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Lauren Sanderson ’18 wins 1819 Award

By Dan DeVries on May 10, 2018

Lauren Sanderson ’18 accepts the 1819 Award from President Brian W. Casey. Photo by Mark DiOrio.

Lauren Sanderson ’18 is an entrepreneur, student-athlete, academic all-star, and a soon-to-be published poet who now adds Colgate University’s most prestigious student recognition, the 1819 Award, to her impressive résumé of accomplishments.

The 1819 Award is given annually to one graduating student whose character, scholarship, sportsmanship, and service to others best exemplify the university’s spirit and the value of a liberal arts education.

“Lauren has distinguished herself as a gifted poet who has won a national contest to have her first book of poems published,” wrote nominator Peter Balakian, professor of English and winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. “Lauren was also the captain of the women’s volleyball team and an athlete of high distinction in her four years here. She remains an unusual student and one with real leadership qualities and contributes greatly to the intellectual life of the student body.”

Hailing from London, Ontario, Sanderson is an English major with an emphasis on creative writing. She was the 2017 winner of the Lasher Prize for outstanding talent and has received the Dean’s Award every semester of her Colgate career. On the volleyball court, she was ranked first in setting by the Patriot League and 13th nationally for assists.

While attending department-sponsored workshops, Sanderson organized her own writing roundtables, encouraging and teaching friends and classmates to express themselves through writing. She is a member of the board of organizers for Lounge, an organization that hosts open-mic nights off campus. A peer tutor on campus, Sanderson also volunteers her time in Sherburne, N.Y. to mentor middle school students.

Outside of the classroom and off the court, Sanderson is an active member of the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Incubator, where she and Brandon Doby ’18 earned $1,000 in funding during Entrepreneur Weekend for their film-production company, ISO, and was named one of this year’s $13,000 Entrepreneur Fund recipients.

“Every person has a tale to tell, but a rare few hone their storytelling skills across multiple media, across multiple topics; some difficult, others beautiful.” said President Brian W. Casey during the university’s Awards Convocation on May 4. “Our 1819 Award winner has spent the last four years at Colgate working with words, sharing them rather than holding them close. Through her art, she focuses on issues of gender inequality and violence. She has acted on the belief that, if we put our joy and pain on paper, readers will recognize commonalities in the human experience, celebrate differences, and overcome divisiveness.”

Sanderson’s poetry manuscript is slated to be published by Write Bloody Press in March 2019, and she will be embarking on a 20-stop promotional tour after graduation. She plans to apply to graduate school to earn an MFA in creative writing.

 

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2018 Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund Winners

By Mary Galvez on May 1, 2018

2018 eFund winners, left to right: Luke Goodwin, Sheila Dunne ’20, Dean Koman ’17, Chase Jackson ’13, Lauren Sanderson ’18, Brandon Doby ’18 and Wills Hapworth ’07, Executive Director of TIA

 

Welcome to the sixth year of Colgate’s Entrepreneurs Fund! The 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 fund was established in 2013, and maintained with lead gifts from Dan and Linda Rosensweig P’15, ’17, Noah Wintroub ’98 and Carey Jennings, and Michael ’86 and Julie Ellenbogen.

Congratulations to the five teams chosen as this years winners of the fund:

 

Deco SlidesDeco Slides is an online retailer and manufacturer of unique slide sandals with swappable straps. Chase Jackson ’13, Sam Jackson

 

Dunne Marketing provides social media management and social media marketing solutions for businesses to increase brand awareness and drive sales, saving both time and money. Sheila Dunne ’20, Luke Goodwin

 

ISO Film is a creative content house that specializes in full service film and video production. ISO walks the line between art and commerce by bringing a high level of artistry to business projects, which distinguishes our product and makes our customers stand out in the corporate world. Brandon Doby ’18, Lauren Sanderson ’18

 

Profillic is an AI-powered knowledge discovery platform for data science R&D that connects scientists with research, industry developments, peer reviews, projects, and more relevant to their work and interests. Gaurav Ragtah ’13, Himanshu Ragtah

 

 

YourYard provides on-demand access to fun lawn and beach games like spike, kadima, and wiffle ball, through a network of phone-activated lockers.  Dean Koman ’17, Nathan WeinrauchZach Flyer

 

Read more about the past five years of the Entrepreneurs Fund in action and the impressive impact it has had since its inception.

 

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The art of entrepreneurship: A day in the life of Brandon Doby ’18 and Lauren Sanderson ’18

By Emily Daniel '18 on April 30, 2018

Photo by Andrew Daddio

For Brandon Doby ’18 and Lauren Sanderson ’18, entrepreneurship exists at the intersection of business acumen and creative risk. These two seniors are both artists and business owners: They created ISO Film, a production company, as a Thought Into Action (TIA) venture in 2016, and have been making experimental films together ever since.

“To sustain yourself as an artist and to give yourself the opportunities to create exactly what you want to create, you need to master the business side, too,” said Doby, a studio arts major from Chicago.

Doby and Sanderson’s business venture took center stage during Colgate’s annual Entrepreneur Weekend April 7. The day was packed with pitching and networking, and it contained a few surprises for the pair.

Brandon Doby ’18 gives Jeff Sharp ’89 (left) a tour of Case-Geyer Library’s studio space

10:00 a.m.

While other student entrepreneurs arrived at the Hall of Presidents to set up their TIA booths, Sanderson and Doby had an impromptu breakfast meeting with Jeffrey Sharp ’89. A panelist during the event’s Shark Tank­­–style pitch competition, Sharp is a successful filmmaker who is known for Boys Don’t Cry and Proof.

The pair gave Sharp a tour of the state-of-the-art audio and video studios they use on the first floor of Case-Geyer Library. Before the studios were built, aspiring musicians and filmmakers like Sharp had to get creative with what Colgate had to offer.

“When we wanted to record music or sound for our movies, we would use the rehearsal spaces in Dana [Arts Center], or in the Chapel basement,” remembered Sharp. “When I think about why Colgate is such a great place for the arts, it’s because there are little spaces like that, available to anyone who’s looking for them.”

11:30 a.m.

Doby and Sanderson put the finishing touches on their ISO Film booth. The pair had clips of their previous projects — including music videos and experimental shorts — rolling on a TV screen and copies of screenplays on the table for visitors to look through.

ISO Film has two branches: ISO Works and ISO Labs. Through ISO Works, Sanderson and Doby take on commissioned projects like event coverage and music videos. Those paid projects help fund ISO Labs, which is the more experimental side of the business; through ISO Labs, the pair have directed several short films and recently finished a documentary.

1:30 p.m.

For this partnership, the main event was the Shark Tank-style competition. Doby and Sanderson gave a concise and compelling pitch to the panel of four “sharks” under a strict time limit — an ominous gong sound-effect rang through the Hall of Presidents when were up.

2:00 p.m.

The panel of “sharks” deliberated and awarded $1,000 to ISO. Sharp, however, had his own gift to give the ISO team: The filmmaker announced he would commission ISO to work on a small project for his production company.

Doby and Sanderson also won a $13,000 grant through the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund. The program awards student-entrepreneurs with a seed grant, incubator space for the summer in Hamilton, and mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs.

“We’re going to take this full speed ahead,” said Sanderson, an English major. “We’re putting everything we have into the film production company, and hopefully the freelance projects coming in will be enough to sustain us, on top of our funding for our next project.”

Added Doby: “Where we’re at is kind of art commerce. And when we approach commerce, it still has our artistic imprint on it. It still has the poetry in it.”

Doby and Sanderson plan to move to Los Angeles together to grow their company, which has recently been incorporated in California. Also, Sanderson has another creative outlet — her book of poems, published through Write Bloody Publishing, comes out next March, which will be followed by a 20-stop book tour.

“I love that feeling of no net. No matter how big the checks get, there’s a no net sense of individual entrepreneurship that I think drives a lot of great art, because there’s a sense of survival in it,” Doby said.

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Alumni Column: On the Benefits of TIA

By Tim O'Neill '78 on March 7, 2018

If you walk from the center of Hamilton towards the Jug, you might notice a conspicuously laid out space at 20 Utica Street. An open design, akin to a WeWork space, presents itself. It is the home of the Colgate University Thought Into Action Incubator.

Many readers of this article may not be familiar with the Thought Into Action Incubator (TIA) at Colgate. It was the brainchild of Andy Greenfield ’74. Himself a successful entrepreneur, Greenfield approached then Colgate president Rebecca Chopp in 2009 with the notion that he could work with students who might have an idea (the “thought”) that they would like to turn into reality (the “action”).

TIA was born. Eight students worked with Greenfield that year. The following year, Greenfield was joined by Bob Gold ’80 and Wills Hapworth ’07, and TIA started to take a significantly larger form. I was lucky to join them in 2011, and am now part of a legion of 147 mentors who collectively have worked with students for over 22,000 hours.

So, what does TIA actually do? Again, the incubator serves to work with student entrepreneurs who have an idea that they would like to turn into reality. The entrepreneurs, upon acceptance into the program, commit to working relentlessly on giving life to their ideas. To quote the TIA website, “participating requires hard work, passion and perseverance as entrepreneurs refine their ideas, learn the art of the pitch, solve problems, deal with failure, build teams and attract investors and assets for growth.” What makes TIA unique is that it takes potency from parent and alumni entrepreneurs who volunteer to come up to campus once a month to spend a Saturday coaching student entrepreneurs. The mentors have deep experience in building companies, running non-profit organizations and draw from their experience in guiding the students.

For the entrepreneurs, it requires a sizable commitment of time. Entrepreneurs are cautioned that the time commitment might feel like a fifth course. We are clear that the academic load at Colgate takes absolute priority, which means TIA will require that an entrepreneur will have less free time. Most of the entrepreneurs would anecdotally add that the time is well spent.

The footprint of TIA has quietly grown large. Over its nine year life, 490 entrepreneurs representing 320 ventures have taken advantage of TIA. Those ventures can take the form of a for-profit business, a Colgate campus enrichment program or a non-profit enterprise. In addition, many of TIA’s entrepreneurs have made good use of the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund, which gives grants to student and alumni ventures to come to Hamilton for a summer, use the incubator space on Utica Street and take advantage of the advice and counsel of 40+ mentors. To date, 27 teams have benefited from the “eFund”, and the results are impressive. By our count, those ventures have created over 100 jobs. 17 ventures are still up and running. The ventures have benefited from $375,000 of seed grant capital, and have raised close to $12,000,000 in follow-on capital!

When I describe TIA to friends and alumni, one of the immediate reactions is for them to thank me for donating my time. While I appreciate the sentiment, I take issue with any notion that my mentoring is a charitable activity. I am taking at least as much away from TIA as I am giving. The relationships with students and alumni of every age cohort are invaluable, and the excitement of watching entrepreneurs hatch their ideas gives all of us at TIA an incredible sense of fulfillment.

So, if you pass by 20 Utica Street, take a good look at the facility. If you have an idea, and want to do something about it, check out TIA on the Colgate website. Then, don’t hesitate to take action, apply and hopefully we will see you come September.

(The above article appeared in the February 18 issue of the Colgate Maroon News and is reprinted with permission.)

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Halligan Works to Improve the Lives of First Responders

By Adam Pratt '18 on January 24, 2018

While a student at Colgate, Alex Montgomery ‘11 worked as a volunteer firefighter with the Hamilton FD and during the summers worked as a Wildland Firefighter in Tucson, AZ. In both capacities, Alex became very familiar with the typical daily tasks of a firefighter. One particularly painstaking process involved checking all of the apparatus and equipment using pen and paper for reporting. The process was old-fashioned and time-consuming and given how annoying it was, inevitably resulting in either: not happening in the first place, getting oil on the report, forgetting to submit the report to an administrator on duty . . . or some other variation of things falling through the cracks – putting the safety of the firefighters at risk.

After Colgate, Alex began a career as a software engineer developing enterprise and SaaS software. Leveraging the skills and knowledge he developed in these roles, he wanted to revisit that nagging problem of the firefighter’s ‘truck check’ and see if he could develop a software solution for the ‘first response’ industry. He began talking to a few fire departments, and to his surprise, the problem of outdated reporting systems still existed, and actually went much deeper. It didn’t just affect the firefighters themselves, but also affected the administrative systems as a whole. At a base level, department administrators lacked easy access to actionable data about the status of their fleet and equipment.

Determined to finally do something about the problem, Alex recruited two trusted Colgate partners, Alex Krill ‘11 and Adam Pratt ‘18, and the Halligan team was born. They immediately got to work on rolling out the initial product while going through the TIA incubator. Then, using resources from the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund grant, they launched the initial product in beta in Q3 of 2016.

During this time, the Halligan team constantly iterated on their go-to-market strategy and gained incredible insight from TIA mentors on how to find product-market fit. In January of 2017, Halligan made its first sale and hasn’t looked back. With nearly 170 paying departments, large strategic partners in the space, and a best in class software solution, what started as an annoyance about the ‘truck check’ process has turned into the dominant fleet and equipment management platform for first responders.

With the continued support of TIA, Halligan continues to improve the lives of first responders around the country by making their work easier, safer and more effective.

2017 Highlights
• 165 paying customers
• $160,000 booked of Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)
• Strategic partnership with Emergency Reporting
• Negotiating with purchasing department for first large Metro customer

2018 Plan
• Deepen Emergency Reporting Partnership
• Investment in product to continue to push into EMS space
• Explore product fit for police departments
• Explore strategic partnership with another big player in the space
• Grow bookings to $550k ARR
• Raise a round of capital to capitalize on this opportunity and aggressively grow the business.

Thank you to everyone that’s supported, advised, critiqued, connected and more…we wouldn’t be where we are without you!!

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Trial in Shark Tank spurs alumnus to forge ahead

By Dan DeVries on October 2, 2017

Students gather to watch Ryan Diew ’17 on Shark Tank, October 1. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Much has happened since Ryan Diew ’17 stepped in front of cameras in early June to pitch his travel app, Trippie, on ABC’s Shark Tank.

Investors on the season nine premiere that aired October 1 pulled no punches in their criticism of the app, but Diew says he took their advice to heart, and he has been hard at work making Trippie the best airport navigation tool available on the Apple Store.

“I really have taken heed of a lot of their advice,” said Diew. “I think that I let my emotions get the best of me toward the end. I am really passionate about this, and I broke down, and that’s something I’ve learned from. I’ll never do that again.”

Trippie has expanded from four to 16 airports since the Shark Tank episode was filmed in June, and it now covers locations that account for 82 percent of all U.S. domestic air travel.

Ryan Diew ’17 (Photo by Mark DiOrio)

Despite being chewed to pieces by the “sharks,” Diew said that in the hours after the episode aired, Trippie was downloaded nearly 12,000 times before the web server he rented to keep up with demand crashed from the traffic. Even with technical problems, Trippie ranked 21st in travel on the App store on Monday, Oct. 2, and Diew expects his Android version to launch later this week.

“This was the chance of a lifetime, and I don’t regret any of it. The progress that we’ve made since my pitch has been amazing,” Diew said. “We’ve expanded and added functionality, making the app better. I’ll just continue to keep pushing.”

Colgate Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Career Initiatives Michael Sciola said he admired Diew’s willingness to put himself in front of an audience of millions in pursuit of his entrepreneurial dream.

“At Colgate, we teach our students that it is impossible to win a game if you are afraid to take a shot,” Sciola said. “I admire that Ryan took the chance to move his business forward and know that he will use this as a learning experience. I cannot wait to see what happens next!”

Thought Into Action Alumni Executive Director Wills Hapworth ’07 said he’s been impressed with Diew’s grit and resilience. “His response to Shark Tank and Mark Cuban’s tough questions was to double down on product development and growth so he would be prepared for the bump he expected after the episode’s airing. He was laser focused over the past few months. That is the heart of a true entrepreneur. I know these are traits that have served him well in the classroom and on the basketball court, and now hopefully in business as well. It will be one of the marks of his life going forward. We are proud of Ryan.”

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Alumnus Ryan Diew ’17 dives into Shark Tank

By Dan DeVries on September 25, 2017

Ryan Diew ’17

A fledgling idea, born during an airport layover and cultivated with the help of Colgate’s Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Incubator, has landed a recent alumnus on the two-hour season premiere of ABC’s Shark Tank, this Sunday, October 1, at 8 p.m.

While a press embargo restricts what exactly happened when Ryan Diew ’17 plunged into the tank to ask for funding from America’s most beloved — and sometimes reviled — venture capitalists, he promises the appearance is one to remember.

“I think they liked the idea, they liked my hustle, and they liked my grit,” said Diew, who graduated with a degree in computer science and played Division I basketball while at Colgate. Diew said he expects to appear during the show’s second hour.

Diew came up with his business, a phone app called Trippie, when he was a sophomore traveling from Colgate to his home in Oakland, Calif. During a long layover, he wanted to grab some food, but he also didn’t want to lug all of his carry-on baggage through the airport. So, he let a stranger watch his bags. He also didn’t want his quest for food to result in a missed flight.

Ryan Diew on the court

He thought there had to be a better way. So, he invented one.

“Trippie is essentially an airport mapping service that allows travelers to explore a detailed interactive map of the airport to immediately get the lay of the land,” Diew explained. “It displays menus, reviews, hours, and even calculates how long it takes to get to your favorite food spot or restaurant so you don’t miss your flight.”

Trippie wasn’t always about helping travelers quickly locate food or stores in airports. When he first brought his idea to the TIA incubator, Diew was hoping to develop an airport food delivery app.

“If I really wanted this idea to be a thing, TIA was the place to go,” said Diew, but the experienced alumni entrepreneurs in the group quickly poked holes in his plan. “They pushed back immediately. When you’re in college and you have no experience, how are you going to hire the employees in the airport? How are you going to do this, do that? There’s was so much red tape, but I didn’t want to give up.”

Diew taught himself how to code Swift, one of the most popular app development languages, and he has worked to refine the product ever since. He also worked with former Colgate student Samantha Braver, and the two pitched Trippie at the 2016 TIA Entrepreneur Weekend, where they took away more than $22,000 in funding. Braver later left Trippie for a job at Apple.

In 2017, Trippie was selected as a TIA Entrepreneurs Fund recipient, which gave Diew $15,000 toward his venture and workspace in the downtown Hamilton incubator to work full time on his product. He was contacted for the Shark Tank opportunity after his business appeared in an Inc.com Coolest College Startup competition.

“Above all else, Ryan is insanely passionate about Trippie, and all of his mentors have seen this and admire this about him. In his view, the world will cease to exist without the app, and that’s exactly the mentality that every entrepreneur needs to have,” said TIA Alumni Executive Director Wills Hapworth ’07. “As we say in TIA, passion is the fuel for action, and that’s exactly what has kept Ryan coming back to the challenge of Trippie, despite setbacks and pivots. We are very confident he will figure out how to thread the needle and make Trippie a huge success that helps millions of people!”

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Entrepreneurs Fund in Action

By Wills Hapworth on July 31, 2017

eFund 2017 (l-r) Rob Carroll ’15, Pat Crowe ’18, Grace O’Shea ’11, Matthew Glick ’19, Jack Zamore ’20, Cody Semrau ’14, Nick Freud ’15, Mary Galvez & Wills Hapworth

Hello Colgate Entrepreneurship Community!

We are excited to share that we just wrapped up another high-energy summer of the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund (eFund); we are also sad to see the teams go! Here are the ventures that made up the 5th eFund cohort and with whom we had the fortune of working over the last six weeks.

The teams worked 24/7 on their ventures at the TIA Incubator in Hamilton and during that time we witnessed numerous accomplishments, including: celebrating their first sales; making hard and critical decisions about their product based on customer feedback; aggressively hunting down leads from the Colgate/TIA network; making their first hires; learning the do’s and don’ts of effective selling; sharing best practices on business operations with one and other; and more. Here is a bit more on what transpired while the teams were in Hamilton:


5th Year of the Entrepreneurs Fund by the Numbers

  • 5 new teams participated this summer from June 5th – July 14th
  • $65K in grants awarded to the ventures, many putting these funds to work on digital marketing, product development, hiring, legal and more
  • 40+ mentors engaged more than 100 times
  • Mentors (alums, parents, faculty, staff and community members) collectively gave over 450 hours of their time mentoring both in person and remotely

We heard first-hand how much the teams benefitted from the Colgate community and the hours of mentoring they received, and how immensely grateful they are for the experience. The teams now continue on in their journeys to build profitable and high growth businesses, buoyed by TIA and the larger Colgate entrepreneurship community, which we repeatedly say is a membership for life. We are extremely proud of all that they accomplished this summer, and thrilled to see them join the eFund legacy, which has had an impressive impact since its inception. Here is a little more on what the eFund has accomplished over the past 5 years:


Entrepreneurs Fund Inception to Date

  • 27 teams awarded a seed grant to date
  • ~7 highly qualified Colgate alumni/parent entrepreneurs have screened the applications every year
  • $375K of seed capital deployed through generous gifts from alums and parents, with funds supporting product development, digital marketing, key hires, legal, and other growth functions
  • $11.9MM+ of investment capital subsequently raised by eFund teams
  • 17 ventures still currently operating; batting well over .500 which is great for startup odds
  • ~100 full-time jobs created and still filled by eFund ventures, and many more part-time positions created
  • 2,200+ hours of time donated by mentors, on average about 40+ mentors engaging more than 100 times every summer

Thank you to all the mentors that accelerated these ventures, to Colgate for fostering such a collaborative environment, to the entrepreneurs for their tireless work and making us all look good, and to the TIA team that keeps things running smoothly. Let’s keep the energy high and continue turning thoughts into action!

 

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Taking the leap to full-time entrepreneur by Cody Semrau

By Contributing Writer on July 27, 2017

Cody Semrau ’14

When I graduated from Colgate back in 2014, I thought that I was leaving the hills of Hamilton far behind me. But after spending a few years working a corporate job in D.C., I found myself feeling unfulfilled. I wanted to do something – to create something – that I was really passionate about. What started as a part time hobby has now become the center of my world, and led me back to a familiar place.

Thanks to Colgate’s TIA Entrepreneurs Fund, I was able to make the jump into entrepreneurship full-time. After quitting my day job in May, I moved to Hamilton and have spent the summer working on my venture, BetterMynd, alongside four other teams of energetic and determined Colgate entrepreneurs.

BetterMynd is an online mental health and teletherapy platform designed exclusively for college and university campuses. We bring together a wide network of licensed mental health therapists and counselors and allow students to search from and have teletherapy sessions with their counselor of choice—all from the comfort and privacy of their laptops or smartphones.

When I was a senior at Colgate, I began experiencing my own mental health issues, and I was fortunate enough to get help from Colgate’s on-campus resources. However, the experience was an uncomfortable one. I had to carefully sneak into that building everyone knew as the Counseling Center. Then I had to sit in the lobby across from other classmates that were experiencing their own mental health issues. It was an awkward experience, but one I was willing to go through in order to get the help I needed. But many college students are not, and it is the reason why over half of students with mental health issues don’t get any help at all.

At the same time, colleges across the country are experiencing a significant spike in the number of students seeking mental health counseling, with the latest studies showing a 50% year-over-year increase in demand. Although this is a great sign that more students are seeking help, it’s not so great if colleges don’t have the resources to keep pace. One out of three colleges has a waiting list for students seeking counseling and most schools cap the number of sessions a student can have at six. Still, it often takes up to two weeks for a student to get an appointment.

By bringing more counseling resources to college students, and making these resources more accessible through our online platform, BetterMynd is empowering struggling college students to get the help that they need.

As part of the Entrepreneurs Fund, BetterMynd has had the added benefit of working closely with Colgate’s Counseling Center staff and other administrators. We will launch our first pilot program with Colgate this fall semester, with the hopes of expanding to other campuses later this year.

The Entrepreneurs Fund has allowed me to take BetterMynd to the next level. The program has not only allowed me to dive into entrepreneurship full time, but it has also given me the opportunity to tap into the expertise of dozens of Colgate alums on everything from marketing and branding to finance and law. As a young entrepreneur navigating the complex and challenging startup world, this mentorship has been invaluable. Although there are too many mentors to list here, I am sincerely grateful for all of your time and advice.

Lastly, I would like to give a special thanks to Wills Hapworth and Mary Galvez for all of your hard work and support in making this summer and The Entrepreneurs Fund such an incredible experience.

Cody Semrau
Founder & CEO, BetterMynd

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2017 Entrepreneurs Fund winners at work in TIA Incubator

By Erin Burnett '19 on July 18, 2017

Founder Grace O’Shea ’11 (second from right) and her colleagues from room2learn, a company that provides custom-design solutions for school communities. She developed the idea for the company when she was working as an 8th grade science teacher and realized the need for more flexible classroom space.

 

If Grace O’Shea ’11 could describe her perfect work environment, there’s a good chance it would look something like Colgate’s Thought Into Action Incubator located in the heart of downtown Hamilton. After all, its spacious layout, flexible seating options, and co-working environment are exactly what her spatial design company, room2learn, creates for its clients.

Luckily enough, O’Shea spent the beginning of her summer in the incubator working to grow her company as one of the 2017 Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund winners. She belongs to one of five teams that each received a $12,000 grant, mentoring, and use of the incubator space for the summer.

The other winners included Patrick Crowe ’18, founder of Loophole; Rob Carroll ’15 and Nick Freud ’15, co-founders of CampusReel; Matthew Glick ’19 and Jack Zamore ’20, co-founders of Gipper; and Cody Semrau ’14, founder of BetterMynd. The fund was established in 2013 with a lead gift from Dan and Linda Rosensweig P’15, ’17 to support the business ventures of action-oriented start-ups that have at least one Colgate member on their founding team.

Although O’Shea and her team are still determining how they will allocate their funding, she says that the intellectual guidance they’ve received is priceless.

“Colgate has an alumni network like no other,” O’Shea said. “All the human capital that Colgate has to offer and the way that people lend their ears and advice to the TIA community — I think that’s pretty amazing.”

Successful entrepreneurism draws heavily on ways of thinking that are integral to a liberal arts education, explained Meg Blume-Kohout, visiting assistant professor of economics and TIA faculty mentor. “The TIA student-entrepreneurs throw their hearts, time, and effort into creating something new, and for many of them, their venture is an expression of their own identity and social consciousness.”

As for O’Shea’s secret to success? “Figure out if you have something valuable to offer,” she advised hopeful entrepreneurs. “Talk to people about it. Put a prototype in the hands of someone else. Don’t be afraid to take the first steps toward putting your thought into action.”

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