Alumni come up big and make funding commitment to student entrepreneur

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Andy Greenfield ’74 launches the Little Talks, Big Ideas series. (Photo by Andy Daddio)

A new feature of Colgate’s annual Entrepreneur Weekend, a speaking series called Little Talks, Big Ideas, resulted in a big-time funding commitment to one student entrepreneur and the promise of an invaluable connection to another.

It was a real-time demonstration of the power of the Colgate network and its flourishing entrepreneurial spirit, and it was on full display Saturday afternoon in Memorial Chapel.

Maggie Dunne ‘13 had just made an impassioned presentation about Lakota Children’s Enrichment Inc., a nonprofit corporation she founded that addresses issues facing the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Dunne told the audience about the need to invest in human capital and how too many Americans have chosen to ignore rural poverty.


“We don’t want to face the injustices happening right here in our own country, to Native Americans and others,” she said.

Up stepped David Fialkow ‘81, co-founder of General Catalyst Partners, and Mike Ellenbogen ‘86, an entrepreneur in residence at General Catalyst. And before you knew it, they had committed $22,000 to Dunne’s nonprofit and solicited at least $3,000 more from the audience.

“Let’s do this,” said Fialkow. “Let’s make this happen.”

Fialkow then pulled Jack Henley ‘12 onto the stage and had him make his pitch for Real, a web venture he co-founded with Steve Carey ‘12. The website is geared toward college students interested in information about study abroad and travel experiences.

After Henley discussed his project and fielded questions from the audience, Fialkow and Ellenbogen promised an introduction to people they know at Rough Draft Ventures, a Boston-area partnership that provides seed money for start-ups.

Henley and Dunne are both participants in the university’s Thought Into Action program, which pairs successful alumni entrepreneurs with students to help the students start up their own business or not-for-profit organization.

Now in its fourth year, TIA was co-founded by veteran entrepreneur Andy Greenfield ’74 P’12; Wills Hapworth ’07, president, DarkHorse Investors; and Bob Gold ’80 P’15, president and CEO, Ridgewood Capital.

Amy Jurkowitz '85 discusses her work as a social entrepreneur.

Amy Jurkowitz ’85, co-founder of Milkshake, discusses her work as a social entrepreneur.

Greenfield opened the Little Talks, Big Ideas session and noted how far TIA had come through the involvement of dedicated alumni and the leadership of President Jeffrey Herbst.

“Entrepreneurship is embedded in Colgate’s DNA,” said Greenfield.

Greenfield introduced each speaker, who provided words of advice and snippets from their success and failures as entrepreneurs. In addition to Dunne, the other speakers were:

AMY JURKOWITZ ’85, co-founder of Milkshake, a media company devoted to discovering all that’s good around the globe — featuring companies, causes, products, people, and places making a positive impact.

SARAH STEWART ’04, co-founder of The Pop Nation, a San Francisco-based company that manufactures and sells gourmet, vegan, and gluten-free popsicles.

KATIE FINNEGAN ’05, who launched Hukkster, a platform that allows online shoppers to tag their preferences anytime, anywhere, and gain real-time access to specific products the moment they go on sale.

BRIAN HAGHIGHI ’09, co-founder and chief marketing officer of California Fruit Wine Co., an innovative winery in San Diego that handcrafts wines from a variety of fruits other than grapes.