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TIA blog series: Expand Aviation Club brings a blimp to Colgate by Colin Shipley ’15

By Contributing Writer on November 22, 2013

I opened a Campus Distributions email freshman year advertising a seemingly “too-good-to-be-true” 30-minute flight with a certified flight instructor, no prior flying experience necessary. I filled out the application, was accepted the following week, and soon found myself sitting at the controls of a Cessna 172 at 4,000 feet. After successfully controlling the plane back to the tarmac and having learned a great deal about airplane design and aviation technology, I knew an activity as educational and thrilling as these flights had to be continued at Colgate.

Students observe the Colgate blimp on a test flight in Sanford Field HouseFast forward to second semester sophomore year, when I assumed the presidency of Aviation Club from Joshua Lasker ’14 (also in TIA this year) who initiated the 30-minute Discovery Flights program. Having participated in Thought Into Action the previous semester and knowing the value of the mentors’ advice, I decided to introduce a project, Expand Aviation Club, into the realm of student endeavors. With the input of various mentors and student entrepreneurs in the program, I developed a strategy to market the club to the student body and interested alumni. Successful projects thus far include Soaring Discovery Flights with the Iroquois Soaring Association and the purchase of radio controlled airplanes and helicopters.

Though we have succeeded with a number of projects, none has been quite as unique and rewarding as our purchase of a radio-controlled blimp. After convincing the proper Colgate authorities, we signed off on the order of a 13 foot unmanned dirigible equipped with a GoPro Hero 3 camera that can Livestream in-flight video. Replete with Colgate decals, internal LED lights that enable night flight, and a drop feature that releases t-shirts or coupons into the crowd below, the blimp has a myriad of applications, ranging from filming athletic events to flying over Reunion and Spring Party Weekends. Training is available for students wishing to fly the blimp, and we hope to have a job listing for “blimp operator” open up sometime next year.

During the blimp endeavor and other projects, Thought Into Action has been instrumental in developing solutions to the challenges I have faced. Having access to alumni with decades of experience leads to innovative ideas and usually results in a simple solution I never would have considered. Furthermore, I find a lot of value in the effort that TIA puts into teaching students how to think and act as entrepreneurs. The skills I have developed throughout my three semesters in TIA helped me succeed not only in implementing Aviation Club projects, but will also apply post-graduation, whether as an employee or at the head of an aspiring start-up.

Janice Ryan ’94: Why I’m a TIA mentor

By Contributing Writer on November 19, 2013
Janice Ryan '94

Janice Ryan ’94

When I received an invitation to Colgate’s Entrepreneur Weekend about a year ago, I was excited to see that Sheryl Sandberg was headlining the weekend. As a working mother who had just left her corporate job to join a technology start up, I wanted to hear what Sheryl Sandberg had to say about “leaning in” since I had decided to take a big risk in my career. What I didn’t expect from the weekend was to be inspired by all of the Colgate student entrepreneurs and to invest in one of the student businesses that had come to life through the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute.

While the keynote speech was interesting, it was not the highlight of the weekend by far. As I listened to the student entrepreneur pitches the next morning and spoke with some of the students, I realized how much work and passion they had put into their business ideas. One business, Chicory (formerly Recipe into Reality), resonated with me. Chicory lets users place ingredients from recipes found online directly into their e-grocery cart with just a click of a button. This idea solved a problem I had frequently encountered, as I often look for new recipes online but the process of placing ingredients in my online shopping cart was cumbersome and too manual. As I talked more with Joey Petracca and Yuni Sameshima, the founders of Chicory and graduates of the class of ‘13, I realized that beyond being a member of their target audience, I also had a lot of valuable consumer marketing experience I could contribute to help them achieve success. I was very impressed by Yuni and Joey, and started thinking about investing in their business.

The rest of the day unfolded with an informative speech by Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder of Chobani, an exciting “Shark Tank” style presentation in the Chapel and a reception where I spoke with more students and some TIA mentors, one of whom encouraged me to get involved and become a TIA mentor. Did I mention I am a working mother of three young children? I thought I must be crazy to add another ball to my juggling act, but I also knew that TIA was an organization I wanted to join. It just made sense to pay it forward by mentoring students, and I had a feeling that I would get out of it as much as the students did.

At the beginning of November, I attended my first TIA weekend session at Colgate and was not disappointed. To be surrounded by dedicated and passionate students as well as business savvy TIA mentors who freely give of their time was invigorating and gratifying.

When I think back on receiving that invitation in the mail, I had no idea that it would have led me to become much more engaged in the Colgate community as a mentor and an investor. I am happy that I chose to attend since it has opened so many new doors for me and has allowed me to give back to Colgate in more than a purely financial way.

Janice Ryan ’94 is currently VP of Product and Platform at Jump Ramp Games, a well-backed pure play mobile start-up that is focused on pioneering a new mobile rewards category. Janice has firsthand experience with the fundraising process and is also an angel investor in emerging companies. Janice received her MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business and her BA from Colgate University.

Anil Narang ’85: music industry entrepreneur

By Contributing Writer on November 19, 2013
Anil Narang '85

Anil Narang ’85

My life as an entrepreneur in the music business began when a friend’s flight was delayed in Miami, and to kill time his driver took him to visit a pal’s CD plant (basically a garage). I was an investment banker at the time, and thought a CD was a certificate of deposit! Several months later we bought the company. Why? I had a vision, and spent the next five years re-imagining supply chain logistics for music, and formulating an acquisition strategy that transformed our segment of the industry…turning my vision into reality, or thought into action.

When I was asked to participate in Colgate’s Thought Into Action (TIA) program, I figured I was being tapped for my business experience. The program’s goal is to align budding entrepreneurs with alumni mentors who can provide insights and guidance, and help students avoid the common mistakes entrepreneurs make. I figured there would be business plans, presentations, the usual stuff…and that I could do this for a year (ho hum) and move on. Fast forward three years, and I am still mentoring.

What has captured my attention is that TIA students work on a wide range of projects that extend well beyond how to commercialize a product or design a more efficient service. Indeed, many TIA students do that. But others are trying to actualize a different kind of vision – for instance, how to promote sustainability in upstate NY or turn waste into bio-fuel in Sub-Saharan Africa. Jeff Herbst, President of Colgate University, described this to me as “social entrepreneurialism.” Very different, but very cool.

Colgate’s TIA program has been a great experience for me. I have gotten much more out of it than I have given. As a mentor I know my role and advice can help shape outcomes in ways I never imagined. I can also “play hard” within my comfort zone. I’ve taken a liking to a particular TIA project in the music business, and have been mentoring the students post-grad from Colgate. I realize how dated I have become, but on the other hand I can see these guys have a vision and passion not unlike the one I had, which inspires me. I am pushing them hard to re-examine their plan and encouraging them to take chances and make mistakes. With a little bit of capital (I’ve decided to invest), hard work, and perhaps a touch of good luck, I think we may be on to something. Stay tuned.

Anil Narang ’85 was co-founder and a principal equity sponsor of Alliance Entertainment Corp in 1990. Alliance was the largest independent music company in the United States. From 1990 through 1995, Narang served in a variety of executive capacities at Alliance including CFO, COO, Vice-Chairman and President. The company, which Narang and his partners sold to Wasserstein Perella in 1996, is currently a $2 billion (revenue) business and is controlled by the Yucaipa Companies. See how Anil thinks about Entrepreneurship below.

TIA students present at Women’s Studies brown bag

By Mary Galvez on November 19, 2013

On Tuesday, November 12, three Thought Into Action students presented on their ventures at a Women’s Studies brown bag.

Catie Barrett spoke about Hello From Here; Ariel Sherry presented on Age Together; and Viktor Mak delivered on his latest venture, Vern Clothing. The crowd of approximately 50 students, faculty, and administrators asked a number of insightful, thoughtful questions of the young entrepreneurs, keeping them there past the allotted one hour time frame. Below is a video of the event.

TIA blog series: On Giants’ Shoulders by Chelsea Dale ’15

By Contributing Writer on November 14, 2013

Consider this hypothetical report card comment about a 4th grade student:

Chelsea Dale '15

Chelsea Dale ’15

Johnny has shown no improvement since our last parent/teacher conference. He is still often inattentive in class and does not put sufficient effort into his homework. He loves participating in and discussing sports with his friends, but should channel some of this energy into his schoolwork. He has the potential to do much better.

Who is most likely to influence a change in his behavior?
(1) His parents, (2) his teacher (3) the school principal or (4) a motivated high school student who is also on the football team.

If you answered yes to any of these options, you are correct, however; only the fourth choice is an untapped resource that can motivate and inspire younger children. This is the core of my program, On Giants’ Shoulders.

On Giants’ Shoulders uses academically and socially accomplished high school or college students, web cameras, and the Internet to motivate under-performing elementary and middle-school students. Harnessing the power of peer motivation during once a week On Giants' Shouldersonline “chats”, the younger students are encouraged and inspired to become excited about learning and to respect their teachers, schools, peers, and the learning process. An older student group is paired with a younger student group. Each member of each group is then paired on a one-to-one basis according to individual interests.

It requires only 15 minutes a week and, as a nonprofit organization, there are no fees for our program.

TIA has provided me the opportunity to improve all aspects of my program; everything from the format of our website to pitching the idea most effectively to a group of school administrators. On Giants’ Shoulders, as an organization, is becoming more aware of how important mentoring programs are with the increased interest in our program, thanks to the many incredible TIA mentors and their wonderful colleagues and friends. A special thanks to all of the mentors, particularly Tim O’Neill, Dan O’Sullivan, Andy Culp, Lyle Morgan, and Patricia Nozell for their guidance and confidence in me and my program. Each has gone above and beyond to ensure that my program will become a success. Without TIA, On Giants’ Shoulders would not have evolved as quickly as it has in the past 3 months.

For more information regarding On Giants’ Shoulders, please visit our website: www.OnGiantsShoulders.org.

Chelsea Dale ’15 is a Psychology major from Leonia, NJ. She is the President of Active Minds,a nationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to reducing stigma associated with mental illness, particularly those that are prevalent on college campuses. She is also a member of the club volleyball team and the Shock Dance group. Chelsea is also an RA in the Alcohol, Drugs and Behavior Lab with Julia Martinez, PhD.

TIA blog series: LateDate by Katie Rydell ’14

By Contributing Writer on November 12, 2013
Katie Rydell '14

Katie Rydell ’14

I applied to Thought Into Action (TIA) on a whim with an idea that I was excited about, but not sure if it could become a reality. I didn’t know much about TIA, or what it could offer students, but I was ready to try something new and different. I quickly learned that TIA is the only program at Colgate that can offer students the unique ability to grow an idea into a reality.

I’m working on creating a mobile application with my partner, Amara Wilson, called LateDate. LateDate will help users find dates to many different types of events. Before TIA, this concept was utilized in lists passed around my sorority, where girls could recommend dates for formal and semi-formal events. Now, with the overwhelming support and help from my mentors, LateDate is being designed and developed into a mobile application. It has grown from being used solely in my sorority into an app that will help users find dates to a myriad of events, from high school proms to private parties.

Amara Wilson '14

Amara Wilson ’14

After only three months in the program, I already talk about TIA to everyone I know. I can’t believe this opportunity has been here the entire time I’ve been at Colgate and I’ve only just become a part of it. It is the most inspiring, educational, and ‘real-world’ experience I’ve had while being a student. The opportunity to take your idea and turn it into a reality is unbelievable, and it is possible with the help of TIA’s amazing alumni mentors who are part of the program. My specific mentors, Bob Gold, David Michonski, Greg Dahlberg, Jason Griswold, and Joey Petracca have helped me develop my idea into something greater than I ever expected it could be. TIA is a community of people wanting to see their dreams develop into a reality, and through this program I’m able to build LateDate into a functional mobile application.

Katie Rydell is a senior studying Economics and Spanish, while also president of her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Amara Wilson is a senior pursuing a major in Peace and Conflict Studies with a minor in Religion. Outside of the classroom she is president of Colgate’s Panhellenic Council and a member of the Konosioni Honor Society.

TIA blog series: Perspectives of a TIA student-turned-mentor by Mike Girard ’12

By Contributing Writer on November 8, 2013
Mike Girard '12

Mike Girard ’12

When I joined Thought Into Action as a junior, our seminars were in a single Coop conference room with about eight students led by Andy Greenfield, Wills Hapworth, and Bob Gold. Despite its modest beginnings (befitting any entrepreneurial venture), this talented alumni trio stoked a fire in me that continues to burn today. Their devotion to TIA, wealth of real-world knowledge, and high expectations for the students really rubbed off. Maggie Dunne learned to flex her previously unknown philanthropic muscles, shaping her social venture into the outstanding program that is Lakota Children’s Enrichment while I took my meager landscaping business “Collegiate Greenscaping” and bolstered it with market research, hiring strategy, sales effort, and off-season management planning.

Albeit an unglamorous venture, this business taught me scalable skills and TIA motivated me to grow it in ways I never would have on my own. I felt a true devotion to the program, even sending in video updates from France while on my study abroad for our mid-month calls. Collegiate Greenscaping tripled in size that summer, and then tripled again the next year as I expanded from a summer-only to a three-season, remotely managed operation. Without TIA, Collegiate Greenscaping would have remained a single-season venture. Instead of learning how to manage and grow a profitable business, I would have experienced only self-pity while laboring over rake and spade in the hot summer months.

My second year in TIA saw a vastly expanded cast of alumni mentors, a bigger space in the Ho Science building auditorium, and a sea of student ventures. This growth further expanded my opportunities to learn, motivate, and network. This networking turned out to be particularly important for my career – an introduction by Andy Greenfield got my foot in the door at an exciting action sports start-up. I began full-time a week after graduation and sunk my teeth in deeply and quickly. The dynamic challenges and learning opportunities at this start-up fueled (and continue to fuel) the entrepreneurial fire stoked by Andy, Wills, and Bob years earlier. TIA provided an invaluable element to my Colgate education – the opportunity to apply liberal arts-style critical thinking to a profit-earning venture in a real-world setting. It offered a bridge from the classroom to my career; I just had to put in the sweat and lay the stones. For this I feel deep appreciation to TIA. When asked if I’d join as a mentor, the answer was an enthusiastic “yes!”

As a mentor I feel uniquely suited to bolster this program from which I so benefited. Understanding its real world value, I can help invigorate the current students’ efforts and more effectively recruit new members. My start-up experience is less than most mentors’ but still relevant to young students’ ventures. By liaising between the two groups, I hope to help make the program more valuable for both. I understand what information the students want and what knowledge the mentors can provide, and every seminar is an opportunity to both learn and teach. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to give back to Colgate in a meaningful and reciprocal way so soon after graduation!

Mike Girard ’12 is the Director of Board Sports at G-Form in Providence, Rhode Island. Mike is an avid longboarder and is the founder and organizer of the largest longboarding event on the east coast.  He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Colgate with a double major in Environmental Economics and French. 

Feel-good food: Young alumni entrepreneurs creating their own definitions of edible goodness

By Contributing Writer on November 7, 2013

Colgate Scene associate editor Aleta Mayne recently talked to six young alumni who have created their own definitions of feel-good food, FeelGoodFoodwhether it’s workout fuel or gourmet sweet treats made from fresh ingredients. Link here to the full article.

Colgate’s Entrepreneurs of New York Fund winners continue to make news

By Contributing Writer on November 7, 2013

The Colgate news page recently featured an update on the ENY Fund winners on their website. It gave an update on the six businesses that spent six weeks in the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute at Colgate University this past summer. Link here to the full article.