Life at Colgate has the tendency of making students feel as if they are in a bubble, isolated from the “real world”. Students identify themselves as being “students” and nothing more. Have fun, make friends and get good grades are some of the things at the top of their priorities list.
My good friend, Joey Petracca, and I were same way until our senior year. During the summer of 2012 we came up with the idea for starting a technology company called Recipe into Reality. We decided that we were tired of just reading textbooks, writing essays, and taking exams; we were ready to create a change in the real world.
Enter Colgate’s new entrepreneurship initiatives.
The Thought into Action Institute (or TIA for short) connects student entrepreneurs with successful alumni from all different backgrounds. Mentors range from artists to investment bankers to seasoned entrepreneurs, and the best part is that they are all passionate about helping students grow and succeed.
We walked into our first TIA session in the fall of 2012 and our lives have never been the same.
Over the next 12 months, we have accomplished more than I could have ever thought was capable for mere “students”. We raised our first round of financing, were finalists at the New York State Business Plan Competition, talked with executives at dozens of major grocery chains and publishing companies, and were awarded the Entrepreneurs of New York (ENY) Fund from Colgate.
The ENY Fund was an incubator program that provided 6 teams, including us, free office space in Hamilton, a $15,000 cash grant, access to alumni mentors and the chance to pitch at General Catalyst, one of the leading VC firms in the country.
It was an incredible program. The 6 teams were always present in the office space from 9am-12 midnight and we had roundtable discussions every week to help one another solve problems. And to top it all off, we all pitched our companies to associates at a top VC firm.
By far the most helpful aspect of these programs has been the network of mentors. As young entrepreneurs, we lack the business experience, critical in creating a successful company. To compensate, we have surrounded ourselves with over a dozen Colgate mentors that we are constantly in touch with that not only help grow our business, but help us to grow as entrepreneurs and as people.
Yuni Sameshima ’13 started Recipe into Reality with fellow Colgate alum Joey Petracca ’13 during their senior year at Colgate. Yuni and Joey participated in Thought Into Action where they brought their venture to fruition and in the spring applied for and were awarded an Entrepreneurs of New York (ENY) Fund grant to continue work on their startup. Yuni serves as the CEO while Joey is the COO. Through the ENY funding, they were able to hire Michael Francis, CTO, to further develop the technology of their website. The three continue to work out of the ENY/TIA incubator in the village of Hamilton.