Student entrepreneurs who are interested in selling goods or services on campus are supported by the Campus Venture Initiative (CVI), which provides certification to operate on campus and resources to support on-campus business activity.

Apply for Certification

Students who are approved by the Campus Venture Initiative receive the following resources to grow their ventures on campus:

  • Official approval from the University to operate and market on campus
  • Access to an exclusive, high-trafficked location in the Coop to sell goods and market services (currently unavailable due to COVID-19 modifications on campus; approved teams can work with the committee to determine an alternate location for on-campus activity, as needed)
  • Access to a ’Gate Card machine to process payments

Venture Requirements

Although ventures are welcome to apply to the CVI at any time, they will be required to have the following in place before receiving approval and certification:

  • Status as a sole proprietorship, LLC, 501(c)(3) non-profit, or other entity
  • Appropriate insurance coverage
  • Business checking account
  • For food ventures, an appropriate food service permit from the Madison County Department of Health

Ventures are responsible for researching and setting up the appropriate entity, insurance, and permitting. Local resources available to provide guidance and connections include the Partnership for Community Development and the Small Business Development Center in Utica and Syracuse. In addition, ventures that are currently part of the TIA Incubator can reach out to the TIA director for guidance.

Application Process and Operating Guidelines

The director of Thought Into Action will review your application to make sure it’s complete and ready for presentation to the review committee. If more information is needed, the director will work with you to make necessary changes.

Once the initial application is approved, you will be scheduled to interview with the review committee. The committee meets monthly.

You should be prepared to “pitch” your business idea to the panel. This presentation should take no longer than five minutes and should be as concise and direct as possible. Please bring a notebook to take notes. Any handouts, slide deck, or other materials must be emailed to the director of TIA prior to the interview. He/she will make copies to distribute to the committee.  

After your initial presentation, the committee will ask questions to learn more about your venture and determine its viability on campus. 

The interview will last approximately 20-30 minutes. A decision will not be made on the spot; rather the TIA director will notify you of the decision within a few days. If you have been given suggestions or requests for more information, you will need to follow up before a decision will be made.

While our goal is to make operating a student business as easy as possible at Colgate, there may be circumstances that might interfere with implementing your idea. Some examples include:

  • Ventures that interfere with contracts that outside vendors have with the university.
  • Ventures that pose a risk to the university.
  • Ventures that conflict with existing university policies.
  • Ventures that would require University staff time and resources in order to operate.
  • Ventures that are franchise businesses will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • These circumstances are usually rare and would be discussed in more detail in the interview. 

Before applying to the Campus Venture Initiative, you should research insurance requirements for your industry, have an initial conversation with an insurance expert, and come prepared to answer questions about insurance requirements and the research you have done so far.

It is likely that you will be required to purchase a minimum insurance liability policy. The amount of coverage will be dependent on the nature of the venture. Some examples of ventures that will need insurance are those that are food-related, require the use of a vehicle, or any activity that the committee determines to be high risk.

Proof of insurance will be required before the venture is approved and resources are made available.


Once you are accepted, you will receive access to a ’Gate Card terminal for processing payments that you can reserve through TIA when operating on campus. You will need a business checking account in order for the Accounting Department to transfer the money to you. You will be expected to collect sales tax as a business in accordance with the applicable laws for you business.

If you are approved, you will receive a certificate of operation that indicates you are an approved business with contact information on who to reach out to if any issues should arrive.

Ventures/businesses that have received CVI approval will need to renew their certification under the following circumstances:

  • At the beginning of each academic year
  • When the main contact person for a student-run venture/business changes
  • Whenever insurance certification or other paperwork changes

Renew your certification here.

If you are approved and become a Colgate-sanctioned business, recognize that you are still an independently operated business and Colgate does not profit or benefit in any way from the proceeds. As such, you will be held to the same standards as an outside vendor. Additionally, being approved as a student-run business does not exclude the University from allowing or actively seeking competition from other sources. Finally, the University reserves the right to terminate recognition at any time upon written notice without necessity of demonstrating cause.

By approving a student-run business, Colgate is in no way endorsing nor promoting this business over any other approved vendor.

Campus Venture Initiative Committee

Associate Vice President for Community Affairs and Auxiliary Services
Assistant Vice President for Risk and Strategic Analysis
308 James B. Colgate Hall
Director of Purchasing
Service Building
Assistant Vice President for Residential Planning and Programs
Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation