If you have a problem or idea that sparks your enthusiasm and you're ready for an intense, immersive experience building something from the ground up, apply to join the TIA Incubator.
The Incubator is open to first-years through seniors, as well as alumni and local community members. It begins as a year-long commitment and offers successful and motivated entrepreneurs the opportunity to continue for subsequent years.
Applications for the 2021–2022 Incubator are now open. The spring recruitment cycle ends on Sunday, April 25 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Application Requirements and Process
Applicants to the TIA Incubator are expected to:
- Have a business/non-profit idea, a sense of the problem you are trying to solve and your target customer/audience
- Have a founding team of at least 2+ members (refer to FAQ section)
- Be able to able to actively participate in all aspects of the program curriculum (see program commitment below)
To apply, fill out the form linked from the button below. After we receive your application, we will reach out to set up a video interview over Zoom to learn more about your venture idea and share what you should expect during the year-long Incubator.
Being an entrepreneur requires hard work, dedication, perseverance, and overcoming failure. The program runs from September to March. Attendance is required for all components of the program. You will be provided with the full schedule for the year at the start of the program so that you can block off the dates and times on your calendars.
TIA entrepreneurs are required to:
- Attend a monthly mentoring session, once a month on Saturday mornings
- Attend a monthly hour-long interactive workshop, covering topics in entrepreneurship
- Participate in a 30-minute mid-month conference call with your mentors each month
- Work with your team on three action items between each mentoring session
- Communicate promptly with your mentors and TIA staff in Slack
- Attend at least one pitch and feedback night during the year
The format for the program in 2021-2022 is still be determined. We will likely follow a hybrid format, with some program components held in person and other components held virtually.
Sample TIA Incubator Schedule
The schedule for the upcoming Incubator has not yet been published. This schedule below from 2020-2021 will give you a sense of the typical timings and frequency of program components. Days and times for programs may look different this year based on remote/in-person/hybrid approach.
All ventures are required to attend all mentoring sessions:
Saturday, September 26, 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 7, 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 5, 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 30, 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 20, 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 27, 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Ventures participate in either the 100 level or 200 level. Ventures typically spend their first year in the Incubator at the 100 level. Required workshops for 100-level teams:
- Developing Your Idea: Wednesday, September 2, 7-8 p.m.
- Product Development, Prototyping, Testing, and Gathering Feedback from Users: Wednesday, November 4, 7-8 p.m.
- Building and Managing a Team: Wednesday, December 2, 7-8 p.m.
- Building Your Brand: Wednesday, January 27, 7-8 p.m.
- Marketing and Sales Fundamentals: Wednesday, February 17, 7-8 p.m.
- Managing a Business: Wednesday, March 24, 7-8 p.m.
Ventures participate in either the 100 level or 200 level. Typically, ventures in the 200 level have been in the Incubator for at least a year. Required workshops for 200-level teams:
- Tuesday, October 6, 7-8 p.m.
- Tuesday, November 10, 7-8 p.m.
- Tuesday, December 8, 7-8 p.m.
- Tuesday, February 2, 7-8 p.m.
- Tuesday, March 1, 7-8 p.m.
- Tuesday, March 30, 7-8 p.m.
All teams must attend at least one pitch and feedback night during the year:
- Monday, October 12, 7-8 p.m.
- Monday, November 16, 7-8 p.m.
- Monday, February 8, 7-8 p.m.
- Monday, March 1, 7-8 p.m.
- Monday, April 5, 7-8 p.m.
Frequently Asked Questions
We accept a broad range of ideas in business, non-profit, and campus-focused areas. Whether your idea is a consumer businesses, food startup, non-profit organization, B2B business, technology app, or campus venture, you can find a place in TIA.
When you apply to TIA, you should have a business/non-profit idea, a sense of the problem you are trying to solve, and an idea of who your target customer/audience is.
If you're not certain about your idea, check out our current and past TIA ventures for inspiration. We also encourage you to do some research online about how to develop a startup idea—check out the "General Startup Resources" section of our resources page.
Having a founding team instead of just a single founder has benefits for many reasons: you will have a wider variety of viewpoints, each member brings a unique skill set, you may make faster progress with more hands on deck, collaborating with others will help keep you motivated during tough times, and much more.
If you have an idea but don't have any teammates, we encourage you to think of creative ways to find collaborators. A classmate? Someone who lives on your floor? Fellow club member or teammate? You can also attend a TIA brown bag or information session and see if you meet a teammate there. Your team members do not need to be current Colgate students—they can be students at other institutions, Colgate alumni, etc.
If you intend to add another team member but haven't found one yet, apply anyway. Similarly, if you believe that your venture would be best suited as a single-person team, apply anyway. We do accept single-person teams in to the Incubator. The video interview will be a chance to talk about whether staying as a single-person venture is the right thing and/or discuss approaches to finding teammates.
If you have plans to study abroad for a semester, you can still participate in TIA, as long as other members of your venture will be on campus during that semester. Joining the Incubator as a single-person venture during a year in which you are abroad is challenging, as the program's curriculum spans the full academic year.
Our program format for the year remains to be determined. During the pandemic, we have designed the Incubator to accommodate current students wherever they are studying. We encourage you to apply to join the Incubator even if you believe you may be studying remotely in the fall semester.
Many varsity athletes have been successful participants in the Incubator in the past. We try to work closely with athletes in the program to accommodate their schedules while ensuring they do not miss essential program content. If you are a student athlete applying to join the Incubator, we recommend the following:
- Try to recruit someone to your team who does not play on the same team as you, so that they can still attend sessions when you have conflicts.
- Share the Incubator schedule with your coach at the start of the academic year and let them know that you have made this commitment to the program.
- Communicate conflicts with the TIA staff and your mentors as early as possible and propose ways to catch up on the content you miss. If your schedule is in flux, let them know that things are up in the air and you will update them when you have more information. Try to avoid last-minute cancellations or unexcused absences.
Prior to the pandemic, our program required monthly in-person attendance at on-campus events. During the pandemic, the Incubator was able to accommodate participants regardless of where they are located.
Our program format for the year remains to be determined. We encourage you to apply to join the Incubator even if you are an alumna/us who does not live close to campus.
In general, entrepreneurs are expected to be at each component of the program, including workshops and monthly mentoring sessions. However, we understand that conflicts arise. Part of the benefit of having a team is that if one team member cannot make it to the workshop, the venture is still represented.
If your entire venture team is not able to make it to one of the workshops or mentoring sessions, you should notify the TIA director and alumni executive director prior to that event. You should also notify your mentors directly if your entire team will be missing a mentoring session.
Teams are allowed one absence over the course of the year, when giving prior notification. If the entire team misses more than one workshop or does not provide advance notice of an absence, it generally results in the team leaving the program.
Intellectual Property Considerations
The University's intellectual property policies apply to venture in the TIA Incubator. If you have questions or believe that your venture involves intellectual property considerations, please reach out to the Committee on Intellectual Property.
Given the nature of our program, the frequent communication between various teams and mentors, and the volume of ventures we have worked with over the years, we do not sign non-disclosure agreements.