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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
CEO/Co-founder
jlasker@saplingadvisory.com

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.


2014 Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund Winners

By Mary Galvez on April 18, 2014

Congratulations to the five winners of the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund announced this past Saturday at Entrepreneurs Weekend. The fund was established in 2013 to grow and advance the ventures of Colgate student and alumni entrepreneurs who are solving problems and demonstrating an ability to execute. The winners are:

 

HugsHUGS (Hamilton United Gift Shop)
Connecting the Hamilton business community to the global Colgate community, one “hug” at a time.
Max Stein ’17

 

 

LateDateLate Date
The best place to find the perfect date for your next event!
Katie Rydell ’14 and Amara Wilson ’14

 

 

prettier pleasePrettier Please
Professional hair and makeup services delivered to you at home.
Olivia Cranin ’07 and Rachel McLaughlin

 

 

Sapling

Sapling Advisory
Like eHarmony* for financial advisors and prospective clients.
Josh Lasker ’14 and Daniel Swiecki ’14

 

 

VernVern Clothing
A socially responsible apparel brand that works with artisans in Guatemala to produce handmade fashion accessories.
Viktor Mak ’14 and Matthew Kordonowy ’14 (Washington and Lee University)

 

Each team was awarded a grant of $15,000 in start-up funds, incubator space for the summer in Hamilton, and intellectual resources from within the Colgate community.  The fund was created and initially funded by Dan Rosensweig P’15, ’17.

Read our archives.


Apply to Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund 2014 for a chance at $15K

By Contributing Writer on February 18, 2014

The TIA team is thrilled to return with the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund.

The fund was established to grow and advance the ventures of Colgate student and alumni entrepreneurs who are solving big problems and demonstrating an ability to execute. Last year six teams were selected from a highly competitive pool of over 40 student and alumni ventures. Three of the teams have gone on to raise additional capital and another team is currently in the process.

A grant of $15,000 will be given to each of the winning teams to help bring their ventures to commercial viability while incubating in Hamilton, New York. The number of awardees will be decided based on the quality of the venture and team, not based on a quota. The fund is open to for-profit and not-for-profit ventures with at least one Colgate member on the founding team.

Applications are now open and due by March 18, 2014…but don’t procrastinate. To learn more about Eligibility, Award Benefits, & Judging Criteria click HERE. APPLY TODAY!

Please share this message with ANY Colgate students and alumni that you know who are out there taking big risks and creating new ventures.

Read our archives.


Colgate’s Entrepreneurs of New York Fund winners continue to make news

By Contributing Writer on November 7, 2013

The Colgate news page recently featured an update on the ENY Fund winners on their website. It gave an update on the six businesses that spent six weeks in the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute at Colgate University this past summer. Link here to the full article.


TIA blog series: Yuni Sameshima on Recipe into Reality, TIA, and ENY

By Contributing Writer on September 12, 2013
Yuni Sameshima '13

Yuni Sameshima ’13

Life at Colgate has the tendency of making students feel as if they are in a bubble, isolated from the “real world”. Students identify themselves as being “students” and nothing more. Have fun, make friends and get good grades are some of the things at the top of their priorities list.

My good friend, Joey Petracca, and I were same way until our senior year. During the summer of 2012 we came up with the idea for starting a technology company called Recipe into Reality. We decided that we were tired of just reading textbooks, writing essays, and taking exams; we were ready to create a change in the real world.

Enter Colgate’s new entrepreneurship initiatives.

The Thought into Action Institute (or TIA for short) connects student entrepreneurs with successful alumni from all different backgrounds. Mentors range from artists to investment bankers to seasoned entrepreneurs, and the best part is that they are all passionate about helping students grow and succeed.

We walked into our first TIA session in the fall of 2012 and our lives have never been the same.

Over the next 12 months, we have accomplished more than I could have ever thought was capable for mere “students”. We raised our first round of financing, were finalists at the New York State Business Plan Competition, talked with executives at dozens of major grocery chains and publishing companies, and were awarded the Entrepreneurs of New York (ENY) Fund from Colgate.

The ENY Fund was an incubator program that provided 6 teams, including us, free office space in Hamilton, a $15,000 cash grant, access to alumni mentors and the chance to pitch at General Catalyst, one of the leading VC firms in the country.

It was an incredible program. The 6 teams were always present in the office space from 9am-12 midnight and we had roundtable discussions every week to help one another solve problems. And to top it all off, we all pitched our companies to associates at a top VC firm.

By far the most helpful aspect of these programs has been the network of mentors. As young entrepreneurs, we lack the business experience, critical in creating a successful company. To compensate, we have surrounded ourselves with over a dozen Colgate mentors that we are constantly in touch with that not only help grow our business, but help us to grow as entrepreneurs and as people.

Yuni Sameshima ’13 started Recipe into Reality with fellow Colgate alum Joey Petracca ’13 during their senior year at Colgate. Yuni and Joey participated in Thought Into Action where they brought their venture to fruition and in the spring applied for and were awarded an Entrepreneurs of New York (ENY) Fund grant to continue work on their startup. Yuni serves as the CEO while Joey is the COO. Through the ENY funding, they were able to hire Michael Francis, CTO, to further develop the technology of their website. The three continue to work out of the ENY/TIA incubator in the village of Hamilton.


Entrepreneurs of New York Fund Award Winners – 2013

By Mary Galvez on April 6, 2013

The Entrepreneurs of New York (ENY) Fund was established to grow and advance the ventures of Colgate student and alumni entrepreneurs who are solving big problems and demonstrating an ability to execute. For the inaugural year there were 36 final applications – 24 from alumni and 12 from students, 10 of which were Thought Into Action students. Nine extremely successful alumni and/or parent entrepreneurs acted as judges and narrowed the applications down to a “top 10″ list, from which six final ventures were selected. The winners – four alumni and two student ventures – were announced during Entrepreneurs Weekend on April 6. Each team was awarded a grant of $15,000 in start-up funds and committed to working in Hamilton for six weeks from May 20 through June 28 on their businesses. The winners are:

GateSwapGateSwap
A safe, social, and sustainable way to exchange goods and services on college campuses.
Rob Carroll ’15 and Gabe Zetter ’15. Still full-time Colgate students, Zetter and Carroll attend the TIA program where alumni mentors are helping to shape Gateswap’s future.

 

Good_Nature03759fGood Nature Brewing
Handcrafted, all natural ales brewed with local ingredients.
Carrie Blackmore ’08 and her husband Matt Whalen opened a new storefront in the village of Hamilton.

 

protoexchangeProtoExchange
Proto Exchange aims to connect 3-D modelers and owners of 3-D printers to people who need finished 3-D products.
James Placa ’07 and his brother Jonathan think 3-D printing has arrived.

 

RealAbroadff999a

Real Abroad
The world’s first student-only travel website.
Jack Henley ’12, a graduate of the TIA program.

 

 

RIR

Recipe Into Reality
From recipe discovery to ingredient delivery, RIR connects the popular content of recipe websites and blogs with the online grocery.
Yuni Sameshima ’13 and Joey Petracca ’13 stayed in Hamilton after graduation to launch Recipe Into Reality.

 

Shindig

Shindig
A fun, free way to discover new beers, wines and spirits.
Harry Raymond ’11. ENY has helped propel his iPhone app, Shindig-Drink Explorers Club, onto a list of top 300 food and drink apps on the iTunes store.

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