Students urged to seek chance to turn idea into reality

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“It is not for the faint of heart.”

That is what Andy Greenfield ’74 said about membership in the university’s Thought Into Action Institute, which provides mentoring to students who want to transform ideas into realities.

Greenfield has been teaching a practical entrepreneurship program the past two years, with about eight students in each session. With assistance from Bob Gold ’80 and Wills Hapworth ’06, and support from President Jeffrey Herbst, he is ready to accept more students and make the institute a thriving entity on campus.

The institute is accepting applications (until April 8th) from students who want to be involved next fall, and also is looking for more alumni to become mentors. The non-credit course meets for five hours one Saturday a month, and mentors offer additional support through Skype and e-mail.


Greenfield (above), a serial entrepreneur and founder of Greenfield Consulting Group, a qualitative marketing research firm, said entrepreneurs often have “scars” from failed ideas, but if they are truly passionate about a project, they can make it happen.

He said he is buoyed by the growing entrepreneurial spirit among Colgate’s students.

“The world is changing. Young people coming into the real world can’t just say, ‘We’re at the mercy of a bad job market.’ They can control their destinies to a large extent and succeed by design, not by happenstance,” he said.

“And the skills that they learn through Thought Into Action are only useful for everything they will do in life.”

Rebecca Michlin ’12 is taking what she learned in this year’s program and starting a nonprofit organization called A Pack on the Back.

She is raising funds so that beginning next fall, her nonprofit can provide essential school supplies to underprivileged students in the Waterville, N.Y., school district.

“Andy has continuously put aside hours to help me plan and brainstorm effective ways to communicate with potential donors and faculty from the Waterville schools,” she said.

Another member of the TIA program, Ryan Smith ’13, is launching a business that will sell environmentally friendly products to universities.


Thought Into Action Institute brochure (PDF)

Institute application for students

Summer camp at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (PDF)

A Pack on the Back (website under development)

Colgate’s Entrepreneurship Club

And Maggie Dunne ’13 established a nonprofit corporation and is conducting a camp this summer for about 40 students from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

“I loved the course because not only did I form connections with alumni who have all had experience in entrepreneurship, but also I had the captive audience of a diverse group of Colgate students who all had their own ideas that they were passionate about.

“The course was a success for me because I was able to turn my ideas into reality, and the camp is going to happen,” she said.

That is just what Greenfield wants to hear, from even more students next fall.

“This institute is about helping kids learn the craft of doing so they can accomplish what President Herbst has said is one of the key components of the university’s mission: preparing our students to make a difference in the world.”