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Entrepreneur Professional Network

By Mary Galvez on July 16, 2014

eWeekend pictures 2014 054Colgate’s Professional Networks began in the summer of 2013 as a means to cultivate new professional opportunities for members of the Colgate community, promote alumni engagement, and support undergraduate professional development. Developed by the Office of Alumni Relations and the Center for Career Services, the first network — created by and for alumni in the finance community — held its launch in New York City on September 19. This was quickly followed by the launch of networks in the non-profit sector, entertainment, real estate, health and wellness, and digital media and technology. The Entrepreneur Professional Network launched on April 11 after Thought Into Action’s Entrepreneur Weekend all-star panel, where hundreds of alumni and guests were in attendance. The network is led by Katie Finnegan ’05, co-founder of hukkster, a disruptive online shopping venture that now boasts 250,000 users.

On June 13 – Colgate Day! – over 150 Colgate alumni gathered at Google NYC for the first of what will be a regular series of meetups and networking events geared toward those alumni with an interest in entrepreneurship. Many came just to see who else from the alma mater they love would turn up; others came seeking tangible advice and guidance on startup ideas they’re pursuing; and still others came interested to hear the life experiences of successful entrepreneurs as they consider taking the plunge. The event opened with remarks from President Jeff Herbst about the “state of entrepreneurship” at Colgate, and the momentum that continues to fuel the schools’ burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem. Afterwards Katie Finnegan led a revealing interview with Bill Kindler ‘08, painting a “behind the scenes” picture of starting a new business. Bill is the co-founder of Schoology, a highly successful learning management software with over $20M in venture capital backing. The evening culminated in a number of workshops discussing specific topics related to entrepreneurship such as technology and legal considerations.

According to Tim Mansfield, Associate VP for Alumni Relations, “Colgate alumni continue to show a passion for each other, students, and the university. The event at Google was a great exchange of ideas with alumni entrepreneurs while also celebrating Colgate Day. We are very grateful to Debra Locastro for providing the unique access to Google.”

Going forward, we will be treating the Entrepreneur Network just like a startup, as we endeavor to create a product that truly fulfills the desires and needs of our customers …YOU! So we need to hear more about what you’d like to get out of it. Please click HERE to complete a survey that will help us plan future events that will be relevant and useful to everyone in our Eship community. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at our next event.




TIA blog series: Sapling’s whirlwind ride after Eweekend by Josh Lasker ’14

By Contributing Writer on July 7, 2014
Daniel Swiecki '14 (right) and Josh Lasker '14 (left) pitch their venture to the panel during Entrepreneur Weekend.

Daniel Swiecki ’14 (left) and Josh Lasker ’14 pitch Sapling Advisory to the panel, including Tony Bates and Ashton Kutcher, during Entrepreneur Weekend.

I glanced across the stage and then down at my watch. I nodded to Daniel – we were finally up.

We made our way behind the black curtains to the back of the stage and took a few long paces in the dark to do a speed run-through of our pitch one final time. Late Date,  the first team to pitch, was about to be called up. We sat down separately on the edge of the mini black stage set up for the reception to be held immediately after Daniel and I, the last of the 3 teams, were finished. This was our last moment to ourselves before show time.

I took a sip of water and a couple deep breaths and was surprisingly relaxed. Daniel looked at ease too. Then our names were called and my ease vanished with a rush of adrenaline that hit me as I walked up the stairs while looking out at the thousands of people in the audience. I spoke into my microphone for the first time and a surge of happiness overtook me as I realized that we were talking about our vision, our company, our product that we had been tediously crafting for over a year, in front of a group of successful people from all over the country — and they appeared to be listening.

I’m still trying to figure out the sequence of events that took place after we left that stage. It was a whirlwind. We met successful entrepreneurs and interested investors, reconnected with alumni friends, and made new ones. One couple, parents of a current student, was so incredibly kind that they offered me to stay in their house in San Francisco while apartment hunting once I made the move out there in early June, after graduation. (Long story short – I stayed there for two weeks and I will remember, and will try my best to pay forward, their generosity for the rest of my life.)

We had some interesting conversations. We met some folks who talked to us about tax loopholes and international restructuring, and why we should invest our future earnings in racehorses. One man was adamant we move our accounts offshore. Somehow my love for aviation came up in one conversation around midnight with a fascinating alum who had flown his plane to Hamilton from Texas; two days later we were at the airport and I was at the controls of his plane.

No matter how fuzzy the sequence, what became crystal clear after Entrepreneur Weekend is that no matter the fate of Sapling Advisory, Daniel and I get to walk away incredibly rich. What we have learned and the experience of meeting so many incredible people, can never be taken away. The quick fluctuations between apparent moments of success and moments of failure throughout this whole process are teaching us to be level-headed and hopeful in the face of troubles, and humble in the face of triumph. As Daniel just reminded me after a long phone call: starting a business involves the constant fluctuation between despair and euphoria. It has been one amazing educational journey and one heck of a ride, one that we would not have been on if it wasn’t for the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute. From the bottom of my heart – thank you Wills, Bob, Andy, Mary, Dan, and everyone else that built and supported this program.

Now that the caps and gowns are forever stored away, Sapling moves into the summer months full-steam ahead. Our newest team member, Adam Buys ’17, started work June 2nd and has already hammered out a solid content marketing plan that will be one piece in a larger marketing strategy. Sapling is looking to grow its advisor pool, advance its marketing strategy, and undergo market testing to vet out the most viable product before scaling up. We have already made some substantial changes since the night of our big pitch, including shifting to a fiduciary only platform. We believe it is the right thing to do for our clients, and thus, is the right thing to do for our business. We have made some other changes as well and are continuing to keep our pipeline fresh with innovations.

We welcome input and would love to talk to anybody interested in learning more or getting involved. Sapling would not be where it is today without numerous and patient mentors and market experts willing to share their time and expertise. We are, and will always be, so appreciative.

-Josh Lasker ‘14

Josh Lasker ’14 was a geology major with a minor in ALST Caribbean Studies which he declared after studying abroad in Kingston, Jamaica. He started Sapling Advisory with his business partner, Daniel Swiecki ’14 as part of the TIA Student Incubator and both he and Daniel pitched Sapling to the panel on Friday night of Entrepreneur Weekend. He accepted employment with Proctor & Gamble post-graduation in the San Francisco Bay area and continues to work on Sapling with Daniel and Adam Buys ’17, which he hopes to make his full-time career in the near future.