The Entrepreneurs Fund was created in 2013 in recognition of the large number of student and alumni entrepreneurs throughout the Colgate community who are solving problems and demonstrating an ability to execute. Open to for-profit and non-profit ventures with at least one Colgate member on the founding team, the fund offers prizewinners the opportunity to grow their ventures with seed capital; incubator space for the summer in Hamilton; and intellectual resources from within the Colgate community. The Efund was created in 2013 with a lead gift from Dan and Linda Rosensweig P’15, ’17. Five teams were chosen to participate in this years fund that began May 30 and runs through July 14. Rob Carroll ’15 and Nick Freud ’15 of CampusReel, wrote the following article detailing their experience in the program.
The atmosphere in the incubator is one of energy, optimism, and a friendly dose of competition. Each team wants to be the first one in the office, and the last one to leave; and with this particular group, it means that none of us sleeps much. We have weekly ‘scrums’ where we all sit together for an hour in the morning and discuss the current state of each company, milestones we want to achieve for the week, and problems in the business that we are working through. Addressing these issues as a team fosters a strong sense of community in the incubator, and results in all of us taking a vested interest our peer’s businesses. More than anything, however, the team building in the incubator is a very powerful way for us to gain a unique perspective from a group of likeminded entrepreneurs making their way through an exciting and unpredictable process.
The network that TIA has allowed us to tap into has been truly invaluable for us at this stage in the process. Over the past three weeks in the incubator, we’ve conducted upwards of thirty meetings with serial entrepreneurs, brand strategists, psychologists, lawyers, and other professionals who have helped hone our company vision, product development, and execution strategy. In a process defined by uncertainty, we feel so fortunate to be able to consult this prolific network of mentors as we navigate through this process. Building a company in the early stages is an exercise in efficient problem solving, with no real framework or precedent to inform each decision. It can be overwhelming at times, but we cannot overstate how motivating it has been for us to be able to speak with experienced professionals who were once in our shoes, and have now found high levels of success in their respective industries. Each mentor we have spoken to has been unbelievably warm and accommodating, and has provided us with the tools and information necessary to effectively build our companies.
Finally, we’ve very much appreciated the way that TIA allows us to be entirely autonomous as we build our companies from the ground up. On the first day of the program Wills Hapworth ’07 [Alumni Executive Director of TIA] met with all of us and explained that, as entrepreneurs, it is paramount that we all understand how to be disciplined and self-directed on a daily basis. The incubator provides us with all the necessary structures and recourses to excel, but it puts the impetus on the entrepreneurs to capitalize on the opportunity. At the end of the day, if we fail there is no one to blame but ourselves, and the same can be said for if (and when) we succeed!