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Social Entrepreneurship: How I turned my thought into action with TIA by Amanda Brown ’15

By Contributing Writer on June 30, 2015
Amanda Brown ’15 (left) talks with a student at  Entrepreneur Weekend in April.

Amanda Brown ’15 (left) talks with a student at Entrepreneur Weekend in April.

Ten minutes.

That’s all it took to raise more than $30,000 for my fledgling non-profit organization, a U.S. branch of Children and Youth First.

That works out to about $50 a second.

The money will go toward building a new boarding school for 200 underprivileged children at the Life Vision Academy in Nepal, and it’s the direct result of the powerful Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute (TIA) at Colgate University.

Specifically, this was a result of this year’s annual Entrepreneur Weekend on campus. E-Weekend, as it is fondly known, started at Colgate in 2012 when I was a first-year student. That year, our president hosted a Q & A session with Sir Richard Branson. In 2013, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg delivered a speech based on her book Lean In, and last year some of my friends and fellow students presented their startup ideas to an all-star panel that included Ashton Kutcher.

I’ve been a student-entrepreneur in TIA for only eight months. Participants spend one Saturday every month in group and individual workshops, learning from dozens of alumni and parent mentors who travel to Hamilton, N.Y. specifically to help us improve our elevator pitches, pitch decks, and business plans. Between those special Saturdays, we hold conference calls with our mentors and do a whole lot of going back to our respective drawing boards.

I was given the opportunity to conclude this year’s E-Weekend by pitching my venture on stage at a closing reception in the TIA incubator. I presented the pitch deck I developed at TIA, and I also showed a short video I’d put together with some of the Nepali children sending their messages of hope and thanks to the Colgate community.

As the video concluded, many in the audience were in tears. One alum raised his hand and pledged $10,000 if others would match it. Immediately, hands went up all over the room, sparking an impromptu fundraising firestorm. From the oldest alumni to the youngest undergraduates, audience members dug into their pockets. There have been entire years when Life Vision Academy didn’t see that much money. Raising so much in such a short amount of time left me speechless.

“I don’t think this could have happened at another school,” said Wills Hapworth, TIA’s alumni executive director.

That was all I could say after the event as well; this could not have happened without Colgate. Our network of alumni, parents, students, and faculty is unlike what other institutions can offer, and I would have never had the platform – or the skills and confidence – to share Life Vision Academy’s story with them if it weren’t for TIA.

The Colgate community has truly taken one undergrad’s idea and turned it into collective action. I have two favorite schools in the world, and to see the one in Hamilton, N.Y. unite like this with the one in Bhaktapur, Nepal has been unbelievable.

It’s amazing how much can change in 10 minutes.

Amanda Brown graduated this past spring with a major in Peace and Conflict Studies and a minor in Religion. She was one of the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund winners and was awarded a $15,000 grant for her non-profit. Amanda will continue working with CYFUSA while pursuing a Masters degree in either education policy or human rights.


2015 Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund Winners

By Mary Galvez on June 23, 2015
L to R: Dave Meyers, Alex Drakos, Caroline Danehy, Amanda Brown, Wills Hapworth, Shav Garg, Raffi Khatchadourian, Adam Buys, Alex Relph

L to R: Dave Meyers, Alex Drakos, Caroline Danehy, Amanda Brown, Wills Hapworth, Shav Garg, Raffi Khatchadourian, Adam Buys, Alex Relph

Congratulations to the six teams who were chosen as winners of the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund announced at this years Entrepreneur 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:

 

brainstorm

Brainstorm Technologies – a wearable headset to improve learning using tDCS (Transcranial direct-current stimulation).

David Myers ’14 and Alex Drakos ’16


 

CYFUSAChildren and Youth First USA – a non-profit that works to protect young Nepalis’ right to education.

Amanda Brown ’15


 

echoEcho App – helps you and your friends decide what to do on any given night.

Adam Buys ’17 and Julian Mazza


 

Fair Harbor Clothing – an active lifestyle brand for simple living.fair harbor

Jake Danehy ’16 and Caroline Danehy ’19

 


 

indify Indify – aggregates relevant artist statistics in on easy to find place.

Keshav Garg ’15 and Raffi Khatchadourian ’17


 

 Platform Athleticsplatform – an elite online performance training platform.

Alex Relph ’09 and Sam Breslin ’09

 

 

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TIA blog series: TIA – My Experience by Ariel Sherry ’15

By Contributing Writer on June 23, 2015

 

Jessica Alba and Jennifer Hyman meet with the Colgate Women in Business group on the opening day of Entrepreneur Weekend

Jessica Alba and Jennifer Hyman meet with the Colgate Women in Business group on the opening day of Entrepreneur Weekend

This is a story about the Colgate community, gerontology, entrepreneurship, Jessica Alba, and a job interview in California with the CEO of a new start up.

As a first year student, I joined the Adopt-a-Grandparent COVE group and discovered a passion for working with seniors. I took Professor Meika Loe’s Sociology of the Lifecourse class, which is all about aging and it inspired me to take what I was learning in the classroom and use it to better the lives of seniors. Despite my eagerness to help elders, I didn’t know how to go about doing something to make a difference. That’s when Professor Loe encouraged me to apply for the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute.

I was hesitant because I didn’t understand how creating a business was going to help me with my mission to help seniors. Also, I didn’t consider myself an entrepreneur.

Since I only had a rough idea of helping seniors, I was intimidated and shy at the start of TIA. But I stuck with it and began to gain confidence. One of the key lessons TIA taught me was how to effectively present or pitch my venture. Pitching required the ability to clearly and succinctly tell people about the problem I was solving, and how I planned to solve it.

I became good enough that in April 2014, I was selected to pitch my venture at the first-ever Shark Tank event on Entrepreneur Weekend. I was able to stand in front of more than 2,000 people, including a superstar panel, and pitch my idea. The experience made me a more assured public speaker and it gave me so much confidence.

At Entrepreneur Weekend 2014, Ariel Sherry ‘15 presents to an all-star panel in a Shark Tank

At Entrepreneur Weekend 2014, Ariel Sherry ‘15 presents to an all-star panel in a Shark Tank

Which brings me back to Jessica Alba.

Days before Entrepreneur Weekend, a TIA mentor alerted me to an amazing new startup trying to reinvent in-home senior care. Jessica Alba is one of their investors.

I made it my mission to ask her to connect me with the company. During a Q and A session with Jessica Alba and Jenn Hyman, founder of Rent The Runway, I seized the opportunity to ask Alba about the company and told her I wanted a job there. She agreed to connect me with the CEO and founder, a good friend of her husband’s.

A few days later I heard from the CEO and he asked when I could come to California to meet for an interview. We met this weekend. I don’t know what will come of it, but what I do know is that none of this would have been possible without the confidence I gained from TIA.

I can say with certainty that of all the things I’ve been a part of on campus, TIA has been the program that best represents what it was that drew me to Colgate in the first place. I came to Colgate because people here have a strong sense of community. At TIA, students, alumni, community members, and faculty and staff come together to make amazing things happen.

Congratulations to Ariel Sherry ’15 who was named Salutatorian for the Colgate class of 2015. Ariel was active in TIA for 2 years where she created her venture Age Together. She was chosen to pitch in last year’s eWeekend Shark Tank where she walked away with $5000 for her venture. Ariel was a double major in Psychology and Religion. In addition to TIA, Ariel was a team leader of Adopt-a-Grandparent, vice-president of finance for Delta Delta Delta sorority, member of the Konosioni Senior Honor Society, and Luminaria Chair for Colleges Against Cancer. Ariel graduated Summa Cum Laude, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and received numerous other honors and awards during her four years at Colgate. Congratulations and best of luck Ariel!  

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Another great eWeekend testimonial

By Mary Galvez on May 13, 2015
Keshav Garg '15 pitches Indify to the superstar panel (photo by Andy Daddio)

Keshav Garg ’15 pitches Indify to the superstar panel (photo by Andy Daddio)

Scott Spector, a writer for the Commercial Observer, a NYC real estate newspaper, happened to be on the Colgate campus on April 10 for a college visit with his son. The date coincided with the opening night of eWeekend, so Mr. Spector and his son decided to attend the all-star panel discussion, followed by the popular Colgate version of Shark Tank. Although they found the panel interesting, according to Mr. Spector, the fun really began when the students began pitching. Father and son were “amazed with the depth of the ideas and the provocative, insightful commentary from the panel.”

Read the full article here. Thanks to Kevin Danehy ’83 for forwarding the article to our attention.

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TIA blog series: Echo App, eWeekend, and TIA by Adam Buys ’17

By Contributing Writer on May 11, 2015
Adam Buys '17 pitches Echo App during eWeekend

Adam Buys ’17 pitches Echo App during eWeekend

Almost a month later I still get excited thinking back to Colgate’s Entrepreneur Weekend. From the all star panel, which included the likes of Jessica Alba and Neil Blumenthal, to the demo day that gave students like myself a chance to pitch their businesses in front of hundreds of alumni, eWeekend was an incredible experience. This capstone event marked the end of what was another great year for Colgate’s Thought into Action Entrepreneurship Institute. Since being accepted into the TIA Student Incubator back in September, I have been fortunate enough to get my business off the ground and take part in many of the great opportunities that TIA provides.

My venture is called Echo. Echo is a mobile application that looks at a user’s location and then generates a list of events happening around the user on that day. Since its conception, we have developed the application on multiple platforms, created extensive marketing plans, and have been fortunate enough to secure $15,000 in seed funding from Colgate’s Entrepreneur Fund. I can confidently say however, that none of this would have been possible without TIA. While developing the technology of the app, we were mentored by alums that were founders or cofounders of tech startups themselves. While planning Echo’s business model, we spoke with dozens of TIA mentors who invest in and mentor early stage startups to learn about what often works and what doesn’t. I realized very early on in TIA that a fifteen-minute conversation with someone who has already been in my position can save weeks of time that would otherwise be lost trying to solve a problem that someone else has already encountered and solved.echo

The unique advantage of TIA compared to entrepreneurship programs at other schools is the level of commitment and success of the mentors who take the time each month to come back to campus and mentor student entrepreneurs. One of the first things I found while starting Echo was that I knew almost nothing about how to build a business. The mentors in TIA have helped bridge the knowledge gap by providing hands on advice for everything from filing legal documents to thinking strategically about how to get the app in front of as many people as possible. I would strongly encourage any Colgate student with an idea for a business or not-for-profit venture to apply to TIA. Don’t let a fear of not knowing the next steps hold you back.

Adam Buys ’17 is a sophomore at Colgate majoring in Mathematics with a minor in either Computer Science or Philosophy. In his free time, Adam is an active member of the Colgate Debate Society. He is currently the president of the team and has won several tournaments including the novice national championship. His business partner is Julian Mazza ’18, a student at the University of Arizona and a Tucson native, also Adam’s hometown.

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What TIA has meant to me by Daniel Mosko ’17, Founder of PetFed

By Contributing Writer on April 23, 2015
Daniel Mosko '17 presents to an all-star panel

Daniel Mosko ’17 presents to an all-star panel during Entrepreneur Weekend

I came into my first year of the Thought Into Action Student Incubator with nothing more than an idea and walked away with all the knowledge, connections, and resources needed to be successful in the competitive world of business. That’s a loaded statement if there ever was one, but let me explain.

In the Incubator, all the ventures are broken into small groups where 3-5 alumni mentors focus on your group specifically. My mentors went above and beyond what was asked of them and really took me under their wing. I came to TIA with absolutely no idea of what to do to progress my venture. The mentors pushed me in the right direction and taught me the true value of networking. As it turns out, there are Colgate connections to just about everything petfedyou can think of. Some of my friends who were trying to start businesses ended up failing because they didn’t know how to do something that was required for their business; for example building a prototype. TIA taught me the value of not being afraid to ask. In order to be able to ask, you need someone to ask, which brings me back to that networking thing.

The other huge tool TIA gave me this year was the ability to present. In my first pitch to just a small group, I was nervous and ended up stuttering my way through the entire thing. By the end of the year, I was able to pitch my venture to a celebrity panel during Entrepreneur Weekend – in front of more than 2,000 people. The mentors want to see us succeed and in my case specifically, that meant doing a lot of work on my pitch.

Think about how much collective experience these mentors have, coming from backgrounds ranging from CEO’s of successful companies to young entrepreneurs themselves. Getting constructive feedback from just a fraction of them allowed me to identify my weaknesses and work on them with help from these mentors until they no longer existed.

This year’s work in TIA culminated in Entrepreneur Weekend, where the kickoff event featured a panel of incredibly accomplished celebrity entrepreneurs. The panel discussion concluded with a student venture shark tank where four student ventures were selected to get on stage and pitch to these celebrities and CEOs.

I attended the event last year as a freshman and when I was sitting in that audience, I remember thinking how cool it was that students just a year or two older than me got to be on that stage with all of those celebrities right there in front of them. I never thought I would have been one of them, yet alone the very next year. Just goes to show what one is capable of doing in TIA!

I whole-heartily recommend applying for TIA – I went from watching, to pitching MC Hammer and Jessica Alba.

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Children and Youth First USA in the news

By Mary Galvez on March 24, 2015
Amanda Brown '15

Amanda Brown ’15

Check out two articles featuring Children and Youth First USA founded by Amanda Brown ’15. CYFUSA is the US branch of a Nepali NGO founded in 2008 to directly help marginalized children access their right to education. In Nepal, CYF runs a boarding school called Life Vision Academy, which currently provides a safe home and progressive education for 34 underprivileged children from across the country. These kids all come from challenging backgrounds, some are homeless, and all of the girls are the first of their families to receive a full education.

The USA team works independently in fundraising and grant writing to benefit the improvement and expansion of Life Vision Academy. The current goal is to purchase the school’s own property to escape the steep rent on the current plot, and then build a larger facility to accommodate 200 students by 2016.

On March 14, nearly 50 Colgate alumni, students, faculty, and parents came together for Colgate’s first ever off-campus Hackathon to create innovative ways to boost up CYF as part of Colgate’s Day of Impact . Hosted by Jeff O’Connell ’94 at his downtown Maker Studios offices, the Colgate Hackathon involved engineers, computer coders, and technicians who helped Amanda enhance the web presence of CYFUSA. Read the full article.

On March 20, Amanda wrote a blog post for the Huffington Post Business section entitled Why Colgate’s Day of Impact Matters. In the post Amanda speaks about her organization, why she has taken on this cause, and how the Colgate community has come together to support her efforts. Amanda is truly an inspiring young lady and will speak at the TIA reception during eWeekend about her experiences. Please plan on joining us.

(Left to right) Thought Into Action founder Andy Greenfield ’74, P’12, digital technology network volunteer Jeff O’Connell ’94, Amanda Brown ’15, and Thought Into Action Executive Director Wills Hapworth ’07 during Colgate’s Hackathon on Saturday, March 14

(Left to right) Thought Into Action founder Andy Greenfield ’74, P’12, digital technology network volunteer Jeff O’Connell ’94, Amanda Brown ’15, and Thought Into Action Executive Director Wills Hapworth ’07 during Colgate’s Hackathon on Saturday, March 14

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Apply to Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund 2015 for a chance at $15K

By Mary Galvez on February 25, 2015
Recipients of funding work in the incubator space that occupies a former hardware store in downtown Hamilton.

Recipients of funding work in the incubator space that occupies a former hardware store in downtown Hamilton.

The TIA team is THRILLED to return with the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund. The fund was established in 2013 to grow the ventures of Colgate student and alumni entrepreneurs who are solving big problems and have demonstrated an ability to execute. A grant of $15,000 is given to each of the winning teams to help bring their ventures to commercial viability while incubating in Hamilton, NY.

The awards are decided based on the quality of the venture and team. The fund is open to for-profit ventures and must have at least one Colgate member on the founding team.

Over the past two years, eleven teams have been awarded $165,000. Many of these teams have gone on to raise additional rounds of capital, have been part of esteemed programs such as TechStars, and achieved profitability with their ventures.

Ventures are judged by a panel of alumni and parent entrepreneurs on a number of different criteria, including; ability to execute, team, commercial/social impact, impact of problem being solved and solution proposed, viability of bringing the project to fruition, stage of development, etc. We are seeking more than just an idea; prototypes and customers are a plus, as is additional interest and support from outside investors.

More information about eligibility, award benefits, & judging criteria, can be found HERE.

At least one member of the founding team must reside in the village of Hamilton for the full six-week duration of the incubator. Awardees will have access to entrepreneurial mentors in the Colgate community and the regional startup ecosystem in Central New York, and will be introduced to potential investors. Teams maintain all rights to their intellectual property and are provided with office space.

Applications are now open and due by March 20, 2015…but don’t procrastinate. APPLY TODAY!

Awards will be announced on April 11th @ Colgate’s Entrepreneurs Weekend.

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Colgate Day of Impact – NYC Hackathon

By Mary Galvez on February 25, 2015

Powered by the Common Good Network, the Digital Media & Technology Network, and the Entrepreneur Network.

hackathon
Saturday, March 14, 2015
10:00 a.m. | Teams Formed, Hacking Begins
5:00 p.m. | Presentations & Reception

Do you like to solve problems? Please join us for the first-ever off-campus Colgate Hackathon in New York City! This hackathon will gather smart, capable Colgate alumni, students, and parents to solve real world problems for the Colgate Thought Into Action Institute and for a student-run venture called Children & Youth First (CYFUSA), a not-for-profit run by Amanda Brown ’15 designed to educate young women in Nepal.

For more information and to register, see HERE.

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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.

 

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