Innovation on Wheels: E&I Launches New “13 Machine”

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During homecoming weekend, Colgate’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (E&I) unveiled its own new venture: the 13 Machine. Originally acquired during the COVID-19 pandemic to serve Utica Coffee to students, this food truck has undergone a remarkable transformation in the past six months, acquiring a mission to infuse excitement and originality into various campus events and engagements.

The 13 Machine isn’t your typical food truck; it’s a versatile, mobile pop-up shop, designed to cater to a wide range of campus needs. According to Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Carolyn Strobel-Larsen, its purpose is to “provide student businesses, dining services, campus offices, and student groups with a new and exciting way to engage the Colgate community.” 

The truck will be available to a variety of users, including recognized student organizations, student-run business approved by the Campus Venture Initiative, and University departments and offices. Interested parties simply book the truck through an online form, specify the time and location of their events, and wait for certified drivers to deliver the truck to their venue. “We are really trying to remove those barriers so that it’s just where they want it, when they want it,” said Strobel-Larsen. 

The 13 Machine is also expected to have a positive impact on E&I’s Thought Into Action (TIA) program by providing students with a new, eye-catching location to advertise their ventures and products on campus. “Our hope is that the 13 Machine will provide even more value for student-run businesses by creating a really attractive location to sell their products,” said Strobel-Larsen.

One of the key features of the 13 Machine is its striking exterior. Bernie Freytag, Colgate’s art director, led the design process. “The team’s goal in designing the truck was to bring excitement and novelty to all parts of campus, while including the energy that makes us distinctively Colgate.” The final design features visual references to academics, athletics, campus traditions, and iconic buildings. 

The design process lasted approximately three months, beginning with digital sketches that were then superimposed onto a virtual image of the truck. In the weeks that followed, designers produced multiple iterations to refine the look. “Elements were moved, colors shifted, and there was a fair amount of configuring until we knew it was right,” explained Freytag. The final design was then entrusted to an external vendor, tasked with applying it to the truck. 

The 13 Machine made its grand entrance into the community during homecoming weekend, where it was used to hand out Colgate swag and bubble tea from TIA’s very own Cha’Gate venture. In the weeks to come, the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation will use the 13 Machine Instagram account to keep students informed about its whereabouts and activities.

“This is an exciting time for the University, and we hope the truck embodies that excitement,” said Freytag.