Home - Distinctly Colgate - Entrepreneurship - Entrepreneurship News
Entrepreneurship News

Latest Posts

TIA Mentor named Entrepreneur of the Year

By Mary Galvez on June 5, 2017

Melissa Coley ’79, President-elect of the Alumni Council awards Oak Atkinson ’87 the Entrepreneur of the Year award

TIA mentor extraordinaire, Oak Atkinson ’87, was selected as the Colgate alumni council’s 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year during this years eWeekend in New York City. Oak is the founder of tumbalina, the artisanal and digital card company that measures its success in smiles by “touching hearts one by one.” In 2003, the first year in business, tumbalina won several industry awards, including a “Louie”, (the Oscars of the stationery industry), and the American Package Design Award. In 2015, tumbalina sold over 17 million cards with clients like Snapfish, Walgreens and CVS .


While Oak is super busy running her multi-million dollar business, she is also a wife, mother and artist. Yet, she still makes time in her busy schedule to come to campus once a month to mentor TIA Incubator students. Why? To give back to Colgate and to “pay it forward,” as the saying goes. And . . . “it’s also fun.”

In addition to mentoring, Oak has taken it upon herself to hand-stencil a number of walls in the TIA incubator with inspirational and relevant quotes. This has been a laborious and time-consuming project that has added so much visually and inspirationally to our space. Oak has volunteered her time to this project, as do all of our mentors. TIA absolutely could not survive without our incredible group of alumni, parent and community mentors.






THANK YOU Oak and congratulations on this well deserved award.



Colgate hosts sixth annual Entrepreneur Weekend

By mhames on May 17, 2017

Colgate University, Thought Into Action (TIA), and the Entrepreneur Professional Network hosted the sixth annual Entrepreneur Weekend on April 29, bringing alumni, parents, students, and friends together for the first time in New York City.

The festivities included a panel conversation moderated by Forbes magazine tech editor Steven Bertoni ’02. The panel included: Samantha Radocchia ’11, co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Chronicled; Cliff Sirlin ’89, co-founder of the Domino Media Group and now managing director at LaunchCapital LLC; and Ram Parimi ’05, co-founder and vice president of sales, Social Tables. (Read more . . . )

Inc. Magazine names two TIA ventures among Coolest College Startups

By mwalden on April 25, 2017

Last month, while the sports world was reveling in March Madness, entrepreneurs were tuning in to Inc. magazine’s Coolest College Startup competition to see which of 16 ventures would win the 2017 title.

This year, Colgate was the only university represented twice on the brackets — and both ventures made it to the third round of the competition, thanks to votes from the public: Trippie, the airport-guidebook app launched by Ryan Diew ’17 and Samantha Braver, and swimwear company Fair Harbor, founded by Jake ’16 and Caroline ’19 Danehy.

“We were incredibly thrilled and humbled to be chosen as one of the 16 Coolest College Startups,” Caroline Danehy said. “We definitely wouldn’t be in the position that we are in today if it weren’t for the support of Colgate’s Thought Into Action incubator and community at large.”

The Thought into Action Incubator pairs alumni and parent mentors with student entrepreneurs, providing the guidance and encouragement that undergraduates need to identify and overcome problems through new business start-ups. Fair Harbor and Trippie have also earned venture funding during the university’s Entrepreneur Weekend Shark Tank pitch competitions. (Read more . . .)



Fifth Annual Entrepreneur Weekend

By Mary Galvez on April 20, 2016
Thought Into Action students gather on stage at Colgate’s fifth Entrepreneur Weekend celebration. (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

Thought Into Action students gather on stage at Colgate’s fifth Entrepreneur Weekend celebration. (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

Colgate and Thought Into Action hosted the fifth annual Entrepreneur Weekend, April 8–9, celebrating the relentless determination that goes into successful ventures and connecting students with veteran business builders.

The weekend kicked off with a keynote conversation on Friday night. Moderated by Forbes magazine tech editor Steven Bertoni ’02, the panel included Tyler Haney, CEO of Outdoor Voices; Payal Kadakia, CEO and co-founder of ClassPass; Jon McNeill, president of global sales and service at Tesla Motors; Clare MacGoey, CFO of Giphy; and David Fialkow ’81, managing director at General Catalyst Partners.

The Shark Tank–style competition was moderated by Peter Boyce of General Catalyst Partners and Rough Draft Ventures alongside Andrew Parietti ’10, president of Outdoor Voices. The panel heard from Thought Into Action students Samantha Braver ’18 and Ryan Diew ’17 of airport navigation app Trippie; Richard Sanders ’17 of the sports beverage company Seela; Miranda Scott ’18 of The Waffle Cookie, a socially conscious baked-goods start-up; and Rex Messing ’15 and Ryan Clement ’16 of the outdoor adventure firm Tuwa Tuwa, Inc.

After delivering their pitches and answering a series of questions from the pros, the students split a $20,000 pool of capital that will help them move their ventures forward. The first-place prize of $6,900 was awarded to Trippie; second-place $5,200 to The Waffle Cookie; third-place $4,100 to Seela; and fourth-place $3,800 to Tuwa Tuwa, Inc.

On Saturday, an expo-style event was held in the Hall of Presidents where twenty teams of entrepreneurs showcased their ventures to almost 400 alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends. Five teams alternated pitching their ventures during the afternoon to an enthusiastic and welcoming crowd. The weekend wound up with a reception at the TIA Incubator downtown with one final presentation by Jehdeiah Mixon ’18 and Hannah Shaheen O’Malley ’17 pitching their venture UNRAVEL.

Read the full article by Mark Walden from the Colgate Communications office.

Read the Maroon News article here.



Social Entrepreneurship: How I turned my thought into action with TIA by Amanda Brown ’15

By Contributing Writer on June 30, 2015
Amanda Brown ’15 (left) talks with a student at  Entrepreneur Weekend in April.

Amanda Brown ’15 (left) talks with a student at Entrepreneur Weekend in April.

Ten minutes.

That’s all it took to raise more than $30,000 for my fledgling non-profit organization, a U.S. branch of Children and Youth First.

That works out to about $50 a second.

Listen to Amanda talk about Life Vision Academy

The money will go toward building a new boarding school for 200 underprivileged children at the Life Vision Academy in Nepal, and it’s the direct result of the powerful Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute (TIA) at Colgate University.

Specifically, this was a result of this year’s annual Entrepreneur Weekend on campus. E-Weekend, as it is fondly known, started at Colgate in 2012 when I was a first-year student. That year, our president hosted a Q & A session with Sir Richard Branson. In 2013, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg delivered a speech based on her book Lean In, and last year some of my friends and fellow students presented their startup ideas to an all-star panel that included Ashton Kutcher.

I’ve been a student-entrepreneur in TIA for only eight months. Participants spend one Saturday every month in group and individual workshops, learning from dozens of alumni and parent mentors who travel to Hamilton, N.Y. specifically to help us improve our elevator pitches, pitch decks, and business plans. Between those special Saturdays, we hold conference calls with our mentors and do a whole lot of going back to our respective drawing boards.

I was given the opportunity to conclude this year’s E-Weekend by pitching my venture on stage at a closing reception in the TIA incubator. I presented the pitch deck I developed at TIA, and I also showed a short video I’d put together with some of the Nepali children sending their messages of hope and thanks to the Colgate community.

As the video concluded, many in the audience were in tears. One alum raised his hand and pledged $10,000 if others would match it. Immediately, hands went up all over the room, sparking an impromptu fundraising firestorm. From the oldest alumni to the youngest undergraduates, audience members dug into their pockets. There have been entire years when Life Vision Academy didn’t see that much money. Raising so much in such a short amount of time left me speechless.

“I don’t think this could have happened at another school,” said Wills Hapworth, TIA’s alumni executive director.

That was all I could say after the event as well; this could not have happened without Colgate. Our network of alumni, parents, students, and faculty is unlike what other institutions can offer, and I would have never had the platform – or the skills and confidence – to share Life Vision Academy’s story with them if it weren’t for TIA.

The Colgate community has truly taken one undergrad’s idea and turned it into collective action. I have two favorite schools in the world, and to see the one in Hamilton, N.Y. unite like this with the one in Bhaktapur, Nepal has been unbelievable.

It’s amazing how much can change in 10 minutes.

Amanda Brown graduated this past spring with a major in Peace and Conflict Studies and a minor in Religion. She was one of the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund winners and was awarded a $15,000 grant for her non-profit. Amanda will continue working with CYFUSA while pursuing a Masters degree in either education policy or human rights.

TIA blog series: TIA – My Experience by Ariel Sherry ’15

By Contributing Writer on June 23, 2015


Jessica Alba and Jennifer Hyman meet with the Colgate Women in Business group on the opening day of Entrepreneur Weekend

Jessica Alba and Jennifer Hyman meet with the Colgate Women in Business group on the opening day of Entrepreneur Weekend

This is a story about the Colgate community, gerontology, entrepreneurship, Jessica Alba, and a job interview in California with the CEO of a new start up.

As a first year student, I joined the Adopt-a-Grandparent COVE group and discovered a passion for working with seniors. I took Professor Meika Loe’s Sociology of the Lifecourse class, which is all about aging and it inspired me to take what I was learning in the classroom and use it to better the lives of seniors. Despite my eagerness to help elders, I didn’t know how to go about doing something to make a difference. That’s when Professor Loe encouraged me to apply for the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute.

I was hesitant because I didn’t understand how creating a business was going to help me with my mission to help seniors. Also, I didn’t consider myself an entrepreneur.

Since I only had a rough idea of helping seniors, I was intimidated and shy at the start of TIA. But I stuck with it and began to gain confidence. One of the key lessons TIA taught me was how to effectively present or pitch my venture. Pitching required the ability to clearly and succinctly tell people about the problem I was solving, and how I planned to solve it.

I became good enough that in April 2014, I was selected to pitch my venture at the first-ever Shark Tank event on Entrepreneur Weekend. I was able to stand in front of more than 2,000 people, including a superstar panel, and pitch my idea. The experience made me a more assured public speaker and it gave me so much confidence.

At Entrepreneur Weekend 2014, Ariel Sherry ‘15 presents to an all-star panel in a Shark Tank

At Entrepreneur Weekend 2014, Ariel Sherry ‘15 presents to an all-star panel in a Shark Tank

Which brings me back to Jessica Alba.

Days before Entrepreneur Weekend, a TIA mentor alerted me to an amazing new startup trying to reinvent in-home senior care. Jessica Alba is one of their investors.

I made it my mission to ask her to connect me with the company. During a Q and A session with Jessica Alba and Jenn Hyman, founder of Rent The Runway, I seized the opportunity to ask Alba about the company and told her I wanted a job there. She agreed to connect me with the CEO and founder, a good friend of her husband’s.

A few days later I heard from the CEO and he asked when I could come to California to meet for an interview. We met this weekend. I don’t know what will come of it, but what I do know is that none of this would have been possible without the confidence I gained from TIA.

I can say with certainty that of all the things I’ve been a part of on campus, TIA has been the program that best represents what it was that drew me to Colgate in the first place. I came to Colgate because people here have a strong sense of community. At TIA, students, alumni, community members, and faculty and staff come together to make amazing things happen.

Congratulations to Ariel Sherry ’15 who was named Salutatorian for the Colgate class of 2015. Ariel was active in TIA for 2 years where she created her venture Age Together. She was chosen to pitch in last year’s eWeekend Shark Tank where she walked away with $5000 for her venture. Ariel was a double major in Psychology and Religion. In addition to TIA, Ariel was a team leader of Adopt-a-Grandparent, vice-president of finance for Delta Delta Delta sorority, member of the Konosioni Senior Honor Society, and Luminaria Chair for Colleges Against Cancer. Ariel graduated Summa Cum Laude, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and received numerous other honors and awards during her four years at Colgate. Congratulations and best of luck Ariel!  


TIA blog series: Echo App, eWeekend, and TIA by Adam Buys ’17

By Contributing Writer on May 11, 2015
Adam Buys '17 pitches Echo App during eWeekend

Adam Buys ’17 pitches Echo App during eWeekend

Almost a month later I still get excited thinking back to Colgate’s Entrepreneur Weekend. From the all star panel, which included the likes of Jessica Alba and Neil Blumenthal, to the demo day that gave students like myself a chance to pitch their businesses in front of hundreds of alumni, eWeekend was an incredible experience. This capstone event marked the end of what was another great year for Colgate’s Thought into Action Entrepreneurship Institute. Since being accepted into the TIA Student Incubator back in September, I have been fortunate enough to get my business off the ground and take part in many of the great opportunities that TIA provides.

My venture is called Echo. Echo is a mobile application that looks at a user’s location and then generates a list of events happening around the user on that day. Since its conception, we have developed the application on multiple platforms, created extensive marketing plans, and have been fortunate enough to secure $15,000 in seed funding from Colgate’s Entrepreneur Fund. I can confidently say however, that none of this would have been possible without TIA. While developing the technology of the app, we were mentored by alums that were founders or cofounders of tech startups themselves. While planning Echo’s business model, we spoke with dozens of TIA mentors who invest in and mentor early stage startups to learn about what often works and what doesn’t. I realized very early on in TIA that a fifteen-minute conversation with someone who has already been in my position can save weeks of time that would otherwise be lost trying to solve a problem that someone else has already encountered and solved.echo

The unique advantage of TIA compared to entrepreneurship programs at other schools is the level of commitment and success of the mentors who take the time each month to come back to campus and mentor student entrepreneurs. One of the first things I found while starting Echo was that I knew almost nothing about how to build a business. The mentors in TIA have helped bridge the knowledge gap by providing hands on advice for everything from filing legal documents to thinking strategically about how to get the app in front of as many people as possible. I would strongly encourage any Colgate student with an idea for a business or not-for-profit venture to apply to TIA. Don’t let a fear of not knowing the next steps hold you back.

Adam Buys ’17 is a sophomore at Colgate majoring in Mathematics with a minor in either Computer Science or Philosophy. In his free time, Adam is an active member of the Colgate Debate Society. He is currently the president of the team and has won several tournaments including the novice national championship. His business partner is Julian Mazza ’18, a student at the University of Arizona and a Tucson native, also Adam’s hometown.


3rd annual Entrepreneur Weekend a huge success

By Mary Galvez on April 25, 2014


From the superstar panel discussion and Shark Tank competition on Friday night to the student demos and pitches on Saturday, the Colgate campus was infused with the energy and enthusiasm of the entrepreneurial spirit during the third annual Entrepreneur Weekend.

Friday night began with David Faber of CNBC’s Squawk on the Street moderating a discussion among some of the biggest names in Silicone Valley – Daniel Rosensweig P’15’17, former COO of Yahoo and now CEO of Chegg,  Tony Bates, former Microsoft executive VP and Skype CEO, Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder, John Donahoe, eBay president and CEO, and Ashton Kutcher, actor and founder of A-Grade Investments. This was followed by three teams from the TIA Student Incubator pitching to the panel in a Shark Tank-type competition. Although the four students who pitched were beyond nervous, they all looked calm, cool, and collected in front of the rock-star panel. All three teams walked away with funding for their ventures.

Andy Greenfield '74

A reception followed immediately after with the launch of The Entrepreneur Professional Network. Katie Finnegan ’05, chair of the Entrepreneur Network, gave some brief remarks introducing the network and how it will serve current and future entrepreneurial alumni. Another highlight of the evening was the presentation of an award to Andy Greenfield ’74 in recognition of his founding Thought Into Action. It was Andy’s idea that planted the seed of entrepreneurship at Colgate that in five short years has grown into the mighty oak that is the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute. THANK YOU, Andy!


arielSaturday kicked off with a panel discussion in Golden Auditorium on Colgate Networks and You, hosted by Katie Finnegan, Leo Russell P’15, Chair, Society of Families, and Gus Coldabella ’91, Trustee.  During this time, TIA students were setting up their booths in the Clark Room in the Hall of Presidents where alumni, parents, family, friends, faculty, staff, and students started trickling in around 11 am.  Students engaged with the visitors to their booth until all were called into lunch in the main room. President Herbst welcomed the crowd of more than 300 and introduced Teri Egler ’77, P’07, P’11, President of the Alumni Council. She had the pleasure of awarding the first Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Julian Farrior ’93, founder of Backflip Studios.

President Herbst then announced the winners of the Colgate Entrepreneur Fund for 2014. They are: Vern Clothing, Sapling Advisory, HUGS (Hamilton United Gift Shop), Prettier Please, and Late Date. Each venture will receive seed capital, incubator space for the summer in Hamilton, and intellectual resources from within the Colgate community.

Colgate Entrepreneur Fund winners

Colgate Entrepreneur Fund winners

Saturday culminated in Shark Tank II, where eight more teams from the TIA Student Incubator pitched their ideas to the crowd. David Fialkow ’81, P’17, co-founder of General Catalyst Partners, acted as the moderator, judge, investor, and even chief solicitor for additional investment dollars from the audience. In typical Fialkow fashion, he made things up as he went along, and though we had no idea what he would do, by the time things were over, he himself had pledged over $20,000 to the students and got audience members to commit another $20,000.  Audience members asked questions just like a real investment meeting, and all the students walked away with not just dollars, but a ton of real world experience in pitching and thinking fast on their feet.


pitchIf you are interested in supporting the entrepreneurial opportunities and experiences facilitated by the Thought Into Action Institute, please click here to make your gift. Please note “Thought Into Action Fund”  in the other designation field and note if you have a preferred venture in mind for funding. All support will be administered according to the guidelines of the fund.

Finally, an event of this magnitude could never be possible without the support and hard work of numerous departments across campus. Many, many thanks go out to a number of people and departments who all worked to put this special weekend together. From the President’s Office, to Institutional Advancement, Communications, Information Technology, Sodhexo, Buildings and Grounds – a heartfelt THANK YOU! Special thanks go to Mari Assaid and Rhea Dexter from the Special Events Office for coordinating all the different entities. The TIA team and our students are grateful for everything this incredible weekend has made possible. Recruitment is underway for the TIA Student Incubator for next year, and we’re looking forward to another exciting and successful year with our student entrepreneurs.


Picture credits go to Andy Daddio, Photographic Services Coordinator.


Event details: Superstar panel and shark tank, April 11

By Jason Kammerdiener on April 8, 2014

Ashton KutcherWhen: Friday, April 11, 2014 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Where: Cotterell Court


Andy Kerr (football) parking lot and the Lacrosse parking lot near the hospital. Please do not park at the hospital. Handicap parking is available at Cotterell Court and the Huntington Gym with permits. See the Colgate University map.

This panel conversation on founding, funding, building, and scaling the most innovative companies in the world features some of the nation’s leading entrepreneurial experts, including:

  • Tony Bates, former CEO of Skype and executive vice president at Microsoft
  • Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb
  • Ashton Kutcher, actor, director, and A-Grade co-founder
  • Daniel Rosensweig P’15’17, CEO of Chegg

Moderated by David Faber, CNBC anchor/producer and host of Squawk on the Street.

Reservations required. Please bring your confirmation e-mail to enter.

Additional Information:

  • Doors will open at 5 p.m. There will be a bag check upon arrival
  • Please bring your confirmation e-mail to enter.
  • The use of electronics is permitted. Please refrain from flash photography or recording. Silence all electronic devices.
  • The program timeline will be 6 – 7:30 p.m. Please do not leave early unless it is an emergency.
  • For the safety of everyone, please do not attempt to approach the stage before or after the lecture. No autographs or photos with the panelists.

For more information contact the Office of Special Events for Institutional Advancement at cuspecialevents3@colgate.edu

Entrepreneur Weekend a Huge Success for Thought Into Action!

By Mary Galvez on April 18, 2013

The weekend kicked off on Friday night at Cotterell Court with a keynote address by Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook and author of the NY Times bestseller, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

Sheryl Sandberg at Colgate university

Sheryl Sandberg at Colgate University

On Saturday morning, over 25 students displayed 16 ventures they have been working on for the past year through Thought Into Action. These ventures included for-profit, not-for-profit, and campus and community enrichment initiatives.

At noon, five students pitched their ideas to the overflow crowd in the Clark room of the Hall of Presidents. This was followed by a special lunch where Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya told his moving story of how an immigrant from Turkey turned his idea for manufacturing yogurt in a depressed area of upstate New York into a multi-million dollar business. Sarah Stewart '04 at Colgate University

A new feature of Colgate’s annual Entrepreneur Weekend was a speaking series called Little Talks, Big Ideas which featured seven alumni and one current student who have launched successful ventures and provided words of advice from their success and failures as entrepreneurs. A networking reception followed in the Hall of Presidents for students, parents, alumni, staff, and faculty.

Many students reported that they made great connections with alumni and parents and some even walked away with promises of help and/or funding. A highlight of the weekend was during the Little Talks, Big Ideas in the Chapel when David Fialkow ’81 raised over $25,000 ($21,000 committed by him and Mike Ellenbogan ’86) from the audience after an impassioned presentation by Maggie Dunne ’13 on the non-profit corporation she founded, Lakota Children’s Enrichment, Inc. The buzz around the weekend was contagious and we look forward to continuing our work with the students this summer with the ENY Fund and next year through Thought Into Action.

Take a look at the April TIA newsletter for more information on the weekend and some fabulous pictures!