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 you 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.