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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.

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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

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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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April is a busy month for entrepreneurship in Upstate NY

By Mary Galvez on March 14, 2014

Lots of activity within the Upstate New York entrepreneur ecosystem is taking place in the month of April. Here’s just a sampling of events in which TIA students will be participating:

eweekend_registration-header3Colgate is proud to announce Entrepreneur Weekend 2014, April 11–12. Join us as we kick off this powerful weekend with a superstar panel, featuring experts on the business of creating a business. Ashton Kutcher, actor, entrepreneur, and startup investor, will be the highlight of a panel at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 11th in Cotterell Court. He’ll be joined by CNBC’s David Faber, former Skype CEO Tony Bates, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, and CEO of Chegg Dan Rosensweig P’15’17. Other highlights from Entrepreneur Weekend include a competition between Thought Into Action Student Incubator participants for a $15,000 grant from Colgate’s Entrepreneurs Fund, the launch of the Entrepreneur Professional Network in the Hall of Presidents and student venture demos hosted by General Catalyst Partners co-founder David Fialkow. Also, Julian Farrior ’93, will receive the first Entrepreneur of the Year Award for his achievements with video game maker Backflip Studios. Click HERE for Entrepreneur Weekend schedules and updates.


uvanyUpstate’s colleges and universities have long attracted, trained, and exported the talenthamdi that fuels the most successful companies in the world. Over the past few years, an entirely new model has emerged where entrepreneurial students are able to launch their efforts while still in college and also benefit from access to mentors from surrounding business communities. Colgate’s Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute is one of the sponsors of the UVANY Venture Forum: Ithaca Student e-Ship in CNY “Tomorrow’s Leaders” with Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of Chobani and featuring top student entrepreneur (eShip) teams. Tuesday, April 8, 2014 from 4:00 – 9:00 pm, Ithaca College, Emerson Suites, Ithaca, NY.


NYBPC Official Logo2014 will be the fifth annual New York State Business Plan Competition (NYBPC). It is a statewide collegiate student business competition representing more than 50 colleges and universities. Since 2010 over 570 student teams have pitched their ventures through this competition. Through 2013, more than $800,000 in cash and prizes have been awarded to New York student entrepreneurs. In 2014 it is expected that there will be $500,000 available in prizes. In 2013, Chicory, a TIA-incubated venture, took first place in the regional competition at Syracuse University, and moved on to the state finals where they placed fourth, out of a field of hundreds of startups. Friday, April 4, 2014 at SUNYIT Kunsela Lecture Hall. The winners of the regional competition will advance to the state level competition to be held April 25, 2014 at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, NY.

Apply to Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund 2014 for a chance at $15K

By Contributing Writer on February 18, 2014

The TIA team is thrilled to return with the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund.

The fund was established to grow and advance the ventures of Colgate student and alumni entrepreneurs who are solving big problems and demonstrating an ability to execute. Last year six teams were selected from a highly competitive pool of over 40 student and alumni ventures. Three of the teams have gone on to raise additional capital and another team is currently in the process.

A grant of $15,000 will be given to each of the winning teams to help bring their ventures to commercial viability while incubating in Hamilton, New York. The number of awardees will be decided based on the quality of the venture and team, not based on a quota. The fund is open to for-profit and not-for-profit ventures with at least one Colgate member on the founding team.

Applications are now open and due by March 18, 2014…but don’t procrastinate. To learn more about Eligibility, Award Benefits, & Judging Criteria click HERE. APPLY TODAY!

Please share this message with ANY Colgate students and alumni that you know who are out there taking big risks and creating new ventures.

Read our archives.

Thought into Action is now Colgate’s Entrepreneurship Institute by Wills Hapworth ’07, Alumni Executive Director

By Contributing Writer on February 18, 2014

Thought into Action (TIA) began in 2009 as a small boot camp at Colgate for students that wanted to take an idea and turn it into something real. Led by one visionary alumni mentor, Andy Greenfield ‘74 P’12, seven intrepid teams learned just how difficult, rewarding, and character transforming it is to move from idea to reality. Five years later the TIA Student Incubator remains the crown jewel of Colgate entrepreneurship, but so much has happened since then!TIA Entrepreneurship Institute

This past fall, the Thought into Action Entrepreneurship Institute was created to serve as the umbrella for all the entrepreneurial activity and programming that has been created since Andy set the first ripples in motion. With the mission of supporting, promoting, and advancing entrepreneurial activity across the Colgate community, the institute now includes the Student Incubator, Entrepreneurs Weekend, The Entrepreneurs Fund, the Entrepreneurs Club, the Entrepreneurship Summit Series, and our biggest asset – a growing community of Colgate entrepreneurs.

Our core TIA team of Jean Schroder, Mary Galvez, Bob Gold ‘80, Andy Greenfield and Wills Hapworth ’07 has consistently tried to innovate and push the boundaries where possible, but we have also tried to remain true to a few core beliefs, that continue to guide our future thinking.

We believe that entrepreneurship is truly about the act of creating something that did not exist before. It’s not about making lots of money, accumulating power and influence, securing big capital raises, etc. Those are all very useful measures of success, but at the end of the day it’s the act of creating something that didn’t exist before that is the essence of true entrepreneurship. Mastering the ‘craft of doing’….developing the ability to ‘make stuff happen’, is what we all expect our young entrepreneurs to come away with. And this is a skill that can be applied across every aspect of their lives going forward….regardless of whether or not they become full-time entrepreneurs.

Great mentorship –provided by the incredible commitment of alumni and parent mentors–forms the heart and soul of the TIA incubator, and really distinguishes the TIA Entrepreneurship Institute from programs at other universities. We are so fortunate to have such a long and rich history of entrepreneurs at Colgate, that feel so much love for the school that they’re willing to come back and give of their most precious resource…their time. It’s a good thing we don’t have to pay them their market rate or our program would never exist! But those who have experienced the value of a great mentor know how special and elevating that relationship can be. It is unequivocally the engine that drives our entrepreneurial programs and we are immensely thankful of all the mentors’ work…thank you.

Lastly, in entrepreneurship you must reward and encourage action, execution, “trying it”, or whatever else you want to call it. “I’ve met thousands of people with great ideas” as Andy says, “and they’re all worth about 25¢”. It’s only through hard work, perseverance, testing, failing, getting up again, and evolving that you can turn a “good idea” into something that is great and changes the world. “Action” and “Just Do It” are the mantra at the foundation of all entrepreneurial programming we look to develop at Colgate.

We have also learned a lot along the way and thought it would be interesting to share some of our key insights:

  • “Liberal arts” is an ideal environment for entrepreneurship, where the critical thinking “engine” of the classroom meets the executing “transmission” of an entrepreneurial culture.
  • There is NO replacement for getting great people together in person…no software or telephone conversation can replace the magic that happens when great minds get together because they WANT to.
  • Entrepreneurial ecosystems take a long time to build, but are very dedicated and tightly knit, and create value in so many different and unexpected ways.
  • Being an entrepreneur and being entrepreneurial – no matter what, it is a mindset towards solving problems that is valuable for anyone to develop, whether starting your own company or leading a team within a large non-profit, etc.
  • There is no replacement for the love that people feel for Colgate, and developing programs where all constituencies interface in a meaningful way to share experience and knowledge is as good as it gets.
  • As important as the bottom-up approach has been in building true believers, the support we’ve enjoyed from President Herbst and others at the top, has created a perfect storm for entrepreneurship to flourish at Colgate.

Through hard work, perseverance, and adaptability, what started as a simple idea 5 years ago has turned into a groundswell of activity and opportunity at Colgate around the idea of entrepreneurship. But no startup is successful without a sprinkling of luck and good fortune, and luck in our case came in the form of the overwhelming entrepreneurial spirit from the Colgate community. This stuff is core to our community’s DNA, and we are only beginning to scratch the surface.

Thank you for all of the support, critique, insight, commitment and patience. We are all in this together and we hope you’ll visit the institute pages to see the latest results of this giant group effort, and continue to inform us and think about getting involved!

Read our archives.

Entrepreneurship Summit Series Presents . . .

By Mary Galvez on February 11, 2014

The first workshop in the newly created Entrepreneurship Summit Series was presented by Professor Joel Sommers on February 6. “What every entrepreneur should know about Agile web development” introduced the concepts and practices behind Agile software development, which is well-suited to building great, long-lasting web-based applications. The one-hour workshop was geared towards students who may have a great idea that they are trying to get off the ground and want to get started on the right foot; already have a site deployed but wanted to learn about and follow best-practices; or for those who were simply curious about how the best websites get built. No prior experience in software development was expected or necessary.

About 15 students, as well as staff from Communications and ITS, attended the workshop. It was encouraging to see so many non-TIA (Thought Into Action) students in the crowd. This reinforces our belief that there is a large number of students on campus who are interested in entrepreneurship. We will follow this workshop up with “How to make a Kickstarter-type video” and “Using social media to advance your venture” later in the semester. The Entrepreneurship Summit Series will also be hosting speakers this semester. Stay tuned for more details!

Here is the video of the workshop:

How the liberal arts build entrepreneurial muscle, by Andy Greenfield ’74 P’12

By Contributing Writer on January 30, 2014

The following article appeared in The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit news organization focused on producing in-depth education journalism.

Andy Greenfield '74 P12

Andy Greenfield ’74 P12

Virtually all of the people I have met as an entrepreneur have had good ideas, and some of them even had great ideas. However, only a tiny fraction of those people have taken those ideas and made them happen. It is only by moving from thought to action that you make a difference.

Liberal-arts graduates have great basic training for turning an idea into an action. The school from which I graduated, Colgate University, prepared me for the rocky road of entrepreneurship by teaching me to think critically, communicate well, and to ask the question “What if” [...] Read more

Watch Andy discuss why an entrepreneur needs to “look in the mirror.”



Age Together, Ariel Sherry ’15

By Mary Galvez on January 21, 2014

“Baby Boomers” – the generation of people born between 1946 (after the end of World War II) and 1964. They currently number 77 million people and the first of the boomers started turning 65 on January 1, 2011. The senior age group is now, for the first time, the largest in terms of size and percent of the population in the U.S. By 2030, nearly one in five of all U.S. residents will be aged 65 and older. These staggering numbers do and will continue to impact the U.S. economy, workforce, health industry, social services, and communities throughout the U.S.

Ariel Sherry '15

Ariel Sherry ’15

Ariel Sherry ’15 has a passion for working with seniors. As a team leader of Adopt-a-Grandparent, through the COVE, and as a participant in the Elders Project (part of the Sociology of the Lifecourse class), Ariel has enjoyed getting to know the Hamilton community of elders. After taking a course on the sociology of aging from Professor Meiko Loe, she was inspired to do something even bigger to improve the quality of life of seniors in the community. She approached Professor Loe with her idea and it was Professor Loe who encouraged her to apply to the Thought Into Action Student Incubator.

When Ariel first thought about applying to TIA, her idea was very broad – she just wanted to help local seniors. However, she soon realized that the first step in figuring out what seniors wanted most was to ask them, and it was then that she knew that an assessment alone could be a beneficial venture. It was with this idea that Ariel applied to TIA. Her venture is called Age Together, which is an organization that assesses how senior-friendly a community is in terms of how well it provides seniors with opportunities for social, civic, and intellectual engagement. Age Together then shares these results with community leaders and, when necessary, proposes ideas of programs and plans for implantation that would make the community more senior friendly. Age Together is currently assessing Hamilton, NY.

According to Ariel, the TIA program and mentors have helped her form her idea into something concrete. She says “My mentors were the ones who actually helped illuminate for me that the assessment itself could be a project. The lectures, specifically learning how to pitch, helped me focus my idea. The group feedback sessions, particularly because many of my mentors live in or know Hamilton, gave me ideas about who to talk to in the community to make my Age Together assessment work. One of my mentors, Sharon Polansky,  has experience in market research and spent a generous amount of time with me helping me to create an effective survey. Having the monthly meetings and mentors gives me a sense of accountability I might not have otherwise and helps me break down my project into more manageable goals.”

Ariel spent last semester solidifying her venture and determining what she wants her goals and outcomes to be. She has met with community leaders to discuss the survey and get their feedback on the validity and usefulness of the survey; so far they have been very encouraging. She has been able to distribute some surveys, but it has been challenging to figure out the best way to get the surveys to the right people. Her plans for next semester include disseminating the survey to as many seniors as she possibly can in order to get the best sampling possible for her study. She will also begin analyzing the first batch of surveys that have been returned. According to Ariel, “Once I get a number of surveys back, I’ll be able to aggregate the data to create a report for the community. In the near future, Age Together will be working with Hamilton officials to make use of the findings of the assessment. Down the road, I hope to bring Age Together to other communities.”

Ariel’s venture is just one example of a student taking a subject that she is passionate about, studying it in the classroom, and working through TIA to develop an idea into a sustainable, value-creating venture. With her Colgate education, Ariel will have many opportunities open to her; with her experience in TIA she has the potential to define her own path after graduation. She is just one more example of how Colgate students continue to change the world.

Ariel Sherry ’15, from Needham, MA, is a junior, double majoring in psychology and religion. She plans on going into the field of gerontology after graduation.  At Colgate,  she has participated in the Adopt-A-Grandparent group since freshman year, and has been helping lead the group for the past two years. She has a 96-year-old friend in town whom she has now been visiting just about weekly for almost three years.