joined TIA, I remember a know-it-all freshman, showing up to every meeting late and showing up to the TIA demo day during eWeekend with a cardboard slab and some pictures sloppily glued on. Joining TIA in freshman year to support my band (Shav & Mentos), I naively thought TIA could be a shot at connecting with someone who could help us quickly “blow up” in the music industry.

Fast forward four years, and that same weekend I was facing Jessica Alba and MC Hammer on stage in front of the entire school pitching a prepared presentation on indify, a startup that helps music professionals discover the top up and coming artists using a proprietary algorithm. That eWeekend, indify received $25,000 in grant money from TIA and a workspace for the summer.

After the TIA-style shark tank, I learned that we had not even crossed the starting line on our journey.

Our team started work on indify full-time and spent over a year in my basement simply building the indify product. Matt Pavia, our CTO, was our only software engineer and the person building the product day in and day out. Over the course of the two years, Matt spearheaded massive moments for indify such as our first artist addition (45,000 artists), iteration of our proprietary algorithm, and a redesign of the entire indify product. He singlehandedly coded the platform.

Meanwhile, our Chief Content Officer, Connor Lawrence built an editorial campaign around the artists doing well on our platform that slowly became the backbone for music discovery in the music industry. The slow grind of adding valued music professionals to the editorial list over two years and proving that indify’s predictions are accurate via the content we sent to them (Khalid, DRAM, Post Malone, Maggie Rogers, Desiigner, Amine) led us to moments like our Pigeons & Planes collaboration, our NME collaboration, our Cycle Collaboration, and most importantly our building trust with the top companies in the music industry.

During this time, I learned to pitch to investors/raise funds, sell/excite music professionals about our product, and direct and manage our team towards a set vision. A major moment on the business front was raising funding from Ash Pournouri, Avicii’s former manager and Symposium co-creator who believed in the indify vision and invested pre-seed funding at a crucial time. Now, more than two years after working on indify full-time, we’ve closed our first two deals with major record labels.

What I’ve learned since being a TIA freshman is that there is no such thing as a quick “blow up”. It has been two years since starting work on indify full-time, and I feel like we are now just crossing the starting line. While the TIA shark tank was a key spark for indify, it was the lessons I learned over the course of my time at TIA that I’ve carried with me and will continue to carry with me on the journey of building indify.

Conviction in vision, personal brand, product testing, smart pivots/adjustments, unwavering resilience, and relentless execution are a few of the many values that TIA taught me. TIA gives us founders the blueprint needed to build the foundation of a disruptive startup. Wills [Hapworth], Andy [Greenfield], Mary [Galvez], and the rest of the TIA mentors & staff, I cannot thank you enough for your continued support and coaching. We could not have done it without you.

As indify continues to grow, we ask for your help in connecting us with anyone you feel may add value to our business (shav@indify.io). For continued updates on indify and the artists we love, feel free to sign up for our newsletter here.

 

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Entrepreneurs Fund in Action

By Wills Hapworth on July 31, 2017

eFund 2017 (l-r) Rob Carroll ’15, Pat Crowe ’18, Grace O’Shea ’11, Matthew Glick ’19, Jack Zamore ’20, Cody Semrau ’14, Nick Freud ’15, Mary Galvez & Wills Hapworth

Hello Colgate Entrepreneurship Community!

We are excited to share that we just wrapped up another high-energy summer of the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund (eFund); we are also sad to see the teams go! Here are the ventures that made up the 5th eFund cohort and with whom we had the fortune of working over the last six weeks.

The teams worked 24/7 on their ventures at the TIA Incubator in Hamilton and during that time we witnessed numerous accomplishments, including: celebrating their first sales; making hard and critical decisions about their product based on customer feedback; aggressively hunting down leads from the Colgate/TIA network; making their first hires; learning the do’s and don’ts of effective selling; sharing best practices on business operations with one and other; and more. Here is a bit more on what transpired while the teams were in Hamilton:


5th Year of the Entrepreneurs Fund by the Numbers

  • 5 new teams participated this summer from June 5th – July 14th
  • $65K in grants awarded to the ventures, many putting these funds to work on digital marketing, product development, hiring, legal and more
  • 40+ mentors engaged more than 100 times
  • Mentors (alums, parents, faculty, staff and community members) collectively gave over 450 hours of their time mentoring both in person and remotely

We heard first-hand how much the teams benefitted from the Colgate community and the hours of mentoring they received, and how immensely grateful they are for the experience. The teams now continue on in their journeys to build profitable and high growth businesses, buoyed by TIA and the larger Colgate entrepreneurship community, which we repeatedly say is a membership for life. We are extremely proud of all that they accomplished this summer, and thrilled to see them join the eFund legacy, which has had an impressive impact since its inception. Here is a little more on what the eFund has accomplished over the past 5 years:


Entrepreneurs Fund Inception to Date

  • 27 teams awarded a seed grant to date
  • ~7 highly qualified Colgate alumni/parent entrepreneurs have screened the applications every year
  • $375K of seed capital deployed through generous gifts from alums and parents, with funds supporting product development, digital marketing, key hires, legal, and other growth functions
  • $11.9MM+ of investment capital subsequently raised by eFund teams
  • 17 ventures still currently operating; batting well over .500 which is great for startup odds
  • ~100 full-time jobs created and still filled by eFund ventures, and many more part-time positions created
  • 2,200+ hours of time donated by mentors, on average about 40+ mentors engaging more than 100 times every summer

Thank you to all the mentors that accelerated these ventures, to Colgate for fostering such a collaborative environment, to the entrepreneurs for their tireless work and making us all look good, and to the TIA team that keeps things running smoothly. Let’s keep the energy high and continue turning thoughts into action!

 

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Taking the leap to full-time entrepreneur by Cody Semrau

By Contributing Writer on July 27, 2017

Cody Semrau ’14

When I graduated from Colgate back in 2014, I thought that I was leaving the hills of Hamilton far behind me. But after spending a few years working a corporate job in D.C., I found myself feeling unfulfilled. I wanted to do something – to create something – that I was really passionate about. What started as a part time hobby has now become the center of my world, and led me back to a familiar place.

Thanks to Colgate’s TIA Entrepreneurs Fund, I was able to make the jump into entrepreneurship full-time. After quitting my day job in May, I moved to Hamilton and have spent the summer working on my venture, BetterMynd, alongside four other teams of energetic and determined Colgate entrepreneurs.

BetterMynd is an online mental health and teletherapy platform designed exclusively for college and university campuses. We bring together a wide network of licensed mental health therapists and counselors and allow students to search from and have teletherapy sessions with their counselor of choice—all from the comfort and privacy of their laptops or smartphones.

When I was a senior at Colgate, I began experiencing my own mental health issues, and I was fortunate enough to get help from Colgate’s on-campus resources. However, the experience was an uncomfortable one. I had to carefully sneak into that building everyone knew as the Counseling Center. Then I had to sit in the lobby across from other classmates that were experiencing their own mental health issues. It was an awkward experience, but one I was willing to go through in order to get the help I needed. But many college students are not, and it is the reason why over half of students with mental health issues don’t get any help at all.

At the same time, colleges across the country are experiencing a significant spike in the number of students seeking mental health counseling, with the latest studies showing a 50% year-over-year increase in demand. Although this is a great sign that more students are seeking help, it’s not so great if colleges don’t have the resources to keep pace. One out of three colleges has a waiting list for students seeking counseling and most schools cap the number of sessions a student can have at six. Still, it often takes up to two weeks for a student to get an appointment.

By bringing more counseling resources to college students, and making these resources more accessible through our online platform, BetterMynd is empowering struggling college students to get the help that they need.

As part of the Entrepreneurs Fund, BetterMynd has had the added benefit of working closely with Colgate’s Counseling Center staff and other administrators. We will launch our first pilot program with Colgate this fall semester, with the hopes of expanding to other campuses later this year.

The Entrepreneurs Fund has allowed me to take BetterMynd to the next level. The program has not only allowed me to dive into entrepreneurship full time, but it has also given me the opportunity to tap into the expertise of dozens of Colgate alums on everything from marketing and branding to finance and law. As a young entrepreneur navigating the complex and challenging startup world, this mentorship has been invaluable. Although there are too many mentors to list here, I am sincerely grateful for all of your time and advice.

Lastly, I would like to give a special thanks to Wills Hapworth and Mary Galvez for all of your hard work and support in making this summer and The Entrepreneurs Fund such an incredible experience.

Cody Semrau
Founder & CEO, BetterMynd

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2017 Entrepreneurs Fund winners at work in TIA Incubator

By Erin Burnett '19 on July 18, 2017

Founder Grace O’Shea ’11 (second from right) and her colleagues from room2learn, a company that provides custom-design solutions for school communities. She developed the idea for the company when she was working as an 8th grade science teacher and realized the need for more flexible classroom space.

 

If Grace O’Shea ’11 could describe her perfect work environment, there’s a good chance it would look something like Colgate’s Thought Into Action Incubator located in the heart of downtown Hamilton. After all, its spacious layout, flexible seating options, and co-working environment are exactly what her spatial design company, room2learn, creates for its clients.

Luckily enough, O’Shea spent the beginning of her summer in the incubator working to grow her company as one of the 2017 Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund winners. She belongs to one of five teams that each received a $12,000 grant, mentoring, and use of the incubator space for the summer.

The other winners included Patrick Crowe ’18, founder of Loophole; Rob Carroll ’15 and Nick Freud ’15, co-founders of CampusReel; Matthew Glick ’19 and Jack Zamore ’20, co-founders of Gipper; and Cody Semrau ’14, founder of BetterMynd. The fund was established in 2013 with a lead gift from Dan and Linda Rosensweig P’15, ’17 to support the business ventures of action-oriented start-ups that have at least one Colgate member on their founding team.

Although O’Shea and her team are still determining how they will allocate their funding, she says that the intellectual guidance they’ve received is priceless.

“Colgate has an alumni network like no other,” O’Shea said. “All the human capital that Colgate has to offer and the way that people lend their ears and advice to the TIA community — I think that’s pretty amazing.”

Successful entrepreneurism draws heavily on ways of thinking that are integral to a liberal arts education, explained Meg Blume-Kohout, visiting assistant professor of economics and TIA faculty mentor. “The TIA student-entrepreneurs throw their hearts, time, and effort into creating something new, and for many of them, their venture is an expression of their own identity and social consciousness.”

As for O’Shea’s secret to success? “Figure out if you have something valuable to offer,” she advised hopeful entrepreneurs. “Talk to people about it. Put a prototype in the hands of someone else. Don’t be afraid to take the first steps toward putting your thought into action.”

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Our experience in the Entrepreneurs Fund

By Mary Galvez on July 13, 2017

Rob Carroll ’15 & Nick Freud ’15, co-founders of CampusReel

The Entrepreneurs Fund was created in 2013 in recognition of the large number of student and alumni entrepreneurs throughout the Colgate community who are solving problems and demonstrating an ability to execute. Open to for-profit and non-profit ventures with at least one Colgate member on the founding team, the fund offers prizewinners the opportunity to grow their ventures with seed capital; incubator space for the summer in Hamilton; and intellectual resources from within the Colgate community. The Efund was created in 2013 with a lead gift from Dan and Linda Rosensweig P’15, ’17. Five teams were chosen to participate in this years fund that began May 30 and runs through July 14. Rob Carroll ’15 and Nick Freud ’15 of CampusReel, wrote the following article detailing their experience in the program.

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The atmosphere in the incubator is one of energy, optimism, and a friendly dose of competition. Each team wants to be the first one in the office, and the last one to leave; and with this particular group, it means that none of us sleeps much. We have weekly ‘scrums’ where we all sit together for an hour in the morning and discuss the current state of each company, milestones we want to achieve for the week, and problems in the business that we are working through. Addressing these issues as a team fosters a strong sense of community in the incubator, and results in all of us taking a vested interest our peer’s businesses. More than anything, however, the team building in the incubator is a very powerful way for us to gain a unique perspective from a group of likeminded entrepreneurs making their way through an exciting and unpredictable process.

The network that TIA has allowed us to tap into has been truly invaluable for us at this stage in the process. Over the past three weeks in the incubator, we’ve conducted upwards of thirty meetings with serial entrepreneurs, brand strategists, psychologists, lawyers, and other professionals who have helped hone our company vision, product development, and execution strategy. In a process defined by uncertainty, we feel so fortunate to be able to consult this prolific network of mentors as we navigate through this process. Building a company in the early stages is an exercise in efficient problem solving, with no real framework or precedent to inform each decision. It can be overwhelming at times, but we cannot overstate how motivating it has been for us to be able to speak with experienced professionals who were once in our shoes, and have now found high levels of success in their respective industries. Each mentor we have spoken to has been unbelievably warm and accommodating, and has provided us with the tools and information necessary to effectively build our companies.

Finally, we’ve very much appreciated the way that TIA allows us to be entirely autonomous as we build our companies from the ground up. On the first day of the program Wills Hapworth ’07 [Alumni Executive Director of TIA] met with all of us and explained that, as entrepreneurs, it is paramount that we all understand how to be disciplined and self-directed on a daily basis. The incubator provides us with all the necessary structures and recourses to excel, but it puts the impetus on the entrepreneurs to capitalize on the opportunity. At the end of the day, if we fail there is no one to blame but ourselves, and the same can be said for if (and when) we succeed!

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TIA / Entrepreneurs Fund featured on Syracuse WSYR-TV

By Mary Galvez on June 27, 2017

 

(Reprinted from Syr.com, June 19, 2017)

HAMILTON (WSYR-TV) – On a rainy Monday morning, several Colgate University students are inside a Hamilton incubator space thinking up their next big idea.

They’re part of Colgate’s Thought Into Action program, which awards grants to current students and alumni looking to solve problems.

“They’re accessing and resourcing the skills they’ve learned in the classroom to solve those problems,” Wills Hapworth, the Alumni Executive Director of the program said.

Ventures [that are] part of the project include a product that makes it more difficult to drop a cell phone, a sports highlight app, and several businesses around the Hamilton business district.

One of those businesses, Good Nature Brewing, received a $12,000 grant from the program several years ago. What started as a small tap room in Hamilton has expanded into a brewing facility and restaurant in the village.

“This solves a big problem,” Carrie Blackmore, Good Nature’s owner, said. “There were no breweries in Madison County and it was very difficult to find local beer at all.”

As an alumna, Blackmore was eligible for funding through one of Thought Into Action’s funds. She turned her grant into a successful company that now employs more than 35 people.

In total, about 165 full and part-time jobs have been created through Thought Into Action.

More than half of those ventures remain in operation.


TIA Mentor named Entrepreneur of the Year

By Mary Galvez on June 5, 2017

Melissa Coley ’79, President-elect of the Alumni Council awards Oak Atkinson ’87 the Entrepreneur of the Year award

TIA mentor extraordinaire, Oak Atkinson ’87, was selected as the Colgate alumni council’s 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year during this years eWeekend in New York City. Oak is the founder of tumbalina, the artisanal and digital card company that measures its success in smiles by “touching hearts one by one.” In 2003, the first year in business, tumbalina won several industry awards, including a “Louie”, (the Oscars of the stationery industry), and the American Package Design Award. In 2015, tumbalina sold over 17 million cards with clients like Snapfish, Walgreens and CVS .

 

While Oak is super busy running her multi-million dollar business, she is also a wife, mother and artist. Yet, she still makes time in her busy schedule to come to campus once a month to mentor TIA Incubator students. Why? To give back to Colgate and to “pay it forward,” as the saying goes. And . . . “it’s also fun.”

In addition to mentoring, Oak has taken it upon herself to hand-stencil a number of walls in the TIA incubator with inspirational and relevant quotes. This has been a laborious and time-consuming project that has added so much visually and inspirationally to our space. Oak has volunteered her time to this project, as do all of our mentors. TIA absolutely could not survive without our incredible group of alumni, parent and community mentors.

 

 

 

 

 

THANK YOU Oak and congratulations on this well deserved award.

 

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Congratulations to Our 2017 TIA Graduates!

By Mary Galvez on May 23, 2017

Thirteen Thought Into Action students graduated in Colgate’s 196th commencement ceremonies May 21st. We couldn’t be prouder of each one of them and wish them the best of luck as they enter the next phase of their lives.

Adam Buys

Adam Buys
Sapling / WeRun App

Abeneazer Chafamo
Hyve

Blaise Desnoes
Earthprint Organics

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trippie

Ryan Diew
Trippie

Raffi Khatchadourian
Indify/Waffle Cookie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jazmyn McKoy
Heart of Tabitha

Daniel Mosko
PetFed / Seela

Caroline Nichols
D’Eat It

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hannah S. O’Malley
UNRAVEL

Keane Sanders
Seela

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orion Schelz
Colgate Dining Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good luck to our graduating seniors! We’ll miss you and hope you’ll pay it forward by mentoring future classes of the TIA Student Incubator!

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Colgate hosts sixth annual Entrepreneur Weekend

By mhames on May 17, 2017

Colgate University, Thought Into Action (TIA), and the Entrepreneur Professional Network hosted the sixth annual Entrepreneur Weekend on April 29, bringing alumni, parents, students, and friends together for the first time in New York City.

The festivities included a panel conversation moderated by Forbes magazine tech editor Steven Bertoni ’02. The panel included: Samantha Radocchia ’11, co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Chronicled; Cliff Sirlin ’89, co-founder of the Domino Media Group and now managing director at LaunchCapital LLC; and Ram Parimi ’05, co-founder and vice president of sales, Social Tables. (Read more . . . )


2017 Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund Winners

By Mary Galvez on May 17, 2017

The Entrepreneurs Fund was created in 2013 in recognition of the large number of student and alumni entrepreneurs throughout the Colgate community who are solving problems and demonstrating an ability to execute. Open to for-profit and non-profit ventures with at least one Colgate member on the founding team, the fund offers prizewinners the opportunity to grow their ventures with seed capital; incubator space for the summer in Hamilton; and intellectual resources from within the Colgate community. The Efund was created in 2013 and initially funded by Dan and Linda Rosensweig  P’15, ’17.

Congratulations to the five teams chosen as this years winners of the fund:

 

BetterMynd is improving the mental health of America’s 21 million college students. BetterMynd gives students access to a network of certified mental health counselors and allows them to engage in teletherapy sessions. Cody Semrau ’14

 

CampusReel democratizes the college campus visit. We mitigate financial, temporal and logistical restraints that prevent prospective students from visiting campuses through a platform rich with video content from colleges across the country. Rob Carroll ’15 and Nick Freud ’15.

 

Gipper is a sports highlight app and service that harnesses a love for athletics to improve engagement and further advancement at high schools and colleges. Matthew Glick ’19 and Jack Zamore ’20

 

Loophole makes a rubber ring phone accessory that prevents you from dropping your phone while also improving how you use your phone. Patrick Crowe ’18 and Steven Stillwell (Towson University)

 

room2learn is a social platform and design consultancy that provides custom and affordable design solutions for K-12 schools shifting towards 21st century learning. Grace O’Shea ’11, Fernando Trujano, and Jane Zhang.

 

 

PAST eFUND WINNERS

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