Innovators upend traditional routines. Colgate is celebrating and invoking that spirit during its third annual Thought Into Action Entrepreneur Weekend, April 11–12. The result promises to be an exciting and informative experience for the university’s community of entrepreneurial students, parents, alumni, and faculty.
Entrepreneur Weekend begins at 6.p.m. on Friday in Cotterell Court with a panel conversation on founding, funding, building, and scaling the most innovative companies in the world. Not one, but four superstar entrepreneurs will share the stage this year.
The panel includes Tony Bates, former executive vice president of development and strategy for Microsoft, CEO of Skype, and head of enterprise for Cisco Systems, as well as Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, one of the most innovative companies to come out of Silicon Valley in the past 10 years. Chesky, one of Fortune magazine’s 40 under 40, is considered a leader of the new sharing economy, and his company is disrupting the hospitality industry.
Bates and Chesky will be joined by Ashton Kutcher — actor, director, entrepreneur, and investor. Kutcher recently portrayed Apple legend Steve Jobs, in the movie Jobs. Kutcher and his partner, Guy Oseary, founded a leading early-stage investing firm, A-Grade Investments, and have invested in important companies like Airbnb, Spotify, Warby Parker, and Sound Cloud. Daniel Rosensweig P’15’17, former COO of Yahoo, CEO of Guitar Hero, and now CEO of Chegg, rounds out the panel, which will be hosted by David Faber of CNBC Squawk on the Street fame.
After an engaging discussion, panelists will grill Thought Into Action Institute (TIA) incubator participants in a Shark Tank-style competition. The stakes are high. Teams will pitch their projects in hopes of receiving a nod from this group of expert investors and earning a grant from Colgate’s Entrepreneurs Fund, which awards $15,000 grants and summertime office space to new, promising ventures developed by undergraduates and alumni.
The excitement continues Friday evening with the launch of the Entrepreneur Professional Network in the Hall of Presidents. The fourth new professional network to be launched this academic year, the Entrepreneur Network will connect alumni and parents, working in diverse sectors of the industry, with each other, the university, and its students. (Read more about Colgate’s unique approach to professional networks at colgate.edu/networks.)
On Saturday, student venture demos will take place in the Hall of Presidents from noon to 4 p.m., hosted by General Catalyst Partners co-founder David Fialkow ’81, P’17. Colgate will also present the first-ever Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Julian Farrior ’93, founder of Backflip Studios. The alumni council selected Farrior for the inaugural honor based on his experience building ventures from the ground up, demonstrating a passion for meeting unmet needs, and leveraging his liberal arts education to make it all happen.
Entrepreneur Weekend, co-sponsored by the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute, has become a must-attend event on the university’s calendar. In 2013, Entrepreneur Weekend featured Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and author of the bestselling book Lean In. International entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson delivered the keynote in 2012.
The Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute promotes entrepreneurial activities on campus by engaging multiple constituencies at Colgate — students, alumni, faculty, parents, friends, and administrators. For more information, visit colgate.edu/tia, and watch colgate.edu/entrepreneurweekend for Entrepreneur Weekend schedules and updates.