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Katie Finnegan ’05 is co-founder of hukkster

By Contributing Writer on December 19, 2012
Katie Finnegan '05 Colgate University Huckster

Katie Finnegan ’05, Co-founder of hukkster

Confidence is a fickle thing when you’re thinking about starting a company. Sure, you innately have it or you wouldn’t even be thinking about striking out on your own, but there are absolutely peaks and valleys when you’re taking your first steps. You’re unsure, but passionate. You’re certain until you hear something from someone about a failed endeavor and then that feeling goes away. However, it miraculously comes back at 3:24 a.m on a Tuesday!

The point is, confidence is wild. But then comes what I like to call, the “goosebumps” moment. It’s the moment where your confidence in what you’re about to tackle hits a tipping point and doesn’t look back. You go all in. And thoroughly unexpectedly, my “goosebumps” moment happened at Thought Into Action’s first e-weekend…

It was April 2012. My to-be business partner, Erica Bell, and I had been thinking and planning on our idea, hukkster (http://hukkster.com) for the last few months. We had been trying to figure out how we could make this happen while still maintaining our day jobs (or at least parts thereof), how many hours we could dedicate… the risk mitigation list goes on. Bottom line, we were straddling this fence between finding a safe, logical way to make it work and going all in.

Then in April 2012, I was back at Colgate for the annual Spring Alumni Council meeting (and coincidentally Colgate’s first TIA Entrepreneurship Weekend). I spent the first half of the weekend listening and absorbing. Hearing real stories. Real experiences. All of these things were nudging my confidence closer and closer to the tipping point. And then the “goosebumps” moment happened. I was sitting as a panelist on the “On The Web” panel, explaining hukkster to the students, alums, and parents in the audience.

After I finished my two-minute elevator pitch, I quickly realized–This was it. The response and enthusiasm I received from the audience was overwhelming. Erica and I had experienced encouragement, support and interest before, but it is an entirely different sort of validation when it comes from people beyond your immediate friends and family. These were complete strangers. And they were excited about hukkster! That was the “goosebumps” moment.

Two weeks later, I left my consulting job and went all in. And since then, Erica and I have built hukkster into a real company. We serve 40,000+ members and our reach is rapidly growing. We raised $1 million in seed funding. We’ve been lucky to interview with the likes of the New York Times, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC and even appear on the TODAY show.

Without TIA and the Entrepreneurship Weekend, that tipping point might have happened far later than it should have—or not at all. And as I stay involved in TIA, I can’t wait until I see another alum or student experience the “goosebumps” moment.

Katie Finnegan (Colgate, Class of 2005) is the Co-Founder of hukkster (http://hukkster.com), a free online shopping tool that helps you track products on sites you love, get notified when those products go on sale and gives you the ability to buy when the price and time are right.


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