Colgate provides seed funding for students founders who are working on ventures in the Thought Into Action Incubator to accelerate their progress, thanks to generous monetary donations from mentors, alumni, and parents.

Seed grants are intended for student founders who have demonstrated commitment to their ventures, worked closely with mentors to integrate feedback and iterate, and completed initial customer validation and prototyping. Ventures are eligible for up to $3,500 in funding during their lifetime, with two levels of seed grants available.

Applications are accepted from September-April each year.

Apply for a Seed Grant

Exploration Grants ($500)
Exploration Grants support ventures’ early discovery work: ideation and validation. This grant aids new ventures in identifying their customers and value proposition and developing a basic proof of concept. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis from September to April and reviewed by the venture’s mentor(s) and E&I’s administrative team. Ventures are eligible for one Exploration Grant during their lifetime, but a student may participate in more than one venture during the course of their studies at Colgate University.

Expansion Grants (up to $2,000)
Expansion Grants allow students to accelerate their current efforts in the Incubator. These experiential learning awards of up to $2,000 are intended for prototype development and customer discovery activities. Student founders who have demonstrated a commitment to their ventures, and worked closely with their mentors to integrate feedback and iterate are eligible to apply for an Expansion Grant. Ventures are eligible for up to $2,000 in funding during their lifetime. (This $2,000 cap is in addition to a $500 Exploration Grant for maximum lifetime funding from both grants of $2,500.)

Exploration and Expansion grants were established to assist E&I ventures to explore, test, launch, or expand a commercial start-up or social ventures. A grant award should be used for the purpose of validating your venture with real constituents (customers, donors, users, etc.). Applications of the following nature will have the best chance of being approved:

  • Prototyping, supplies, or product development and testing
  • Company app, software, and/or website development
  • Customer discovery, and advertising or marketing your venture
  • Subsidize the costs of tutors, in a real-time tutor marketplace business, to test a pilot
  • Hire a translator to help facilitate user-interviews with non-native speakers key to understanding the problem you’re trying to solve
  • Fund a first production run of a product, that ideally has already been research, and maybe even pre-sold, to customers (i.e. demand has already been validated)
  • Help cover the cost of a designer to create v.1 of a product, but only after the demand for the product has been well researched, tested, and confirmed

Funding cannot be used for the following:

  • Services, such as legal expenses, licensing fees, accounting, insurance, etc. While these are often necessary steps in getting a venture off the ground, these grants are designed to fund market validation and product development.
  • Individual education, skill development, career preparation, or wages for a team member(s) (i.e., funds can’t be used to pay yourself a salary for working on your venture)
  • Wages for team members (i.e., you can’t use these funds to pay yourself a salary for working on your venture)

The following items are expected. If you’re unclear or have questions about your eligibility, reach out to EandI@colgate.edu prior to submitting your application.

  • You must be a current Colgate student and founding-level member of a venture in the TIA Incubator.
  • You must include in your application two mentor references who will provide an endorsement of your positive personal brand.
  • Attendance and participation in the E&I program will be factored into decisions.
  • ALL team members must have work authorization in the U.S. If your team has an international student on your team, connect with OISS before applying: oiss@colgate.edu or 011-1-315-228-6131.

For an Exploration Grant:

  • Submit your application using the link above.
  • The E&I Administrative Team will review your application.
  • Your will receive a decision within 30 days of submission of your final application. You may be asked for additional information from the E&I admin team.

For an Expansion Grant:

  • The Expansion Grant process more closely emulates a real-world investment environment. Incubator participants representing high-potential startups should apply at the link above, understanding that due diligence will be performed on their application.
  • The E&I Admin Team and a corps of reviewers will complete a review of your application.
  • Feedback from that group will then be given to you for a review process with your mentor(s). You may be required to incorporate changes or additional information into your application. 
  • The final version of the proposal will then be submitted to the E&I Admin Team for review. Review will occur on a monthly basis.
  • You will receive a final decision within 10 days following the E&I Admin Team’s final review.
     
  • An Exploration Grant is a fixed $500 award; an Expansion Grant is up to $2,000. Each venture is eligible to receive one grant of each in its lifetime.
    • For an Expansion Grant, applications may be submitted for one lump sum, or in smaller increments, as needs arise. (As an example, a venture may apply for $1,000 to prototype a line of clothing in one academic year, and apply for $1,000 the following academic year to develop an app for the venture.) 
  • Every effort is made to ensure that these grants can be made available to all teams within an academic year. Teams are encouraged to apply when appropriate to their venture, not early in the academic year to “ensure funds are available.”
  • Founders/ventures retain any and all, current and future, intellectual property. Colgate University makes no claims to these assets, or any future assets created, related to the venture.
  • The capital awarded is in the form of a grant. There is no equity consideration in exchange, so founders will retain all of their equity.
  • Information submitted may be used by Colgate University in promotional material, and no compensation will be provided to the individuals or venture for doing so.
  • There is a limited pool of funds available for seed grants each academic year. Once that amount is granted in full (regardless of the number of ventures awarded), grant funding will be paused until the following academic year. 
  • Founders/ventures retain any and all, current and future, intellectual property. Colgate University makes no claims to these assets, or any future assets created, related to the venture.
  • The capital awarded is in the form of a grant. There is no equity consideration in exchange, so founders will retain all of their equity.
  • Information submitted may be used by Colgate University in promotional material, and no compensation will be provided to the individuals or venture for doing so.

Funds are issued in the form of a grant and will be distributed in one of two ways:

  • If the venture is incorporated and has an Employer Identification Number (EIN), the money will be disbursed to the venture.
  • If the venture does not have an EIN, the money will be distributed to one member of the team. In this situation, in compliance with IRS regulations, the grant is considered taxable income. The team member who receives the grant will be responsible for reporting this award on their tax returns. In the case of an International student, a Social Security number is required. Please consult your tax advisor for additional information or advice.
  • Payments will only be made once all required paperwork is completed.
  • Payments take approximately 30 days to remit to recipients.

After grants are distributed, teams are required to do the following: 

  • For an Exploration Grant:
    • Write a blog post for E&I about the impact of the Exploration Grant
    • Within 4 months or by the end of the academic year, whichever is sooner, awardees must provide clear documentation of how the funds were used and the results those activities yielded.
  • For an Expansion Grant:
    • Same as above, plus:
    • Assist with one activity organized by E&I focused on the recruitment of new students. (As an example: Speaking at a Brown Bag session to recruit new student entrepreneurs.)
    • Failure to comply with these requirements by the deadline indicated may result in a repayment of the grant, and forfeiting one’s opportunity to apply for E&I grants in the future. 

Contact

Please contact eandi@colgate.edu with any questions about the application process.