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TIA blog series: Project Wrist Key by Tyler Sherper ’17

By Contributing Writer on January 20, 2015
Tyler Sherper '17

Tyler Sherper ’17

To lock, or not to lock. That is the question. Every time we walk out the door we have two simple options: lock our door at the risk of losing our keys which could result in a call to campus safety and a hefty lost key fine, or take the gamble and leave our door unlocked – vulnerable to the common thief.

Project Wrist Key is a bracelet that allows users to store their key by wearing it. My freshman year I started out locking my door when I went out, having to lug my key everywhere. After a couple of late night calls to campo and lost key fines, I was sick of it and just kept my door unlocked. Unfortunately, I fell victim to dorm room theft and had to resume locking my door. Project Wrist Key is the simple solution to a common problem, one that I think I can help a lot of people with.

Last semester I worked closely with a couple of mentors, specifically my group leader John Nozell ’81. He’s inspired my business decisions and shown unwavering encouragement. Furthermore, I’ve gotten strong support from Mary Galvez and Wills Hapworth ’07, while Paul Pollock ’82 has helped immensely with the legalities regarding patent content and business structure. I’m extremely grateful for theirProject Wrist Key time and guidance, and I can’t thank them enough.

The biggest challenge that I’ve been facing is the whole engineering side of my venture – I’m learning my strengths quickly and weaknesses even quicker. I’ve had to become an engineer, a sourcing expert, a salesman, an accountant – all within the last couple of months (some better than others). Adapting and executing things I have no prior knowledge on how to do has been the biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome, but I can’t explain how exciting learning something new is. It puts everything into perspective, revealing how all the many puzzle pieces fall into place to build your business.

This semester I plan on nailing down production, perfecting the first product, and then distributing it to my suppliers. I see Project Wrist Key reaching various aspects of the wearables market in the very near future, so stay tuned.

Tyler Sherper ’17 is from Mercer Island, Washington. She is an attacker for the women’s lacrosse team at Colgate and is a Molecular Neuroscience major and a Sociology minor. She is a member of the Delta Tau Chapter of Gamma Phi Beta sorority and is a passionate hiker and photographer.



TIA blog series: Fair Harbor by Jake Danehy ’16

By Contributing Writer on December 16, 2014
Jake Danehy

Jake Danehy ’16

Fair Harbor is a lifestyle brand that is based on the idea of the simplicity of summer and our dedication to the environment. We make men’s bathing suits out of recycled water bottles, using proven, high quality yarn. Every year 50 million plastic water bottles are discarded after just one use. These water bottles end up in landfills, the oceans, or are burned. Because of this, we believe that water bottles should be recycled, melted down, and turned into products that can be worn/used everyday. It is our mission to create a high quality performance product that embodies the pureness and simplicity that is Fair Harbor.

Fair Harbor is a town on Fire Island, New York — a place we went as kids and learned how to surf. Fair Harbor defines summer: clean beaches, no cars, the smell of salt water in the air. Because of our ties to and love of Fair Harbor, we feel that it is our responsibility to clean the oceans of plastic waste, so that everyone can always enjoy the luxuries of summer for a long time to come. Because of our passion for the outdoors, we donate 5% of our profits to the Surfrider Foundation, an organization that cleans up beaches, helping restore natural order to the ocean.

We came up with this idea because we love the ocean and want to keep it clean. We also saw a gap in the existing market for timelessly fashionable performance bathing suits. Because of the gap in the market and our dedication to the environment, we believe that Fair Harbor will be a success.

TIA has been incredible for Fair Harbor. I cannot express how helpful it has been to bounce ideas off of experienced and very knowledgeable entrepreneurs. The mentors in TIA have been through the start up process before, making their guidance and expertise extremely valuable to our venture. I honestly cannot thank them enough for their time.Fair Harbor

A few mentors that have been extremely helpful to our venture in particular have been my group leaders, Lynn Plant ’77 and Greg Dahlberg ’98. They have been instrumental in helping my team and me through some of the challenges that we have faced. Also, Wills Hapworth ’07, Andy Greenfield ’74 and Dina Dunn ’88 have been extremely helpful and very positive about our venture. Lastly, Paul Pollock ’82 has been exceptionally helpful by providing the legal service that we need to become a business and protect our brand.

Again I am so grateful for all of their help along the way, and cannot thank them enough for their time.

The biggest challenge that we have faced has been putting all of the pieces together to develop the bathing suits. Before we started, the process seemed pretty easy: go find fabric, make a design, and produce the product. We have found out, however, that it is much more complicated than that and there are many parties involved in developing a garment.

After running around for a few months trying to do everything ourselves, we finally hooked up with a manufacturing firm who helps entrepreneurs every step of the way, with product design, sourcing, sample making, sizing, and manufacturing. Sweenie Manufacturing has been great and if everything goes as planned, we foresee a production run of 500 pieces within the next few months.

Over the next semester we plan on making sure that our samples fit great and once we get that down we will move on to manufacturing. We are making one bathing suit design, with five different styles, 100 pieces of each style. I see this brand going far as we will not limit our brand to bathing suits. After we develop our bathing suit and are comfortable in the market, we will then expand our line to other beachwear, all with a vision of being sustainable, embodying the classic feel of Fair Harbor.

Jake Danehy ’16 is from Larchmont, New York and a goalie on the Colgate men’s lacrosse team. He is a geography major and has taken many classes on sustainability and properly allocating our resources. He is extremely passionate about the outdoors and loves all types of recreational activities and fitness. He has partnered with his 17 year old sister, Caroline who has a strong interest and adoration for fashion, as well as his best friend, Sam who is a business and entrepreneurial studies major at USC.


TIA blog series: The Condom Truck, by Emily Hawkins ’15 and Katie Williams ’15

By Contributing Writer on November 12, 2014
Emily Hawkins, The Condom Truck

Emily Hawkins ’15

Our venture is The Condom Truck, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to stimulate conversation about sexual health and positive sexuality. We distribute condoms labeled with three conversation starters, encouraging individuals to chat about sex in a fun, respectful way. With The Condom Truck, we hope to give people the tools, language, and permission to make sexy talk fun and exciting. We developed the idea on a car ride to Colgate Inn Trivia Night in July 2013, and instantly thought of TIA as the opportunity to turn our conversation into a reality, and a reality we can share.

TIA has given us a structured forum in which to develop our ideas. We were nervous to bring the idea to TIA because we understand that our venture is quite different than other ventures and deals with potentially more sensitive and personal topics. The support we have received, and continue to receive, from our mentors and fellow mentees has been paramount in turning our ideas into realities.

Katie Williams, The Condom Truck

Katie Williams ’15

Our next steps involve procuring an actual truck (only requirements: must be purple and have a side window), and determining a plan of action in terms of Condom Truck events and interactions. We also want to move beyond the conversation starter condoms, and expand our inventory of positive sexuality goodies.

The biggest challenge so far has been communicating our idea. It is easy for us to talk about positive sexuality, but explaining the foundation of our mission has had its difficulties; we are trying to change a conversation, not build a product. To that same effect, people are intrigued by our venture, and want to know more. This has helped us expand our support network and engage more individuals in the positive sexuality conversation. We’re super excited to continue building our venture!

Follow us on Instagram: @thecondomtruck

Emily Hawkins ’15  is a Peace and Conflict major and a Women’s studies minor and comes to Colgate from Honolulu, HI. She is passionate about issues of gender equality and has, while at Colgate, immersed herself in the positive sexuality movement. On campus, she is the program coordinator of Yes Means Yes, a 6-week, student-facilitated positive sexuality seminar; production manager of “This is Not a Play About Sex,” a student written and produced play; a three-year member of Link Staff, Colgate’s First-Year Orientation leaders and yearlong mentors; and president of the Konosioni Senior Honor Society.

Katie Williams ’15 is a  Geography and History double major from Washington, D.C. On campus she is the co-leader of the Swinging ‘Gates, Colgate’s only all-female a capella group; the co-president of the newly founded Geographers Without Borders club; a member of Colgate’s Campus Master Planning Committee; and Senior Admission Fellow. It was her experience in Colgate’s Yes Means Yes positive sexuality seminar that inspired her ventures in TIA. 


My story: Ram Parimi ’05, Social Tables

By Mary Galvez on October 23, 2014

At TIA, we know our strongest asset is our extensive and committed bank of entrepreneur mentors. Made up of alumni, parents, and community members, our mentors bring a wealth of experience, from successes and failures, in the startup world. It’s their experience that allows them to guide our student entrepreneurs to develop the insight, attention to detail, and dedication that they’ll need, not by lecturing them or giving out the answers, but by spurring them to action and fueling their passion. We asked a few of our mentors to provide updates on their companies and we would like to share those with you. We hope you find them as inspiring as we do.


Social Tables – Ram Parimi ’05

RamIn 2012 I started at Social Tables on our founding team of 5 to build and lead our sales efforts. Today my team is 15 and our company has 60 employees. Our award-winning event management software is used by Social Tablescatering sales teams at Hyatt International and Caesars Entertainment; national nonprofits such as Boys and Girls Club of America and The Recording Academy; corporate event planning teams such as Genentech and Forbes; advancement teams at world-renowned academic institutions such as Harvard Business School and Stanford University; and venues such as Navy Pier and MetLife Stadium.

In July, Social Tables secured $8 million in series A funding led by Tier 1 venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP). The funding allows us to take more risks and bring our vision of helping people achieve great things to life! With more than 200,000 events planned in the software in the last 2 years, we are pioneering the movement to bring collaborative software to the hospitality & event planning industry.


My story: Charlie Lambropoulos ’07, LYFE Mobile

By Mary Galvez on October 23, 2014

At TIA, we know our strongest asset is our extensive and committed bank of entrepreneur mentors. Made up of alumni, parents, and community members, our mentors bring a wealth of experience, from successes and failures, in the startup world. It’s their experience that allows them to guide our student entrepreneurs to develop the insight, attention to detail, and dedication that they’ll need, not by lecturing them or giving out the answers, but by spurring them to action and fueling their passion. We asked a few of our mentors to provide updates on their companies and we would like to share those with you. We hope you find them as inspiring as we do.


LYFE Mobile – Charlie Lambropoulos ’07

charlieIn May, the ad tech start-up I co-founded, LYFE, was sold to Blinkx, a video search technology company. It took 2.5 years to build LYFE, which is a mobile real time bidding and data management advertising platformLYFE and had 12 employees in Santa Monica, CA. We all now work for Blinkx, where I am Sr. Director of Business Operations and our team is working to help the company strengthen their programmatic ad products. Working for a larger company has definitely been a major transition, but it is exciting to have the chance to further scale the technology we created over the last few years.


My story: Janice Ryan ’94, Jump Ramp Games

By Mary Galvez on October 23, 2014

At TIA, we know our strongest asset is our extensive and committed bank of entrepreneur mentors. Made up of alumni, parents, and community members, our mentors bring a wealth of experience, from successes and failures, in the startup world. It’s their experience that allows them to guide our student entrepreneurs to develop the insight, attention to detail, and dedication that they’ll need, not by lecturing them or giving out the answers, but by spurring them to action and fueling their passion. We asked a few of our mentors to provide updates on their companies and we would like to share those with you. We hope you find them as inspiring as we do.


Jump Ramp Games – Janice Ryan ’94

janiceTrying to grow a start-up from the initial vision to a profitable business is never an easy job. It’s a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs. As the VP of Product and Platform at Jump Ramp Games, I can say jump ramp gamesproudly that our new native Android app, Lucktastic has reached almost 1 million downloads in less than 6 months from when it was first launched! We started out promoting smaller advertisers in our app and now are landing direct deals with national brands. We have become profitable, and our team has grown from just 4 employees 18 months ago to 15 full-time employees today. Now we’re in the process of fundraising for our next growth round, so that we can continue to grow exponentially.

Read more about Janice and the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute



Chicory, founded by Joey Petracca ’13 and Yuni Sameshima ’13 featured in Wired

By Mary Galvez on October 6, 2014
The Chicory team, from left: Joey Petracca, COO; Yuni Sameshima, CEO; Adam Donahue, CTO Chicory

The Chicory team, from left: Joey Petracca, COO; Yuni Sameshima, CEO; Adam Donahue, CTO Chicory

Joey Petracca ’13 and Yuni Sameshima ’13 continue to make strides with the venture they began in the Thought Into Action Student Incubator. Their startup, Chicory, is a site that connects recipe-hunting consumers to on-line grocers. They recently graduated from NYC’s premiere business accelerator program Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, where they worked with a number of experienced mentors whose advice led them to pivot and make some changes to their original vision for the company.  On Tuesday September 30th, Yuni presented Chicory in front of over 850 investors from NYC and all over the world. At the pitch Chicory announced major partnerships with Time Inc and the Daily Meal to get over chicory65 million impressions a month on their technology. Both myrecipes.com and thedailymeal.com are installing Chicory’s “get ingredients” button and testing out Chicory’s technology that links recipe content to online grocers. Read the full article in Wired.

Read more about Chicory and the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute


TIA Student Incubator Launches 6th Class

By Contributing Writer on September 25, 2014
Andy Greenfield '74 presents to the class

Andy Greenfield ’74 presents to the class

Colgate University’s 6th annual Thought Into Action (TIA) Entrepreneurship Institute Student Incubator class of 2014/15 recently kicked off with great enthusiasm from both entrepreneurs and mentors. The new crop of startups combines fresh ideas with ambitious growth plans.

Bob Gold '80 networks over lunch with Daniel Luntzel '17

Bob Gold ’80 networks over lunch with Daniel Luntzel ’17

TIA helps entrepreneurs master the “craft of doing” and transform concepts into enterprises. Most important to the ‘culture of doing’ is stressing to entrepreneurs that even if they are on the right track, they are going to get run over if they just sit there. TIA founder Andy Greenfield ’74 credits the program’s success and rapid growth to the incredible commitment of the alumni, parent, and community mentors. He often reminds participants that “a one person band makes limited music … the TIA mentors enable entrepreneurs to turn ideas into reality.”

The incoming student incubator class consists of 91 entrepreneurs comprising 40 new and 10 returning ventures. They each hope to build upon TIA’s past successes including the acquisition of Trupoly by a publicly traded company, the acceptance of Chicory into the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, and the growth and accomplishments of Lakota Children’s Enrichment, Inc.

The returning ventures in this year’s class are:

Rachel Rosensweig '15 and Kirsten Halvorson '15 pitch to the class

Rachel Rosensweig ’15 and Kirsten Halvorson ’15 pitch to the class

  • Age Together is a website that makes it easier for seniors and their families to find the resources necessary as they age.
  • Aviation Club provides exciting and educational aviation activities to Colgate students.
  • Eco Campus provides carbon-neutral paper at a competitive price.
  • HUGS provides alumni, students, and parents the opportunity to purchase local merchandise and gift packages.
  • On Giants’ Shoulders (OGS) utilizes videoconferencing to match high school/college student mentors with elementary and middle school students in underserved neighborhoods.
  • Sapling Advisory revolutionizes the lead generation space starting with financial advisors.
  • Scholastic TVs is a television rental business serving the college market.
  • Space Race will change the way study space is reserved on campus.
  • The Clothes Line is a consignment store for college campuses.
  • Vern is a socially responsible fashion brand that hand makes apparel using traditional weaving techniques.
Greg Dahlberg works with Viktor Mak '15 on Vern

Greg Dahlberg ’98 works with Viktor Mak ’15 on Vern

Greg Dahlberg ’98 is a TIA Mentor and leads the marketing team at a VC backed SaaS technology company that was acquired in 2013. He is a proven entrepreneur with experience building results driven teams that drive revenue growth, increase brand awareness, and create engaging content. Greg received his MBA from Cornell University and his BA from Colgate University.





Go for it @ TIA by Maggie Dunne ’13

By Contributing Writer on September 17, 2014
Jasmine Mans, Maggie Dunne, Jody Williams in Pine Ridge for the 2014 Writing Contest Award Ceremonies

Jasmine Mans, Maggie Dunne, and Jody Williams in Pine Ridge for the 2014 Writing Contest Award Ceremonies

In high school I founded Lakota Children’s Enrichment (LCE), a small nonprofit that provided coats, boots and books to children on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, home to the Oglala Lakota Nation. Today, Lakota Children’s Enrichment provides thousands of Lakota youth with opportunities for expression in arts, sports, and literacy and also provides leadership and mentorship training.

When I joined TIA in my sophomore year, I wanted to take Lakota Children’s Enrichment to the next level. By the end of that year I planned, funded, and ran a pilot sleep-away camp, and raised enough money to bring along an enthusiastic team of Colgate students and representatives experienced in running Native culture camps.

In my junior year, the TIA team helped me hone a 3-minute pitch, and encouraged me to implement programs to expand LCE’s impact. LCE’s online presence continued to gather momentum and later that year I was awarded the grand prize in Glamour Magazine’s Top Ten College Women Contest. I earned a $20,000 prize, which I donated to LCE.

The week after the Glamour award, TIA mentors invited me to a closed Q and A session with Sir Richard Branson. When Richard called on me, I gave a one minute pitch, used an oversized Glamour check as a prop, and asked if he knew a philanthropist who might be willing to match my own donation to LCE. Richard offered to match, on condition that a Colgate alum who was in the audience also match my donation. Within a few weeks LCE received over $60,000, which in turn, allowed us to expand our programs and scope.

The year since graduation has been a period of exciting growth. We formed a youth advisory board of Lakota teens who have proposed great ideas of their own– and LCE is turning those ideas into action! We produce youth summits that engage youth in service and challenge them to think critically about their future. Our mini-grant program helped fund a college tour for high school students, a math camp and we’ve collected over 18,000 books for schools and community organizations.

Last year, participation in our annual Writing and Spoken word contest grew by 200%, and we welcomed Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams onboard as a judge, along with a host of other impressive authors and poets including Colgate’s own Professor Peter Balakian.

On Saturday September 13, LCE held its’ inaugural fundraiser at Westerleigh, a private residence in Greenwich, CT. Our hosts covered all costs to ensure that all money raised went to LCE. Honored guests included Nobel Laureate Jody Williams and the CEO of Steiner Sports, Brandon Steiner — and Professor Balakian spoke at the event!

Nobel Laureate Williams said, ”I [am part of the LCE movement] because I think it is of fundamental importance. I’ve traveled to 75 countries in the world in my lifetime, and the degree of poverty and neglect in Pine Ridge is really horrifying. And the fact that … Maggie Dunne decided to do something about it, [to] work with the young people to help them understand that what they think and what they say matters, is very impressive to me… and I am glad that I am [involved].”

My work has continued to receive national recognition. I was named a 2014 Ariane de Rothschild Fellow, a 2014 Cordes Fellow, a “Next Generation Leader” by the Women in the World Foundation, a “Woman of Achievement” by Tri-Delta, and I accepted a position on the Leadership Council of Convergence Center for Policy Resolution.

When I look back at the journey, I am thankful for the generosity of the Colgate community and I am reminded of the importance of the Thought into Action Entrepreneurship Institute.

Brad Keywell of the Wall Street Journal’s Accelerator Blog said about the hiring process: “Too often people … focus on the tasks they have completed for their managers or the skills they picked up at business school. However, great entrepreneurs aren’t marked by their MBAs… they have a knack for identifying opportunity and turning ideas into reality.”

Taking risks is the essence of entrepreneurism and TIA mentors encouraged me to persevere, to treat everyone as a potential employer and– if it feels right — ignore the critics and plow ahead politely, but fearlessly. It’s okay to fail as long as you think big, put forth your best effort, and learn from your mistakes.

If you’ve got a dream but you’re not sure what to do with it, then get onboard with TIA.

To contribute toward our LCE campaign, click HERE. To watch a video of our call to action, click below.


Maggie is a 2013 magna cum laude graduate of Colgate, where she earned Excellence and Honors in Native American Studies, minored in Religion, and received the highest award for a graduating senior, the Colgate Alumni Corporation’s 1819 award. She also received a Voice of Conscience Award, the Dean’s Award for Community Service, was named a Dana Scholar, a Cobb Scholar, and received many other awards. Maggie is founder and president of Lakota Children’s Enrichment, Inc. and has worked in the Pine Ridge community for almost seven years building partnerships across the reservation with schools, community organizations, a youth advisory board, and parent volunteers. LCE engages a global VolunTEAM, which participates in projects to support youth on Pine Ridge.


Viktor Mak Strives to Make Real Changes Abroad

By Contributing Writer on September 12, 2014

With his new company, Vern Clothing, Viktor Mak ‘15 builds for stability in the Guatemalan highlands

Viktor Mak '15

Viktor Mak ’15

In 2013, Viktor spent the summer in the highlands of Guatemala and fell in love. He fell in love with the incredible Santiaguito and Santa Maria volcanoes, the colorful open-air markets, the picturesque Lake Atitlan, and the vibrant culture. But most of all, he fell in love with weaving – the handmade textiles, the backstrap loom, and the story each piece told.

But among the beauty, Viktor also became acutely aware of the harsh realities and challenges of Guatemalan life. These weavers were hard workers, putting in countless hours at their trade; but even so, they still face extreme economic uncertainty, discrimination, and underdevelopment.

That’s why Viktor decided to found Vern Clothing, a socially responsible apparel company that partners with Guatemalan weaving cooperatives to provide fair wages and economic stability in their communities.

“We were touched by the story of the Mayan weavers. After the Guatemalan civil war took the lives of many indigenous men, the women turned to weaving beautiful and elaborate textiles to support their families. Our mission is to share their talents with shoppers in America while providing opportunities for indigenous weavers,” said Viktor.

This July, the apparel startup caught the attention of the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund. The venture capital fund awarded Viktor a $15,000 grant and summer office space in Hamilton to grow his company. With the support of the CE Fund, Vern made huge strides in marketing strategy and production.

But more than just growing the company, Vern founders were careful that the money circled back to what was really important: the people in Guatemala.

“When we got the grant, we were excited to make some huge leaps in the functioning and scope of Vern, but what was most important was how we could grow that money to send even more back to our communities. Thanks to the push we got from Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund we are not only economically empowering our workers, but also directly investing in two community projects, the Clean Stove Building Project and the Education Fund,” said Viktor.vern

This July, Vern was spurred to action by the border crisis – thousands of child refugees from Latin American countries fleeing violence at the U.S. border. The company held an official launch, but also paired it with a fundraiser and sale in hopes of sending even more back to Guatemala, the country of origin for over a third of the children.

“That day was probably the craziest we have had. But when we closed up shop that night and were going over numbers, I remember having my jaw drop when I realized that, on top of all of the money we were sending back to the workers, we were also going to be able to send 5 kids to school through the Education Fund,” Viktor commented. “So much work still needs to be done, and we are heartbroken by the current immigration crisis, but with our partnerships and contributions we hope to provide Guatemalans with economic and educational opportunities, which will hopefully incentivize them to stay,” he added.

Vern sells their apparel downtown at 20 Utica Street and online at http://www.vernclothing.com.

Viktor Mak ’15 is a student of Global Studies and Philosophy at Colgate.  He started Vern last year in the TIA Student Incubator with his business partner and high school friend, Matthew Kordonowy, a student at Washington and Lee University. In addition to TIA, Viktor is involved with  SGA, Konosioni, the Benton Scholars, and the Open Society. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, learning, and leaving a place just a little better than he found it.