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.
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!
Saturday 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
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.
If 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.
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