Last August, burgeoning entrepreneurs entered Colgate’s Thought Into Action incubator with an idea. By April 6, twenty-six teams had turned those ideas into concrete ventures, which they presented to investors, mentors, and Colgate community members during Entrepreneur Weekend, part of the Colgate Leadership Tradition at 200 Years series.
The Thought Into Action program — now in its 10th year — has helped 529 entrepreneurs craft 349 ventures with the guidance of 158 alumni mentors. This year, student entrepreneurs have worked to form web apps, non-profit organizations, and companies like EverTights, a hosiery brand, and EDGE, a private aviation concierge service. Matthew Glick ’19, CEO of Gipper Media, says that Entrepreneur Weekend was an amazing opportunity to see what the entrepreneurial community at Colgate has to offer.
During the Bringing Businesses to Life panel, moderated by Bob Gold ’80, CEO and President at Ridgewood Capital, alumni provided insights into the best business practices for entrepreneurs across various fields.
“A person needs to have a true sense of grit,” Alexandra Thompson ’02, founder and creative director at Persifor, said. “It really takes a certain individual who has tough skin and can keep forging ahead.”
Denniston Reid ’94, Chief Schools and Innovation Officer at Excellence Community Schools, noted, “One key thing about my work is that I have to understand that it is a business. If you don’t understand that, you lose the focus of what you’re doing.”
Dan Hurwitz ’86, P’17, ’20, chair of the Colgate University Board of Trustees and founder and CEO at Raider Hill Advisors, said, “Every time you fail at something, it helps you focus on what you are good at. When you focus on what you’re good at, you’re destined to be successful.”
“There’s an excitement in the room — almost like a buzz,” said Glick. “E-Weekend is an amazing opportunity for not only the students and alumni who have started businesses but also for people to engage, connect, and hear from the expertise of members of the panel.”
Following the panel discussion, four TIA teams pitched their ventures in Colgate’s version of Shark Tank. Chris Cervizzi ’19, of the Concussion Survival Kit, won first place and a cash prize of $2500; senior Uyi Omorogbe’s NaSo venture placed second and received $1500; while both Jack Ablon ’21 of Edge and sibling-duo Maya Dunne ’21 and Kevin Dunne ’19 with Valet Seller each won $500.
Later in the program, Robert Johnson ’94 was recognized by Thought Into Action and the Alumni Corporation as the alumnus best exemplifying the ideals of entrepreneurship and was given the Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Students interested in joining the TIA incubator for the 2019–20 school year can reach out to Thought Into Action Director Carolyn Strobel at firstname.lastname@example.org.