Annual Report 2017-2018
Applying liberal arts to entrepreneurship, developing leaders who take action and impact the world.
Thought Into Action, Entrepreneurship at Colgate (TIA) supports, promotes, and advances entrepreneurial activity across the Colgate community.
TIA is best known for the program that Andy Greenfield ‘74 started nine years ago, which we now call the TIA Student Incubator. In addition to the incubator, we have grown TIA to include the following components (listed in order of increasing level of commitment by student entrepreneurs):
- Resource Library – A collection of general research and materials valuable to any TIA or alumni entrepreneur, or member of the Colgate community.
- Entrepreneur Weekend – A celebration of all things entrepreneurial at Colgate that includes speakers, student pitches, demo day, networking opportunities and panels.
- Entrepreneur Professional Network (EPN) – A network of alumni entrepreneurs that leverage Colgate’s entrepreneurial spirit across the entire Colgate community, and across the US. EPN includes events and workshops; introducing students and alumni to fellow Colgate community members working throughout the field.
- Summit Series – A yearlong series of of campus-based workshops and speakers covering broadly relevant entrepreneurial topics, open to all students and the broader Colgate community.
- Student Incubator – The signature year-long incubator for launching Colgate ventures of all shapes and sizes (for-profit/social entrepreneurship/campus enrichment) powered by a network of alumni, parent, and community mentors involved in all aspects of entrepreneurship.
- Entrepreneurs Fund – A summer incubator for advanced ventures, providing seed funding, incubator space, and mentorship. The fund is open to students and recent alumni from the Colgate community.
TIA concluded its 9th year of the Student Incubator this April. This year so many great stories emerged from the Incubator that exemplified all aspects of the entrepreneurial journey: resiliency, adversity, success, iterating, learning, collaboration and more. Below are some highlights:
Highlights from selected 2018 TIA Ventures
- ISO is a creative content agency that develops cinematic-quality content for both clients and their own productions. The team has participated in both the 100 Level and 200 Level. They finished this year as one of our most progressive ventures. They have a long list of impressive clients that they’ve worked with, and their average client engagement is in the neighborhood of $5,000. They will be participating in the Entrepreneurs Fund this summer and then going full-time on their venture in the fall when they move to LA. Equally exciting, they were invited to make a film this summer with Colgate alum (and Academy Award-winning producer) Jeff Sharp ‘89. ISO is a great example of the variety of ventures that TIA helps nurture and grow. (Brandon Doby ‘18 & Lauren Sanderson ‘18)
- Lisa Heller Music is the story of a very talented singer songwriter, who after three years in TIA, is graduating and pursuing her career full-time. Through the Incubator she learned to build a business around her talent and networked to numerous key players in the music industry through the TIA and broader Colgate network. Lisa has performed in front of 5,000 person audiences, is recording her next album, and putting together a tour to debut her latest work. She is another great example of how TIA and our mentors help grow ventures of all shapes and sizes. (Lisa Heller ‘18)
- Gipper is a service for high school and college athletic departments to help their programs stand out on social media with engaging video content. TIA is very happy to have the Gipper team back for their third year; they have already participated in the 100 level, the Entrepreneurs Fund, and the 200 level this year. They are on track this summer to be generating over $30K in annual recurring revenue, and are just scratching the surface of their sales pipeline. They’ve built a highly complimentary team of software engineers, content and video experts, marketers and more. Most impressive has been their openness to learning and willingness to pivot away from things that haven’t worked, even after sinking lots of time, resources and capital into those strategies. The result is that they currently have a client base of top tier high schools and colleges who love their product and are renewing their contracts. They are working full-time this summer on the venture. (Matt Glick ‘19, Jack Zamore ‘20, Ruchit Shrestha ‘20, Abby Waxler ‘19 & Daniel Gathogo ‘20)
- NaSo is a clothing company that marries West African and American culture with beautiful prints and accents. The founder Uyi Omorogbe hit his stride this spring when one of our mentors pushed him to figure out how to start ‘hacking’ the product and actually going from thought to action by integrating his prints into existing garments. The bell went off in his head that he didn’t need to set up an entire manufacturing facility or develop a full line of clothes, but instead he could realize his vision immediately while on campus with existing wardrobes and a sewing machine and some trial and error. The results were really compelling – he styled a number of initial prototype garments, with which he did some market research to determine what the final product should look like. At the same time he created a website supported by beautiful video content that he created in collaboration with TIA venture ISO. This summer he is spending time in Nigeria collecting fabrics, developing partnerships and getting inspired to come back to TIA in the fall and join the 200 level. (Uyi Omorogbe ‘19 & Olajide Awelewa ‘18)
- Campus Coat Check provides coat checking as a service for events, bars and restaurants. This year in the 200 level they really hit their stride, and developed a successful business. The team built software from scratch to power their operations and create a seamless and intuitive experience for users. They pivoted away from their direct to student service for bars downtown, and focused on a B2B strategy, finding a very receptive client in Colgate Special Events. They successfully ran the coat check for a number of Colgate events this year, generating revenues in the range of $500-1,000 per event. In addition they helped power a number of Greek organization events. We’re confident they will develop a repeatable sales process and begin franchising to other campuses by next year. They are also exploring additional services, such as car valet. Most impressive is that they have run this as a proper business since day one, with all the necessary insurance and liability, as well as with thoughtful employee training, all the while constantly listening to the needs of their customers and reiterating as needed. (Ben Sharf ‘20, Chase Headrick ‘19, Brandon Gardner ‘19, Katie Bray McGhee ‘20, & Eli Byers)
- Dunne Marketing is a social media-marketing agency. The team is laser-focused on building a business that they can run full-time after graduation, and there isn’t a mentor in TIA that believes this won’t happen. The team has been incredibly successful in securing yearlong contracts with clients who are paying ~$1,000 / month. At any one time they are engaged with 8-10 clients, across industries including automotive, education, food and beverage, consumer technology, and more. They will spend next year building out their pipeline while narrowing their customer focus, and at the same time increasing the product offering and growing the team. They are participating in the Entrepreneurs Fund this summer as well. (Sheila Dunne ‘20 & Luke Goodwin)
- Halligan is a software tool that helps with the equipment and truck check process for fire departments and EMTs to ensure safety. The team has a great product and probably the most traction of any recent TIA venture, generating in excess of $100K+ in annual recurring revenue with a client base of over 150 departments. They participated in the eFund last year. Their biggest challenge has been the partnership, as two of the founders are older alums, and the other is a student, Adam, who carried the torch in the TIA Incubator. With support and mentorship from his TIA mentors, Adam decided this spring to part ways with the team, but not before negotiating a stock agreement as well as leveraging the entire experience to get a dream job as a software engineer. The amount of experience and learning he accumulated during his time in TIA is astounding, from product development, partnership disputes, building a sales pipeline, closing contracts, providing customer support and so much more. (Adam Pratt ‘18)
- Natural Beauty manufactures an all-natural fiber, organic, toxic-free breast prosthesis. The venture was founded by Jill Nelson, a Hamilton community member, and is great example of how TIA and the mentors are supporting local entrepreneurs in addition to students. Jill was awarded a $35K grant from the Partnership for Community Development (PCD) / NY State for her venture. She has done extensive market testing, has purchased the necessary equipment for initial inventory, and is in the process of setting up her e-commerce as well as negotiating wholesale accounts. She will be back in the fall for the 200 level and has a very innovative product that will be making a difference in the lives of women who are breast cancer survivors. (Jill Nelson)
The Incubator is separated into two groups. The 100 level is composed of first-time teams that are embarking on their first experience with entrepreneurship (much like learning a new sport). The 200 level is composed of teams that have completed the 100 level and return to continue growing their venture for a second (and in some cases third) year.
This was our third year running a 200 level program for ventures that have been in TIA for more than one year. While the 100 level is focused on the beginning entrepreneur and developing entrepreneurial competencies, the 200 level is focused more on the actual venture and includes more skill-based topics such as marketing, financial record keeping, board creation, growing sales, etc. With each successive year, we are seeing that the 200 level ventures are the ones that get the most traction and have the greatest potential to turn into viable, sustainable businesses and nonprofits.
Following is a high-level breakdown of students and ventures that participated for 2017/18.
We have 147 active alumni, parent, and community mentors. A total of 43 mentors came to campus for at least one TIA session this past year. We averaged 22 mentors for each of our Saturday workshops. Of the total mentors this year, 9 are new. This year, mentors donated 2,880 hours to TIA. Over the past nine years, our mentors have given over 23,000 hours of their time to our students.
Our mentor advisory board consists of 10 lead mentors who have been with TIA for at least five years and make a commitment to come to at least seven of our eight monthly sessions. The group advises on curriculum, fundraising, marketing, etc. In addition, these 10 mentors provide 1-on-1 mentorship to the 200 level student entrepreneurs as well as to the 100 level groups in the afternoon breakout sessions. Lead mentors provide continuity to the ventures (so that students don’t feel that they are constantly bringing new mentors up-to-speed), while also sharing best practices with our newer alumni/community mentors.
The purpose of the Seed Grant Program is to provide funding for eligible ventures in the Student Incubator to accelerate their progress and validate with real customers and stakeholders. Students may apply for up to $1,000 to use towards advancing their ventures. A detailed policy and application process is in place and can be found on the TIA website. This program is funded through the TIA gift fund.
This year we had 12 teams apply for a seed grant, with nine receiving funding for a total of $6,496. These include:
- The Viewing Room – awarded $200 for for rental of a space to screen a movie.
- Xpedite – awarded $250 for survey expenses.
- Dunne Marketing – awarded $1,000 for market validation purposes.
- UCan – awarded $1,000 (in two installments) for design and purchase of recycling containers and payment for bottle pickup.
- Strata Printing – awarded $1,000 (in three installments) to purchase supplies to make a printer.
- Alz You Need – awarded $1,000 for technical needs (developer fees).
- Campus Coat Check – awarded $742 for supplies (coat racks, hangers, etc.)
- NaSo – awarded $1,000 (in two installments) for purchase of shirts, labor, website and photo shoot.
- Eva & Aiden – awarded $304 to hire an illustrator to have pages of book ready for eWeekend.
This year we partnered with the Partnership for Community Development (PCD) for programming content. Together we presented four workshops and two speakers. Workshops include:
- Writing for Social Media – Matt Hames, Communications Strategist, Colgate University
- Selling on Etsy – Sarah Dustin, owner of the Adirondack Ink
- Startup Experience – a two-day, design and entrepreneurship bootcamp followed by a three day immersion trip to NYC to visit startups including Cobani, Fair Harbor, Chicory, Swig, and Hinge
- “IRS!? TAXES!? INSURANCE!? PAYROLL!?” The Fundamentals of Starting a Business – the Small Business Development Center
We hosted 2 speakers:
- Brand Yourself – Patrick Ambron, CEO and Co-founder of BrandYourself.com
- Student-Athletes and Startups: How My Time as a Colgate Student Athlete Helped Me From Dorm Room Dream to Shark Tank Reality – Jimmy DeCicco ‘15, CEO Sunniva Super Coffee (in partnership with the Department of Athletics)
The Entrepreneurs 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.
This year we had 17 total applications, which were narrowed down to a field of nine for second round interviews, with a total of five teams chosen to each win a $13,000 award.
eFund judges included Alvin Glymph ’94, Tim O’Neill ‘78, Janice Ryan ’91, Amy Jurkowitz ‘85 and Steve Rock ‘85.
The five awardees were:
Deco 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, Tyler Jones)
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 Weinrauch, Zach Flyer)
eWeekend was held April 7 this year on campus in the Hall of Presidents. The weekend followed an abbreviated format to previous years, as we combined all of the programming into only the Saturday event, without the Friday night feature. Approximately 250 people attended this event.
Twenty-three TIA teams presented at booths in the Hall of Presidents during the “DemoDay” portion of the event, where attendees were able to mingle and spend time at each booth while enjoying a buffet lunch. In addition, four teams were featured to pitch their ventures to the audience:
The Viewing Room
In the afternoon a panel discussion kicked off with panelists: Bob Gold ’80, CEO and president of Ridgewood Capital; Jon Klein, co-founder of TAPP Media and former president at CNN/US; Jeffrey Sharp ’89, academy award winning filmmaker and president/CEO of Sharp Independent Pictures; and Katie Finnegan ’05, principal and founder at Store No. 8 and vice president at Incubation Walmart. Finnegan was also awarded the Alumni Council’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Following the panel, we chose four of our best TIA teams from this year to go on stage and pitch the panel for the “SharkTank” portion of the event. The four teams competed for a total purse of $7,000, which the “sharks” broke down into 1st, 2nd, and two 3rd place awards that were subsidized by the panelists (an additional $2000). The awards were paid out of the TIA gift fund. The teams that pitched were:
- ISO Film – a creative content house that specializes in film and video production founded by Lauren Sanderson ’18 and Brandon Doby ’18, earned $1,000 and was given a chance to make a film with Academy Award-winning producer Sharp.
- Loophole – a rubber ring phone grip and kickstand — and its founder Patrick Crowe ’18 earned $1,000; also, Gold and Finnegan placed orders for more than 2,000 units of branded products.
- Gipper – an automated athletics communications service for high schools and colleges, earned $3,000, and Finnegan offered San Francisco office space to its founders Matthew Glick ’19, Jack Zamore ’20, Ruchit Shrestha ’20, and Abby Waxler ’19.
- UCan – a social recycling system for colleges and universities that channels generated funds toward local anti-poverty organizations, earned $4,000 to expand its operations. Finnegan offered to connect UCan’s founder Christina Weiler ’21 with Walmart’s operations team to expand the project in Walmart retail stores.
This past year TIA has strengthened its partnership with the Partnership for Community Development (PCD) in order to reach more local entrepreneurs / business owners. As noted above, we’ve worked with the PCD on programming, putting together a variety of workshops and speakers that addressed the needs of our students as well as local entrepreneurs.
We are currently collaborating on opening up the incubator as a co-working space for local entrepreneurs. We will be renting space for $30 / month that includes: work space, internet, printing, a conference room for meetings, a private phone booth for phone calls, and a kitchenette stocked with essentials. We will be opening up and marketing the space beginning July 1.
This year we had 8 community members and 1 alumnus who participated in the TIA Incubator, with three of those participating at the 200 level. Seven finished the year and presented at eWeekend; one dropped out due to family commitments in the spring semester. Over the past three years, we have had 16 community members go through the Incubator. Of those, 2 (Good Nature Brewing, Carrie Blackmore ‘08 and Flour & Salt, Britty Buonocore ‘12) also participated in the Entrepreneurs Fund, each receiving $15,000 grants to go towards growing their local business.
CAMPUS VENTURE INITIATIVE
The Campus Venture Initiative was created in partnership with the Dean of the College and the Office of Finance and Administration to foster an environment on campus that enables students to realize their entrepreneurial pursuits. We work to ensure that school policies and processes reflect our dedication to entrepreneurship at Colgate and the desire to see our students succeed. Students do not have to be in TIA to apply to and be approved by the CVI. We did not have any applications to the initiative this year.
2017/18 TIA PRESS