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“From TIA to Acquisition by a Public Company” by Ryan Smith ’13

By Contributing Writer on August 26, 2014
Ryan Smith '13

Ryan Smith ’13

Entering senior year, I thought I had a big decision to make: work for a firm or start my own. Looking back on the time I spent mulling over which way to go, in the back of my mind I knew there really wasn’t a choice. Of the conversations I had, I remember two: Andy [Greenfield ‘74, founder of TIA] telling me not to overthink a simple question, and my parents who were surprised I even asked, “We thought you were going to do it anyway.” With that, we turned EcoCampus, the company I started my first year of Thought Into Action, into a legacy company and sold the firm to a group of Colgate students. Second semester I started Trupoly.

Those last few months of school felt brutally long. I could not escape the feeling that I was wasting time. Between classes, I began deeply researching real estate investing, structuring private equity investments and crowdfunding. I reached out to industry professionals, journalists, lawyers, alumni, and founders of companies in those spaces. In March I incorporated Trupoly, lined up office space and hired a developer; we were going to build a crowdfunding platform. When I say “we” – Trupoly was still a one-man outfit.Trupoly

That summer I met with 57 real estate sponsors, developers and investment firms. Anyone that would take a meeting, I was there. We were still developing the MVP (minimally viable product) but I had to begin pitching the idea of crowdfunding to these firms. With only a handful of exceptions, the meetings usually ended with either a “Not interested” or worse, “Let’s keep in touch” which really means they aren’t comfortable saying the “No” they’re thinking. Regardless, I pushed on and financed the acquisition of a rental apartment in Manhattan with investors we managed on Trupoly’s platform. Although I was still a one-man team, every meeting was worthwhile; it was my opportunity to hear the industry’s pain points. Based on those meetings, we decided to build an accompanying Investor Relationship Management (IRM) software product alongside our crowdfunding platform. We began gaining traction immediately with our IRM product and given the value of the subscription agreements we were signing, Trupoly was able to secure a large angel round quickly. With that capital I was able to hire Trupoly’s full-time team, ramp up our development sprints, and begin churning out additional sales.

Of those seven investors, five were Colgate alumni. Here, the Thought Into Action connection cannot be sufficiently stressed. Five years ago I was a freshman in Thought Into Action and there were five students with Andy. Then a few months in, Bob [Gold '80] and Wills [Hapworth '07] came on board and through the three of them, TIA became an institution. Within TIA, I started and sold my first firm all while part of the program. After school, I tapped into the same mentoring network that supported me from launching a small project such as EcoCampus through to Trupoly’s recent acquisition by a large, publicly-traded company.

There is something remarkable happening in Hamilton called Thought Into Action and I’d like to congratulate all the new teams in this year’s class. If you do this right, if you attack every challenge with the same force you would use if someone was trying to drown you, then you’ll create something.

Good things don’t just come, especially if you wait.

Three things I’ve learned and confirmed this year:

  • There is always money in doing things people don’t want to do. If you aren’t sure what they don’t want to do, ask them. Then charge them for your solution.
  • Don’t fall in love with an idea. If you aren’t willing to change, you will fail.
  • Business ideas are worthless; execution is everything.

Ryan Smith graduated in 2013 with a major in International Relations. He launched Trupoly in the TIA Student Incubator his senior year and, in the course of one year, went from student business owner to having that business acquired by a large, publicly-traded firm. He is a passionate entrepreneur who has a very promising future ahead of him. Ryan may be contacted at ryansmith@trupoly.com.


Changing Lives in Nepal by Amanda Brown ’15

By Contributing Writer on August 12, 2014

I’m Amanda Brown ‘15 and I’m a Peace and Conflict Studies major with a minor in Religion. Last semester I studied human rights in Nepal, Jordan, and Chile and conducted a comparative fieldwork study on girls’ access to education. Since returning, I’ve been in New York City starting up Children and Youth First USA (CYFUSA), a registered 501(c)(3) working alongside our parent organization CYF in Nepal. Together we fund the Life Vision Academy for underprivileged children, which currently provides a safe home and progressive education to 37 students from across Nepal. With Theresa Solinger ’15 and Samantha Berlin ’15 on the team, the three of us at CYFUSA are working to improve and expand Life Vision Academy.

We passionately share the belief that a person’s income, family history, and environment should not be a barrier to his or her education. All of our students come from challenging family backgrounds, and all of our girls are the first of their families to receive a full education. When I visited Life Vision for the first time, the energy and potential of the students instantly captivated me. These kids are the future of Nepal, and they are building the confidence and life skills to transform their post-conflict society into a safe, just, and prosperous new Nepal.

Our organization also involves a women’s empowerment cooperative, which helps disadvantaged women in the Kathmandu Valley build economic independence and social strength through knitting together. It is called Haushala, which means “encouragement” in Nepali. Their handcrafted merchandise has already been worn across four continents, and many of the women maintain that the social empowerment they’ve gained is even more rewarding than the financial security. Between Life Vision Academy and the Haushala cooperative, CYF provides infinite possibilities for changing lives in Nepal.

Our outreach so far has included small-scale fundraisers, community presentations, and various social media platforms. We will also be entering the Thought Into Action Student Incubator in September. Over the next year, we want to increase our influence and expand our reach as much as possible, creating a network of supporters who can help us spread word of our mission and projects. We also want to plan and execute diverse fundraising events and increase the amount of retail partners selling Haushala merchandise. It would be extremely helpful to connect with any Colgate alumni with expertise in related areas, such as but not limited to: international education, global development projects, NGO administration and fundraising, children’s and women’s rights, or free trade business administration. If interested in contributing financially to our mission, any gift to our registered 501(c)(3) is tax-deductible and will directly benefit our school expansion project, listed at www.gofundme.com/cyfusa. We would also greatly appreciate publicity or press through any alum’s social or professional networks.

Thank you so much for your time, and we look forward to your support!


Entrepreneur Professional Network

By Mary Galvez on July 16, 2014

eWeekend pictures 2014 054Colgate’s Professional Networks began in the summer of 2013 as a means to cultivate new professional opportunities for members of the Colgate community, promote alumni engagement, and support undergraduate professional development. Developed by the Office of Alumni Relations and the Center for Career Services, the first network — created by and for alumni in the finance community — held its launch in New York City on September 19. This was quickly followed by the launch of networks in the non-profit sector, entertainment, real estate, health and wellness, and digital media and technology. The Entrepreneur Professional Network launched on April 11 after Thought Into Action’s Entrepreneur Weekend all-star panel, where hundreds of alumni and guests were in attendance. The network is led by Katie Finnegan ’05, co-founder of hukkster, a disruptive online shopping venture that now boasts 250,000 users.

On June 13 – Colgate Day! – over 150 Colgate alumni gathered at Google NYC for the first of what will be a regular series of meetups and networking events geared toward those alumni with an interest in entrepreneurship. Many came just to see who else from the alma mater they love would turn up; others came seeking tangible advice and guidance on startup ideas they’re pursuing; and still others came interested to hear the life experiences of successful entrepreneurs as they consider taking the plunge. The event opened with remarks from President Jeff Herbst about the “state of entrepreneurship” at Colgate, and the momentum that continues to fuel the schools’ burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem. Afterwards Katie Finnegan led a revealing interview with Bill Kindler ‘08, painting a “behind the scenes” picture of starting a new business. Bill is the co-founder of Schoology, a highly successful learning management software with over $20M in venture capital backing. The evening culminated in a number of workshops discussing specific topics related to entrepreneurship such as technology and legal considerations.

According to Tim Mansfield, Associate VP for Alumni Relations, “Colgate alumni continue to show a passion for each other, students, and the university. The event at Google was a great exchange of ideas with alumni entrepreneurs while also celebrating Colgate Day. We are very grateful to Debra Locastro for providing the unique access to Google.”

Going forward, we will be treating the Entrepreneur Network just like a startup, as we endeavor to create a product that truly fulfills the desires and needs of our customers …YOU! So we need to hear more about what you’d like to get out of it. Please click HERE to complete a survey that will help us plan future events that will be relevant and useful to everyone in our Eship community. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at our next event.




TIA blog series: Sapling’s whirlwind ride after Eweekend by Josh Lasker ’14

By Contributing Writer on July 7, 2014
Daniel Swiecki '14 (right) and Josh Lasker '14 (left) pitch their venture to the panel during Entrepreneur Weekend.

Daniel Swiecki ’14 (left) and Josh Lasker ’14 pitch Sapling Advisory to the panel, including Tony Bates and Ashton Kutcher, during Entrepreneur Weekend.

I glanced across the stage and then down at my watch. I nodded to Daniel – we were finally up.

We made our way behind the black curtains to the back of the stage and took a few long paces in the dark to do a speed run-through of our pitch one final time. Late Date,  the first team to pitch, was about to be called up. We sat down separately on the edge of the mini black stage set up for the reception to be held immediately after Daniel and I, the last of the 3 teams, were finished. This was our last moment to ourselves before show time.

I took a sip of water and a couple deep breaths and was surprisingly relaxed. Daniel looked at ease too. Then our names were called and my ease vanished with a rush of adrenaline that hit me as I walked up the stairs while looking out at the thousands of people in the audience. I spoke into my microphone for the first time and a surge of happiness overtook me as I realized that we were talking about our vision, our company, our product that we had been tediously crafting for over a year, in front of a group of successful people from all over the country — and they appeared to be listening.

I’m still trying to figure out the sequence of events that took place after we left that stage. It was a whirlwind. We met successful entrepreneurs and interested investors, reconnected with alumni friends, and made new ones. One couple, parents of a current student, was so incredibly kind that they offered me to stay in their house in San Francisco while apartment hunting once I made the move out there in early June, after graduation. (Long story short – I stayed there for two weeks and I will remember, and will try my best to pay forward, their generosity for the rest of my life.)

We had some interesting conversations. We met some folks who talked to us about tax loopholes and international restructuring, and why we should invest our future earnings in racehorses. One man was adamant we move our accounts offshore. Somehow my love for aviation came up in one conversation around midnight with a fascinating alum who had flown his plane to Hamilton from Texas; two days later we were at the airport and I was at the controls of his plane.

No matter how fuzzy the sequence, what became crystal clear after Entrepreneur Weekend is that no matter the fate of Sapling Advisory, Daniel and I get to walk away incredibly rich. What we have learned and the experience of meeting so many incredible people, can never be taken away. The quick fluctuations between apparent moments of success and moments of failure throughout this whole process are teaching us to be level-headed and hopeful in the face of troubles, and humble in the face of triumph. As Daniel just reminded me after a long phone call: starting a business involves the constant fluctuation between despair and euphoria. It has been one amazing educational journey and one heck of a ride, one that we would not have been on if it wasn’t for the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute. From the bottom of my heart – thank you Wills, Bob, Andy, Mary, Dan, and everyone else that built and supported this program.

Now that the caps and gowns are forever stored away, Sapling moves into the summer months full-steam ahead. Our newest team member, Adam Buys ’17, started work June 2nd and has already hammered out a solid content marketing plan that will be one piece in a larger marketing strategy. Sapling is looking to grow its advisor pool, advance its marketing strategy, and undergo market testing to vet out the most viable product before scaling up. We have already made some substantial changes since the night of our big pitch, including shifting to a fiduciary only platform. We believe it is the right thing to do for our clients, and thus, is the right thing to do for our business. We have made some other changes as well and are continuing to keep our pipeline fresh with innovations.

We welcome input and would love to talk to anybody interested in learning more or getting involved. Sapling would not be where it is today without numerous and patient mentors and market experts willing to share their time and expertise. We are, and will always be, so appreciative.

-Josh Lasker ‘14

Josh Lasker ’14 was a geology major with a minor in ALST Caribbean Studies which he declared after studying abroad in Kingston, Jamaica. He started Sapling Advisory with his business partner, Daniel Swiecki ’14 as part of the TIA Student Incubator and both he and Daniel pitched Sapling to the panel on Friday night of Entrepreneur Weekend. He accepted employment with Proctor & Gamble post-graduation in the San Francisco Bay area and continues to work on Sapling with Daniel and Adam Buys ’17, which he hopes to make his full-time career in the near future.

Congratulations to TIA 2014 Graduates!

By Mary Galvez on May 19, 2014

Five Thought Into Actionstudents graduated this past weekend in Colgate’s 193rd commencement ceremonies. All of these students were star TIA entrepreneurs and will continue the businesses they began in the student incubator past graduation.

Justin Altus '14

Justin Altus ’14

Justin Altus is a multi-year TIA student who created two different businesses and will leave the Colgate campus a better place with BusPath, a real-time mobile app for the Colgate Cruiser. BusPath enables users to follow the cruisers in real time so passengers will always know where the cruiser is at any given time. He and a friend also created Canister Shotglass, LLC, a single vessel shotglass, separated into two chambers that allows users to drink a shot and simultaneously release the lock so that a chaser smoothly follows the liquor. There’s no word yet on which invention Colgate students find more crucial to their college experience.


Daniel Swiecki '14

Daniel Swiecki ’14

Josh Lasker '14

Josh Lasker ’14

Josh Lasker and Daniel Swiecki started Sapling Advisory, described as “like eHarmony* for financial advisors.” They match financial advisors to clients not just based on the services they offer, but also based on a large variety of personal attributes proven to lead to a more trusting relationship. Josh and Daniel pitched their business to the superstar panel during eWeekend and walked away with $5000 toward their venture. They were also awarded a Colgate Entrepreneur Fund award that will allow them to work on marketing for Sapling, enabling them to bring more financial advisors on board and reach out to more potential customers.


Amara Wilson '14

Amara Wilson ’14

Katie Rydell '14

Katie Rydell ’14

Katie Rydell and Amara Wilson have created an app that is the best place to find the perfect date for your next event! Late Date takes the stress out of finding a plus-one to any range of events, from high school proms to business gatherings. Katie and Amara were busy the month of April; they attended the UVANY Venture Forum: Ithaca Student e-Ship in CNY “Tomorrow’s Leaders” where they pitched their product to over 400 attendees including Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of Chobani, the keynote speaker. The following weekend Katie pitched Late Date to the superstar panel during Eweekend and almost 2000 audience members. Like Sapling, Late Date won $5000 for their venture. Katie and Amara were also awarded a Colgate Entrepreneur Fund award which will enable them to hire developers and further work on the technical aspects of their application.


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!



3rd annual Entrepreneur Weekend a huge success

By Mary Galvez on April 25, 2014


From the superstar panel discussion and Shark Tank competition on Friday night to the student demos and pitches on Saturday, the Colgate campus was infused with the energy and enthusiasm of the entrepreneurial spirit during the third annual Entrepreneur Weekend.

Friday night began with David Faber of CNBC’s Squawk on the Street moderating a discussion among some of the biggest names in Silicone Valley - Daniel Rosensweig P’15’17, former COO of Yahoo and now CEO of Chegg,  Tony Bates, former Microsoft executive VP and Skype CEO, Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder, John Donahoe, eBay president and CEO, and Ashton Kutcher, actor and founder of A-Grade Investments. This was followed by three teams from the TIA Student Incubator pitching to the panel in a Shark Tank-type competition. Although the four students who pitched were beyond nervous, they all looked calm, cool, and collected in front of the rock-star panel. All three teams walked away with funding for their ventures.

Andy Greenfield '74

A reception followed immediately after with the launch of The Entrepreneur Professional Network. Katie Finnegan ’05, chair of the Entrepreneur Network, gave some brief remarks introducing the network and how it will serve current and future entrepreneurial alumni. Another highlight of the evening was the presentation of an award to Andy Greenfield ’74 in recognition of his founding Thought Into Action. It was Andy’s idea that planted the seed of entrepreneurship at Colgate that in five short years has grown into the mighty oak that is the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute. THANK YOU, Andy!


arielSaturday kicked off with a panel discussion in Golden Auditorium on Colgate Networks and You, hosted by Katie Finnegan, Leo Russell P’15, Chair, Society of Families, and Gus Coldabella ’91, Trustee.  During this time, TIA students were setting up their booths in the Clark Room in the Hall of Presidents where alumni, parents, family, friends, faculty, staff, and students started trickling in around 11 am.  Students engaged with the visitors to their booth until all were called into lunch in the main room. President Herbst welcomed the crowd of more than 300 and introduced Teri Egler ’77, P’07, P’11, President of the Alumni Council. She had the pleasure of awarding the first Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Julian Farrior ’93, founder of Backflip Studios.

President Herbst then announced the winners of the Colgate Entrepreneur Fund for 2014. They are: Vern Clothing, Sapling Advisory, HUGS (Hamilton United Gift Shop), Prettier Please, and Late Date. Each venture will receive seed capital, incubator space for the summer in Hamilton, and intellectual resources from within the Colgate community.

Colgate Entrepreneur Fund winners

Colgate Entrepreneur Fund winners

Saturday culminated in Shark Tank II, where eight more teams from the TIA Student Incubator pitched their ideas to the crowd. David Fialkow ’81, P’17, co-founder of General Catalyst Partners, acted as the moderator, judge, investor, and even chief solicitor for additional investment dollars from the audience. In typical Fialkow fashion, he made things up as he went along, and though we had no idea what he would do, by the time things were over, he himself had pledged over $20,000 to the students and got audience members to commit another $20,000.  Audience members asked questions just like a real investment meeting, and all the students walked away with not just dollars, but a ton of real world experience in pitching and thinking fast on their feet.


pitchIf you are interested in supporting the entrepreneurial opportunities and experiences facilitated by the Thought Into Action Institute, please click here to make your gift. Please note “Thought Into Action Fund”  in the other designation field and note if you have a preferred venture in mind for funding. All support will be administered according to the guidelines of the fund.

Finally, an event of this magnitude could never be possible without the support and hard work of numerous departments across campus. Many, many thanks go out to a number of people and departments who all worked to put this special weekend together. From the President’s Office, to Institutional Advancement, Communications, Information Technology, Sodhexo, Buildings and Grounds – a heartfelt THANK YOU! Special thanks go to Mari Assaid and Rhea Dexter from the Special Events Office for coordinating all the different entities. The TIA team and our students are grateful for everything this incredible weekend has made possible. Recruitment is underway for the TIA Student Incubator for next year, and we’re looking forward to another exciting and successful year with our student entrepreneurs.


Picture credits go to Andy Daddio, Photographic Services Coordinator.


2014 Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund Winners

By Mary Galvez on April 18, 2014

Congratulations to the five winners of the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund announced this past Saturday at Entrepreneurs Weekend. The fund was established in 2013 to grow and advance the ventures of Colgate student and alumni entrepreneurs who are solving problems and demonstrating an ability to execute. The winners are:


HugsHUGS (Hamilton United Gift Shop)
Connecting the Hamilton business community to the global Colgate community, one “hug” at a time.
Max Stein ’17



LateDateLate Date
The best place to find the perfect date for your next event!
Katie Rydell ’14 and Amara Wilson ’14



prettier pleasePrettier Please
Professional hair and makeup services delivered to you at home.
Olivia Cranin ’07 and Rachel McLaughlin




Sapling Advisory
Like eHarmony* for financial advisors and prospective clients.
Josh Lasker ’14 and Daniel Swiecki ’14



VernVern Clothing
A socially responsible apparel brand that works with artisans in Guatemala to produce handmade fashion accessories.
Viktor Mak ’14 and Matthew Kordonowy ’14 (Washington and Lee University)


Each team was awarded a grant of $15,000 in start-up funds, incubator space for the summer in Hamilton, and intellectual resources from within the Colgate community.  The fund was created and initially funded by Dan Rosensweig P’15, ’17.

Read our archives.

Event details: Superstar panel and shark tank, April 11

By Jason Kammerdiener on April 8, 2014

Ashton KutcherWhen: Friday, April 11, 2014 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Where: Cotterell Court


Andy Kerr (football) parking lot and the Lacrosse parking lot near the hospital. Please do not park at the hospital. Handicap parking is available at Cotterell Court and the Huntington Gym with permits. See the Colgate University map.

This panel conversation on founding, funding, building, and scaling the most innovative companies in the world features some of the nation’s leading entrepreneurial experts, including:

  • Tony Bates, former CEO of Skype and executive vice president at Microsoft
  • Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb
  • Ashton Kutcher, actor, director, and A-Grade co-founder
  • Daniel Rosensweig P’15’17, CEO of Chegg

Moderated by David Faber, CNBC anchor/producer and host of Squawk on the Street.

Reservations required. Please bring your confirmation e-mail to enter.

Additional Information:

  • Doors will open at 5 p.m. There will be a bag check upon arrival
  • Please bring your confirmation e-mail to enter.
  • The use of electronics is permitted. Please refrain from flash photography or recording. Silence all electronic devices.
  • The program timeline will be 6 – 7:30 p.m. Please do not leave early unless it is an emergency.
  • For the safety of everyone, please do not attempt to approach the stage before or after the lecture. No autographs or photos with the panelists.

For more information contact the Office of Special Events for Institutional Advancement at cuspecialevents3@colgate.edu

TIA blog series: Participating in TIA, not as a student, but as an alum by Olivia Straub ’12

By Contributing Writer on March 28, 2014
Olivia Straub '12

Olivia Straub ’12

I am the anomaly in the TIA Student Incubator this year. While most TIA participants are in their prime Colgate years, I am not taking the course as a current student, but as an alumna. I graduated from Colgate in 2012 with a BA in Peace and Conflicts Studies. After graduating, I moved to Baltimore and fell in love with this city. I became inspired by all the potential Baltimore City has to offer. In the peak of being enthralled with this city and happy about the direction my life has taken, I began to think back on my journey and how I got to where I was.

I come from an immigrant family. Although my mother instilled in me early the notion that I would attend college, I would have never even known to consider attending a college such as Colgate University without the assistance of the various programs that I was a part of through my middle and high school educations. I was fortunate to participate in a program that prepared high achieving, low income middle school students for private high school, increasing my chances of applying to and being prepared for a private college. During high school, I had the amazing opportunity to hold long term volunteer positions and internships, boosting my resume. When I was accepted to Colgate, I was also able to participate in a program called OUS, which helped to prepare me for the rest of my college career.

While I was a student at Colgate, when TIA first came to existence, I desired to participate in the course; however, it never seemed to coincide with my schedule. Now, a couple of years out of Colgate, I began to envision a project that I wanted to see through ENGAGEbased on all of the aforementioned experiences I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to have. While looking at my own past and at the potential future of Baltimore, ENGAGE developed in my mind. ENGAGE (Empowering the Next Generation, Advocating for Greater Education) is a college preparatory program for Baltimore City public high school students which would also give them the opportunity to become politically and socially active in their communities. As my idea was developing, I thought, what better place to get support and knowledge than TIA?

Participating in TIA this year as an alumna has been nothing short of a challenge. In addition to a couple of other obligations, I have a full time job as an AmeriCorps Choice Service Learning Fellow, which takes on average 60 hours of my week. The shortage of time and the 6 hour car ride to Hamilton each way (often times starting at 3am day of the class) have made TIA demanding. However, I continue to go back every month because, just as challenging as the class has been, TIA has definitely been rewarding. Not only have I met and connected with numerous inspiring and motivating Colgate graduates and entrepreneurs, but I have also learned a great amount about how to develop a successful project. Although other constraints have prevented me from making as much progress as I would have liked on my venture this year, I now have the structure, the knowledge, and the support to push myself to new limits to make my vision a reality. Without TIA, I would still be thinking about my project without even knowing how to make the first step. With TIA, I now am confident that I can make ENGAGE a viable and successful program.

Editor’s note: When Olivia first contacted the TIA team about the possibility of participating as an alumna, we were unsure whether this would work. We decided to trial the option with Olivia and it has been a positive experience for everyone involved. There are challenges as Olivia discussed above, but while the TIA Student Incubator will continue to be student-focused, we may consider taking a small number of alumni each year if there is interest.

Read our archives.

TIA blog series: Sapling Advisory by Josh Lasker ’14

By Contributing Writer on March 25, 2014
Josh Lasker '14

Josh Lasker ’14

“The majority of client problems I have seen over my long tenure in the business, are due to personal differences”, one financial advisor told me in the fall of 2012. Just a few weeks before, my brother who is a young financial advisor in long beach California, Colgate Class of ’10, called me to say he tried some online lead generation services and saw much room in the market for improvement. He was interested in meeting new clients and was looking for innovative tools to do so. He said that existing techniques like cold calling were barely helpful at all.

I had interest and success in entrepreneurship prior to coming to Colgate, so it didn’t take long for me to decide that this market opportunity was worth pursuing. I recruited my roommate, Daniel Swiecki, to bring saplingon his computer science knowledge and his own entrepreneurial experience. We proceeded to analyze the marketplace and talk to as many financial advisors as we could. It was through these conversations that we learned that professional compatibility and personal compatibility are intertwined. We learned that we needed to build a service that didn’t just provide names and phone numbers to financial advisors, but also provided value to the clients that signed up: a service that could help financial advisors get leads of interested and compatible prospective clients, while simultaneously offering a free concierge-like service that can find someone a professionally competent and personally compatible financial advisor matched with their goals and expectations. I am proud to say that while we still have a long way to go, we have built that service.

Daniel Swiecki '14

Daniel Swiecki ’14

Our business, Sapling Advisory Inc., is like eHarmony for financial advisors and prospective clients. We match financial advisors to clients, not just based on the services they offer, but also based on a large variety of personal attributes proven to lead to a more trusting relationship. Trust is important in all relationships, but it is especially important when it comes to someone’s financial future.

Sapling makes it easy for the nearly 300k financial advisors in the US to find leads of interested, and compatible clients quicker and easier than ever before, and it allows clients to find an advisor that is more suitable to fulfill their individual goals than one that was recommended by a friend or had a smooth cold call pitch. We are simultaneously revolutionizing both the way America finds financial consultation and the way financial advisors find new clients.

The Thought Into Action Student Incubator has played a critical role providing us with mentorship on how to best take our product to market. We needed the expertise of professionals to guide our efforts. TIA is an incredible educational experience – the perfect complement to the traditional liberal arts education. Our lessons in coached experimentation and risk-elimination will continue to serve us as we embark on our journey after Colgate. This complement to the traditional liberal arts is what the liberal arts of tomorrow should look like across America. Truly, Colgate is leading the way.

Sapling Advisory Inc. is now fully functional, and wading into the marketplace as we speak. We have half a dozen financial advisors signed up as we run a beta test, and are currently focusing on learning about our prospective clients and how we can best reach them. Besides TIA helping to get us to where we are today, we have been overwhelmed by the warmth and generosity Colgate alumni have offered, as we research how to improve our product.

We are incredibly grateful for all of our partnerships Colgate has brought about and are really excited to build Sapling into the leader of the lead-gen market. Please contact me if you are interested in learning more, and in the mean time, I invite you to find your compatible advisor at saplingadvisory.com.

Josh Lasker ’14 is a senior Geology major with a minor in ALST Caribbean Studies which he declared after studying abroad in Kingston, Jamaica. At Colgate, he has served on the Budget Allocations Committee since 2nd semester of his freshmen year and now oversees the committee and the allocation of over $900,000 as Treasurer of the Student Government Association. He has also held leadership roles in Finance Club, Aviation Club, the Benton Scholars, is involved with Sidekicks (young child mentorship program) and occasionally engages with the Colgate Speaking Union through which he is the two time winner of the Kingsford Speaking Competition. He has accepted employment with Proctor & Gamble post graduation in the San FranciscoBay area.

Daniel Swiecki ’14 is a Computer Science and Mathematical Economics double major at Colgate. He is president of the Colgate Computer Science Club and is a former president of the Colgate Finance Club. He hates writing bios and sometimes likes to think he has a sense of humor. He is an editor for Colgate’s satirical newspaper, The Monthly Rag. Prior to coming to Colgate, Daniel had started a web design and development business and created online presences for a dozen local businesses. He has accepted employment with JP Morgan in the Corporate Investment Bank, in the Research & Development group in New York City post graduation. 

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