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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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


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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


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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.

 

 

 

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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.

video

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

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