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BubbleTrails – Bubbles, a Princess, Pirates, and Dreams

By Mary Galvez on January 28, 2016
Jean and her daughter Jessie

Jean Neidhardt and her daughter Jessie

True to the start-up nature of TIA, this past year we tried something new. We opened the Student Incubator to community members. We have three non-students who are incubating their ventures alongside our student entrepreneurs. Clay Skinner owns the Hamilton Eatery and is interested in possibly expanding his business while also looking for new opportunities. Scott Williams also owns a local restaurant, N13 and joined TIA to develop new ideas for growing his business. Jean Neidhardt developed a board game and is looking for help in bringing the game to market as the first in what will hopefully be a line of bathtub games for kids. We spoke with Jean about her venture as well as her experience in TIA.

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Jean Neidhardt is from Morrisville, NY and has spent the last 36 years working in various industries in management positions. A few years ago, when her daughter Jessie was a little girl, they came up with an idea for a board game that would make bath time fun. Jean talked to a number of people about her idea, and while everyone told her it was a great idea, Jean wasn’t sure how to even begin to turn that idea into a reality. Over the years she did some preliminary work by creating a rough prototype and tested it a bit, but mostly the idea just sat in the back of her mind. When she was presented with the opportunity to join the TIA Student Incubator, Jean jumped at the chance. The positive reaction she got from the mentors and students when she pitched her idea at the very first session in August was validation that she might be on to something. Jean has bubbletrailsspent these past months working on BubbleTrails, the first in a series of bathtub games for kids. She has created and distributed surveys to end-users, developed a business plan, refined the artwork and design of the game, created additional prototypes and tested them with real users, created a website, and is currently taking pre-orders. She knows she still has a way to go before BubbleTrails is ready for distribution, but Jean is excited by the prospect of finally seeing her dream become a reality.

What is your venture and how did it come about?
Bathtub Games for Kids, Inc. creates educational board games that are waterproof and played in the bathtub by young children. Our first product is called BubbleTrails. This game makes bath time fun. It teaches children how to take a bath while learning about colors, letters, shapes, and numbers. The first child to complete the bubble trail is clean and dry, with teeth and hair brushed, PJs on, and in bed. Parents then read to their young children an enchanted story about Jessie and her golden retriever Riley called, “The Girl Who Would Never Take a Bath.” BubbleTrails helps parents create more quality time with their children and helps everyone get more sleep.

The idea for BubbleTrails just happened one day when Jessie and I were sitting at the dinner table. Our family, and our very close friends who lived next door when we were growing up, have always created lots of games. Some of them are: The Ball Game, Peggy in the Hole, Mop Pail, Bean the Man on the Moped, War, Panther Tunnels, Black Ghost and more. That’s probably why BubbleTrails just popped out.

Jessie with her brothers and dog Riley

Jessie with her brothers and dog Riley

Have you started any other businesses? Why now?
In addition to being an Enterprise Operations Manager at The Hartford Insurance Company, I also own a leadership coaching business and coach private clients part-time. Check out my landing page at http://www.jsnllc.com.

Now is a perfect time for me to start another business. My three children are now grown. Christopher is a leasing manager at several malls in NY and NJ. Ryan is in his second year of a medical residency in California. Jessie, the little girl who inspired the story, is in her first year at Hamilton College where she’s playing soccer and studying neuroscience.

What has your experience been like in TIA?
TIA has been an absolutely wonderful experience for me. I was a little concerned about being an older person in the middle of a lot of college kids but that hasn’t turned out to be an issue at all. In fact I’ve made some great friends. The mentors are very knowledgeable, experienced in creating businesses, and they care very much about our success in carrying through on our ventures. They keep us focused! That is the reason that we have come so far.

Anything else you want to add?
I am so grateful to be part of TIA and Bathtub Games for Kids, Inc. will be a successful business because of all that TIA has done.

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TIA graduates Maggie Dunne ’13 and Ryan Smith ’13 make Forbes 30 Under 30

By mhames on January 5, 2016

Congratulations to Maggie Dunne ’13 and Ryan Smith ’13, each of whom has made an appearance on one of Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 lists.

Maggie Dunne (Photo by Erica Hasenjager)

Dunne, who double majored in Native American studies and religion, founded Lakota Children’s Enrichment, Inc., (LCE) while still in high school. As a Colgate sophomore, she joined the university’s Thought Into Action Student Incubator (TIA) working with alumni mentors to expand her venture and further LCE’s mission to “empower Lakota youth and amplify their voices by providing opportunities in the arts, education, sports, leadership, and mentorship.”

In 2012, Dunne was named one of Glamour magazine’s Top 10 College Women, eventually being awarded the grand prize of $20,000 for her accomplishments. Before investing the funds in LCE, she was able to triple the amount by asking Sir Richard Branson to match it – which he did while challenging an anonymous alumnus to do the same.

Dunne was also awarded the prestigious 1819 award during graduation weekend, an award given to one senior whose character, scholarship, sportsmanship, and service to others best exemplify the spirit that is Colgate and the value of a liberal arts education. Dunne was named in the education segment of the Forbes 30 Under 30.

Ryan Smith during his days leading EcoCampus, LLC. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Smith, who majored in international relations at Colgate, also joined TIA during his sophomore year. He co-founded the environmentally friendly paper supplier EcoCampus, LLC, with partner Brendan Karson, ’13 and then sold it during his senior year to four juniors — TIA classmates.

As a senior at Colgate, Smith started Trupoly, a crowdfunded real estate investment platform. He incorporated Truoply while in TIA and sold it to RCS Capital Corporation in July 2014. Smith makes the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the enterprise tech category for his company LeafLink.

Related:
Maggie Dunne ’13 triples support for nonprofit with CEO help
Colgate ‘paperboys’ grow green business

 

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