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Navigating the Start-up World, by Zach Zaro ’07

By Contributing Writer on August 12, 2016
Zach Zaro '07

Zach Zaro ’07

Zach Zaro has spent the last nine years working in a variety of positions in the start-up world. For the last six years, as a software developer, he helped build Percolate as an early-stage engineering and product leader, and his most recent venture as the founding CTO at Maven Clinic, a digital health clinic for women. Following are some thoughts Zach has had as well as lessons learned on his entrepreneurial path.

Liberal Arts and Technology Careers
A liberal arts education was a great preparation for the career I’ve had in technology. Some of the skills I use every day are: the ability to research and think deeply about unfamiliar topics; the ability to digest and distill complicated ideas into simpler ones; and the ability to ask good questions. These are the foundations of thoughtfulness that our liberal arts professors all strive to show us.

The most basic aspect of the technology industry is that things go obsolete very quickly. Google replaced older search engines, and is now being challenged itself. Snapchat suddenly has more users than Twitter. Amazon Web Services made the “public cloud” popular, and now Google and Microsoft are selling the next generation of cloud services. New programming languages are invented. The treadmill is relentless and ceaseless.

A liberal arts education gives you the ability to think critically, which is invaluable when it comes to adapting in this ever-changing world. Thinking critically encourages you to have reasons to justify your conclusions, instead of relying on groupthink and dogma. The practice in these skills that you get at Colgate will give you the freedom to make choices about what to learn based on what really fits into your path ahead, all things considered. When you think from first principles instead of based on what you might have heard or read, you can form a coherent story about why to do things, as opposed to simply following a formula or processing orders. It’s never bad to spend time exploring and staying current – the hard part is finding a balance between putting your nose down and working, and picking your head up to see what might be happening around you.

Additionally, thinking critically forces you to actually know what you want to say and why you want to say it. This will make you a powerful communicator in the workplace. In today’s data-driven world, knowing what questions to ask is the only way to get the support you need for your arguments. If you cannot describe exactly what you want to get out of a database, you won’t be able to get the data you need – and so critical thinking will only become more important as we rely more and more on “big data” in businesses large and small. When you can consolidate multiple points of view and help guide decisions and consensus, you can become a lynchpin of your team, and an asset to any enterprise that you endeavor to contribute to.

Early-Stage vs. Later Stage Companies
So far, I’ve worked at nine “start-up” companies ranging in size from just me up to 100 people, and in roles ranging from entry-level to executive leadership. There’s a huge difference in the experience at these different size companies. Understanding this is very helpful as you’re looking at where to work or thinking about how to build your own team. The differences are really much bigger than you might expect, and this decision is one of the most important when thinking about what your daily experience will be like.

Working with yourself or just another person or two, the biggest challenge is prioritizing your time and getting something done that moves your business forward every day. You need a laser-like focus on details and every hour you put in matters a huge amount. It’s interesting to think about the effect of this as a total percentage of the hours worked on the company as a whole. When it’s just you at the beginning, a day can affect a whole number of percentage points. At Ford Motors, a whole year of full-time work is probably a rounding error on a TI-83 calculator.

With a team of about 10 people, things are very different. You are probably the only specialist in whatever you do, but there are other people with similar skill sets that can help. Leadership is so important at this stage because team habits are forming and bad communication can waste multiple people’s time. The emphasis here should be focus on communication and culture as a leader, and on building a culture of respect and professionalism as a member of the team.

Once a company gets bigger than 30-40 people, and really up until 100 people, everything changes again. You’ll have teams of specialists in each important skill set, and often the organization within these teams is more important for the day-to-day of the company than the overall structure/culture. As a team leader, you want to focus on finding people to delegate the details to, so that you can focus on the big picture. As a team member, at this stage, you want to focus on processes and building automatic productivity and communication into the company workflows, so that your job gets easier and the company benefits from your impact as a multiple of the hours you put in.

TIA Mentoring
Being a TIA mentor and interacting with young entrepreneurs in general has been a great way for me to learn surprising truths about how people approach new ventures. The most important thing I have learned is that there is such an amazing reservoir of talent and ambition at Colgate. The TIA program has found a way to put some structure around that energy and it’s amazing to see the results that have come out of it. I hope to learn more from the classes to come!

One thing I’ve seen (and reflecting on my own weaknesses, probably) is just how easy it is to lose focus on getting something out the door and into the market, instead of worrying endlessly about the details. You can get distracted by trying to envision the perfect customer, find the optimal price point, or user-test the best wireframe. These are all important, but as Mike Tyson once said “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face” – and when you are working on a new idea you should be trying to get punched in the face as quickly as possible. The most exciting thing about being around the TIA program is seeing all the punches that everybody is willing to take in order to put thought Into action.

Zachary Zaro is a 2007 Colgate graduate with degrees in Political Science and Philosophy. Since graduation he has worked in the technology industry in New York City and has been a TIA mentor since 2012. While he lives in Brooklyn, Zach really misses living on Lake Moraine.

Fifth Annual Entrepreneur Weekend

By Mary Galvez on April 20, 2016
Thought Into Action students gather on stage at Colgate’s fifth Entrepreneur Weekend celebration. (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

Thought Into Action students gather on stage at Colgate’s fifth Entrepreneur Weekend celebration. (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

Colgate and Thought Into Action hosted the fifth annual Entrepreneur Weekend, April 8–9, celebrating the relentless determination that goes into successful ventures and connecting students with veteran business builders.

The weekend kicked off with a keynote conversation on Friday night. Moderated by Forbes magazine tech editor Steven Bertoni ’02, the panel included Tyler Haney, CEO of Outdoor Voices; Payal Kadakia, CEO and co-founder of ClassPass; Jon McNeill, president of global sales and service at Tesla Motors; Clare MacGoey, CFO of Giphy; and David Fialkow ’81, managing director at General Catalyst Partners.

The Shark Tank–style competition was moderated by Peter Boyce of General Catalyst Partners and Rough Draft Ventures alongside Andrew Parietti ’10, president of Outdoor Voices. The panel heard from Thought Into Action students Samantha Braver ’18 and Ryan Diew ’17 of airport navigation app Trippie; Richard Sanders ’17 of the sports beverage company Seela; Miranda Scott ’18 of The Waffle Cookie, a socially conscious baked-goods start-up; and Rex Messing ’15 and Ryan Clement ’16 of the outdoor adventure firm Tuwa Tuwa, Inc.

After delivering their pitches and answering a series of questions from the pros, the students split a $20,000 pool of capital that will help them move their ventures forward. The first-place prize of $6,900 was awarded to Trippie; second-place $5,200 to The Waffle Cookie; third-place $4,100 to Seela; and fourth-place $3,800 to Tuwa Tuwa, Inc.

On Saturday, an expo-style event was held in the Hall of Presidents where twenty teams of entrepreneurs showcased their ventures to almost 400 alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends. Five teams alternated pitching their ventures during the afternoon to an enthusiastic and welcoming crowd. The weekend wound up with a reception at the TIA Incubator downtown with one final presentation by Jehdeiah Mixon ’18 and Hannah Shaheen O’Malley ’17 pitching their venture UNRAVEL.

Read the full article by Mark Walden from the Colgate Communications office.

Read the Maroon News article here.



Congratulations to the 2016 Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund Winners

By Mary Galvez on April 20, 2016
Wills Hapworth, Samantha Braver, Ryan Diew, Adam Pratt, Nick Friedman,Leda Rosenthal, Jenny Lundt, Amber Codiroli, Britty Buonocore

Wills Hapworth, Samantha Braver, Ryan Diew, Adam Pratt, Nick Friedman, Leda Rosenthal, Jenny Lundt, Amber Codiroli, Britty Buonocore


Congratulations to the five teams who were chosen as winners of the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund announced at this years Entrepreneur Weekend. The fund was established in 2013 to grow and advance the ventures of Colgate student and alumni entrepreneurs who are solving problems and demonstrating an ability to execute. The winners are:


Trippietrippie – a mobile app that takes the guesswork and turbulence out of navigating big airports.

Samantha Braver ’18 and Ryan Diew ’17


Halliganfirefighter_icon – easy to understand firehouse software so all you need to worry about is the job.

Alex Montgomery ’11, Drew Brien ’11, Adam Pratt ’18, and Nick Friedman ’16


Alz You NeedAlzLogoMarch2016_1_opt – a communication interface designed specifically for families with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or a dementia­-related illness.

Leda Rosenthal ’18 and Jenny Lundt ’19


Amber’s Natural Goods
Ambers – a producer of all natural peanut and nut products, mainly nut butters, based out of Hamilton, NY.

Amber Codiroli ’10


Flour & Salt BakeryFlourSalt_Logo – a local retail bakery that caters to a niche market for breakfast, baked breads and bagels, and sweet and savory pastries.

Britty Buonocore ’12



Trippie – The Answer to Tired, Hungry and Grumpy by Ryan Diew ’17

By Contributing Writer on February 22, 2016
ryan diew '17

Ryan Diew ’17

Two years ago I found myself stranded in Ronald Reagan International Airport in Washington, DC. I had an hour layover before boarding my flight to San Francisco, and after a week of finals I was dying to get home. I was tired. I was grumpy. And I was hungry. There was an issue though—it hadn’t occurred to me that I needed to pack food for my trip. One might think that I could have just purchased something in the terminal, since airports have lots of food options. The problem, however, was that I had no idea what food places were nearby or how long it would take me to get to them. To make matters worse, I’d traveled with 3 carry-on bags. Given how tired I was from traveling all day, lugging my bags a long distance across the airport to search for food would simply not have been very feasible. During this time of despair and ravenousness I thought to myself “Why isn’t there a service that can show me airport food vendors, and deliver food to me?” It was in that moment that Trippie was born. I made the decision right then and there to pioneer a service which would remedy a problem that far too many travelers face on a daily basis.

sam braver '18

Samantha Braver ’18

Over time, Trippie has evolved from an airport food delivery service, to an airport information mapping tool, which allows travelers to see all of the food vendors around them in the terminals. Currently, there is no mobile based service that’s focused on helping travelers see nearby food options, as only individual airport websites hold this information. Trippie is a mobile app that will take the guesswork and confusion out of navigating big airports. Frequent flyers will no longer need to visit many different airport websites, which are often very “buggy”, since Trippie consolidates all of the essential information into one simple app. The app will allow travelers to explore a detailed interactive map for any airport they visit and immediately get the lay of the land. Current development of the app is going very well. Using San Francisco International Airport as our model, we have successfully integrated mapping functionality, as well as a menu displaying food options in each terminal. We are looking forward to having the app available for download by fall 2016.

TrippieSince the idea’s original conception, I have had the pleasure of meeting an exceptional woman in Samantha Braver ‘18. A casual conversation about campus activities fostered a strong friendship and partnership which took this idea to new heights. From day one, Sam’s creativity, passion and intelligence has helped grow and improve Trippie substantially. The addition of Sam, partnered with the help of TIA mentors Janice Ryan ’94 and Bruce Rutter ’73, has really helped us turn thought into action, as we are about to embark upon something really great with this venture. Janice and Bruce stressed to us the importance of taking small steps with our venture, which makes solving the current problem that plagues airplane travelers very realistic and attainable. Trippie would not be possible without them.

Ryan Diew is a junior majoring in Computer Science. This past summer he worked with Google to become Colgate’s Google Student Ambassador on campus for the 2015-16 academic year. On campus Ryan is involved in numerous activities including varsity basketball, Link Staff and student government. He is very interested in the fields of Computer Science and technology, as well as marketing and advertising.

Samantha Braver is a sophomore majoring in Computer Science and Art & Art History. She is a member of the SGA Executive Board, does marketing for the fitness department, and is a member of marketing club.


BubbleTrails – Bubbles, a Princess, Pirates, and Dreams

By Mary Galvez on January 28, 2016
Jean and her daughter Jessie

Jean Neidhardt and her daughter Jessie

True to the start-up nature of TIA, this past year we tried something new. We opened the Student Incubator to community members. We have three non-students who are incubating their ventures alongside our student entrepreneurs. Clay Skinner owns the Hamilton Eatery and is interested in possibly expanding his business while also looking for new opportunities. Scott Williams also owns a local restaurant, N13 and joined TIA to develop new ideas for growing his business. Jean Neidhardt developed a board game and is looking for help in bringing the game to market as the first in what will hopefully be a line of bathtub games for kids. We spoke with Jean about her venture as well as her experience in TIA.


Jean Neidhardt is from Morrisville, NY and has spent the last 36 years working in various industries in management positions. A few years ago, when her daughter Jessie was a little girl, they came up with an idea for a board game that would make bath time fun. Jean talked to a number of people about her idea, and while everyone told her it was a great idea, Jean wasn’t sure how to even begin to turn that idea into a reality. Over the years she did some preliminary work by creating a rough prototype and tested it a bit, but mostly the idea just sat in the back of her mind. When she was presented with the opportunity to join the TIA Student Incubator, Jean jumped at the chance. The positive reaction she got from the mentors and students when she pitched her idea at the very first session in August was validation that she might be on to something. Jean has bubbletrailsspent these past months working on BubbleTrails, the first in a series of bathtub games for kids. She has created and distributed surveys to end-users, developed a business plan, refined the artwork and design of the game, created additional prototypes and tested them with real users, created a website, and is currently taking pre-orders. She knows she still has a way to go before BubbleTrails is ready for distribution, but Jean is excited by the prospect of finally seeing her dream become a reality.

What is your venture and how did it come about?
Bathtub Games for Kids, Inc. creates educational board games that are waterproof and played in the bathtub by young children. Our first product is called BubbleTrails. This game makes bath time fun. It teaches children how to take a bath while learning about colors, letters, shapes, and numbers. The first child to complete the bubble trail is clean and dry, with teeth and hair brushed, PJs on, and in bed. Parents then read to their young children an enchanted story about Jessie and her golden retriever Riley called, “The Girl Who Would Never Take a Bath.” BubbleTrails helps parents create more quality time with their children and helps everyone get more sleep.

The idea for BubbleTrails just happened one day when Jessie and I were sitting at the dinner table. Our family, and our very close friends who lived next door when we were growing up, have always created lots of games. Some of them are: The Ball Game, Peggy in the Hole, Mop Pail, Bean the Man on the Moped, War, Panther Tunnels, Black Ghost and more. That’s probably why BubbleTrails just popped out.

Jessie with her brothers and dog Riley

Jessie with her brothers and dog Riley

Have you started any other businesses? Why now?
In addition to being an Enterprise Operations Manager at The Hartford Insurance Company, I also own a leadership coaching business and coach private clients part-time. Check out my landing page at http://www.jsnllc.com.

Now is a perfect time for me to start another business. My three children are now grown. Christopher is a leasing manager at several malls in NY and NJ. Ryan is in his second year of a medical residency in California. Jessie, the little girl who inspired the story, is in her first year at Hamilton College where she’s playing soccer and studying neuroscience.

What has your experience been like in TIA?
TIA has been an absolutely wonderful experience for me. I was a little concerned about being an older person in the middle of a lot of college kids but that hasn’t turned out to be an issue at all. In fact I’ve made some great friends. The mentors are very knowledgeable, experienced in creating businesses, and they care very much about our success in carrying through on our ventures. They keep us focused! That is the reason that we have come so far.

Anything else you want to add?
I am so grateful to be part of TIA and Bathtub Games for Kids, Inc. will be a successful business because of all that TIA has done.


Fair Harbor Launches Kickstarter Video by Jake Danehy ’16

By Contributing Writer on December 16, 2015
Jake Danehy '16, 2nd from left with his co-founder, Caroline Danehy '19 and two friends

Jake Danehy ’16, 2nd from left with his co-founder, Caroline Danehy ’19, 4th from left and two friends

Earlier this year we had the incredible opportunity to pitch Fair Harbor Clothing in front of the sharks at E-weekend. It was an amazing experience and one that helped give us the confidence and funds to make our business a reality. After also being selected as an Entrepreneurs Fund award winner, we took our combined awards totaling $20,000 and launched our first line of board shorts, t-shirts, and hats. The winnings allowed us to work on Fair Harbor for the entire summer and give the company our full attention. After working at the TIA incubator in Hamilton for the month of June, we moved into our new WeWork office in NYC where our first line of clothing was finally delivered. The summer was a whirlwind experience and one that we will never forget. We filmed videos, cultivated unbelievable relationships, learned a tremendous amount, and even managed to sell over 90% of our first round of board shorts; ultimately recycling a total of 5,500 plastic bottles!

Due to the success of our first line, we knew we wanted to continue Fair Harbor, so we brought on a graphic artist who helped us bring our visions into concrete designs. After months of collaborating, we are extremely excited to release seven new styles of board shorts. In addition, we are manufacturing our own short sleeve and long-sleeve shirts made from the finest and softest organic cotton in the USA.

To fund this next line we launched a Kickstarter campaign, to sell pre-orders and ultimately build our brand awareness. We launched our Kickstarter on December 1st and hosted a Kickstarter launch party at the TIA incubator on Friday December 4th. We are so thankful for the generosity and support that TIA and the rest of the Colgate community has given us; it was an amazing night! By Sunday December 6th we had already hit our initial goal of $11,000!

kickstarter videoRight now we are just under $15,000 and are trying to keep the momentum going! We need everyone’s help to make our Kickstarter an even greater success than it is now. Every sale that we make on Kickstarter helps promote our brand and ultimately keeps us in business. Please share our Kickstarter campaign with your friends, family, and relatives. We are so passionate about Fair Harbor Clothing, and everything that it stands for: clean living and the simple summer life. Every contribution helps in making sure that we keep our dream alive!

We will be shipping out our new line at the beginning of March, the perfect time for spring break.

Thank you so much, we really are so appreciative all your encouragement and loyalty to Fair Harbor Clothing. Please help us keep plastic waste out of our oceans and off of our beaches for years to come!

Sea’s The Day and Keep It Clean!

The Fair Harbor Team

Jake Danehy is currently a senior at Colgate majoring in Geography and is the co-founder & President at Fair Harbor. He is also one of the goalies on the Colgate varsity men’s lacrosse team. Jake is extremely dedicated and driven to accomplish his goals and aspirations.He is very environmentally aware and wants to make a difference in the world. Besides lacrosse, Jake also enjoys surfing, rock climbing, stand up paddle boarding, and golf.

Caroline Danehy, a first-year at Colgate is the co-founder & Chief Creative Officer at Fair Harbor.  Caroline has attended a fashion program at LIM College for several summers and has built strong relationships with many people in the fashion industry. She has had a fashion blog for four years now, and frequently updates it. Caroline is also very dedicated to the environment, and has a great respect for it.

Sam Jacobson is the co-founder and Vice-President at Fair Harbor and a senior at University of Southern California Marshall School of Business and a member of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurship. He has had experience in developing enterprises in South Africa and has helped with the launch of apps like Treats by Clinkle and Toga (formerly GreekLink) in the California. Sam is from Larchmont, NY where he grew up with the Danehys.


EverRepair – 5 Ways to Break Your Phone, 1 Way to Fix It by Francisco Flores ’17

By Contributing Writer on November 23, 2015
Francisco Flores

Francisco Flores ’17

EverRepair is an iPhone repair service founded and operated by Francisco Flores ‘17 and Daniel Martucci ‘17, through the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute. With mentorship and resources provided by TIA and the Colgate Bookstore, we were able to recently begin working out of the bookstore, offering affordable, convenient, and professional service by certified technicians for Apple repair needs.

Nowadays, the most common iPhone injury is the cracked screen. It seems as though the slightest impact can shatter an entire phone screen, making it nearly impossible to use. Here we’ve compiled five of the craziest stories students have told about breaking their phones. These stories are based on real scenarios, as told to technicians at EverRepair.

5 Ways to Break Your Phone, 1 Way to Fix It

Daniel Martucci '17

Daniel Martucci ’17

5. The Drop – “This may have been the biggest mix of stupidity and bad luck ever. I was running late for an interview in New York City when I realized I had forgotten my phone in my dorm room, on the third floor. With no time to spare, I had the passenger of my car call my roommate to drop my phone down to me…from the third story window. As I watched the iPhone falling towards me with the speed of a bullet, I freaked out, stepped aside and let it hit the ground. Luckily, it landed in the grass but after closer inspection discovered it had landed directly on a rock, shattering the entire screen and now half of the screen was black. I thought I would have to get an entirely new phone, but I had heard about EverRepair, and decided to have them check it out first. After the free diagnostic test that they offered, I got the good news that they would be able to fix it. I had a brand new iPhone within an hour!” (Colgate junior)

4. The Invincible Screen Protector – “I had just gotten my brand new iPhone 6 and decided not to spend the money on a quality case, and opted for the new tempered-glass screen protector, since they are supposed to prevent your screen from breaking, or so I thought. Later that night at a party, I was bragging about how strong the screen protector was, and to demonstrate I stood up, held out my phone and dropped it screen first, fully confident that it would be stay in perfect condition. As I picked it up, I realized that not only was the screen protector broken, but the entire screen underneath was shattered and unresponsive. I was really embarrassed, and I realized that this could be the end of my day old phone. I reached out to EverRepair and they met me the next day, fixed my phone in just one hour (after I thought it was completely done for), and even installed a new screen protector!” (Colgate sophomore)

3. The Relief Throw – “Well, I was at the library for hours upon hours finishing a research paper I had put off till the last minute, like most “responsible” college kids do on occasion. To avoid any distractions, I put my iPhone in the front pocket of my backpack and zipped it to keep it far out of reach. Coming up on hour 8 in the library, I finally finished and going to bed was the only thing on my mind. I raced home, got to my room, tossed my backpack on the ground and dove into bed. The next morning I could not find my phone for the life of me. I realized I had left it in my backpack, but when I went to retrieve it, it was completely shattered from me throwing my backpack and all of my books landing on it. The screen still worked but it was so cracked that pieces of glass were cutting my finger. I immediately scheduled an appointment with EverRepair, and they were able to fix my phone in an hour!” (Colgate senior)everrepair

2. Learn-to-Skate – “This is such a dumb story but whatever. I was at the open hours in the ice skating rink at Colgate. I am from southern California so I am obviously not a great ice skater. I was skating around when I lost control and both of my feet flew out from under me, and I slammed down on my butt. My butt hurt, but even worse, my phone was in my back pocket and the screen was shattered and different colored lines were going everywhere and I couldn’t use it! I figured I would have to drive all the way to Syracuse for someone to just look at it to potentially tell me they couldn’t do anything and I would have to get a new phone. My friend told me about a new iPhone repair service right here on campus called EverRepair. They offered a free diagnostic so, with nothing to lose, I went to them totally expecting bad news. To my surprise, they said it was an easy fix, and returned my phone in under an hour! I have never been more impressed.” (Colgate freshman)

1. The Overreaction – “It was Tuesday and nothing was going on, so we got a group of kids together to watch a scary movie. I’m really into scary movies, but this one turned out to be one of the scariest movies I have seen in a while. In one part there was a big lull and then someone popped out and my friend, anticipating the moment, screamed directly into my ear. I got so scared that I threw my phone at the wall. It was obvious that it was broken since bits of glass surrounded the phone now lying face down on the floor. Everything still worked, but the entire screen was covered with cracks. I knew I was never going to get it fixed because I didn’t have the time to drive to New Hartford. My friend referred me to EverRepair and it made things so much easier, since it’s on campus and especially since I only had to be without my phone for an hour!” (Colgate junior)

So, here’s how it works. Customers simply make an appointment with one of our certified technicians through the website, http://www.EverRepair.com/. Once the appointment is set up, the customer drops off their phone, and returns in an hour to pick up their fully repaired phone. Our service offers Colgate students and others a brand new alternative to driving hours to have their phones repaired. EverRepair also offers competitive rates compared to other repair stores located in New Hartford and Syracuse. So when you’re at school, there are countless ways to break your phone, but there is only one fast and convenient way to fix it. EverRepair. A company run by students for students!!!

Frankie Flores is a hard working junior at Colgate University, majoring in Computer Science. He comes from Tampa, FL and is the president of Theta Chi fraternity. He also DJs in his spare time.

Dan Martucci is also a junior at Colgate double majoring in Geography and History. He’s from Princeton, NJ and is also a member of Theta Chi.

A Loo for You! by Emma Loftus ’16

By Contributing Writer on October 20, 2015
Emma Loftus '16

Emma Loftus ’16

In the fall of 2014 I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. During my travels within Italy and the rest of Europe, my friends and I often wandered around in new cities looking for restrooms. Oftentimes, we were in countries where there was a major language barrier and we were unable to ask for directions. After returning home I began to realize that this problem affects people of all ages and demographics, including college students traveling on a budget, parents with young children, or people traveling on their own. It also applies to all unfamiliar settings, whether it’s on a road trip, in an unexplored part of one’s home city, or in a completely new place.

That’s where my venture comes in. A Loo for You! is an iOS application that will provide its users with maps of their location through integrated Google Maps within the app. The maps will appear with display markers that alert users of the nearest usable bathrooms.Loo

The first step to bringing my thought to actuality was to find team members with the skills I was lacking. I was able to find two teammates within the Computer Science department who have some experience in creating apps and are eager to learn more, which seemed appropriate, as this is a learning experience for me as well. My teammates are Katey Loughran ’16 and Maggie Orr ’17.

Although the idea for this application may seem simple, the actual implantation is not. It is not feasible to make maps of the entire world right away, so our test market will be New York. This will be fairly easy as there are maps for thruway rest stops and public restrooms within New York City readily available online. Our job will be to compile them and provide them in a user friendly and interactive format. We have also faced the question of whether it is appropriate to include facilities in places of business, as the bathroom is often for customers only. In the interest of creating a product quickly, we are not doing so for now. However, as our venture grows, this may come into play.

As our team further develops our product, we will include some sort of ranking system for cleanliness and amenities within the bathroom facilities. This would also include whether bathrooms have a fee associated with them, as many European public facilities do. These features will most likely include the participation of users, who can upload new locations and provide feedback.

Emma Loftus is a senior from Rochester, NY. On campus she is involved in a variety of activities such as interning in the office of communications, being an admissions tour guide, serving as the financial vice president of delta delta delta, and participating in the senior class gift committee. 


Oak Atkinson ’87: Touching Hearts One by One with tumbalina

By Contributing Writer on September 21, 2015
Oak Atkinson Colgate class of '87

Oak Atkinson ’87

My company is tumbalina. Our mission is “Touching hearts one by one.” My job is to make people smile. When we are really successful, we make someone shed a tear of joy. We happen to do this by way of greeting cards and it’s a fun way to make a living. So, how did I get here?

Well, I’m not easily satisfied. I raise the bar as fast as I achieve a goal. I really don’t consider myself successful, but I guess others think differently and asked me to join TIA Entrepreneurship Institute. It’s a real honor. To give back to Colgate and to “pay it forward,” as the saying goes. It’s also fun. Oh yeah, so how did I get here?

A little background. Both of my parents were from Korea but I spent my childhood in a little Ugandan town called Masaka where my dad was the local surgeon. With no gift shops in town, I started designing and making cards as a little girl. I never imagined that one day I would make my living running an award-winning card company.

From Uganda we ended up in NYC and I was fortunate to be admitted to Colgate, class of 1987. After college, I joined my favorite catalog company, J.Crew, where I was responsible for advertising and customer acquisition. Then on to Avon Products, I launched the company’s first consumer catalog and directed the marketing, merchandising, and creative. Somewhere in between, I got my MBA from Fordham. After that, I ended up at Gannett newspapers as the Advertising Development Director. My last corporate job was with an upscale travel company, Tauck, where I headed up the marketing and creative departments. I did not enjoy all of these jobs but each added a different experience and tools that prepared me to start my own company. So after a long journey, I went back to my passion of making people smile in creative ways. That was the smartest thing I’ve done in my career.card visual-01_opt

In my first year of business, in 2003, we won several industry awards, including a “Louie”, (the Oscars of the stationery industry), and the American Package Design Award. From there it’s been off to the races. This past year we sold over $18 million worth of cards online for clients like Snapfish, Walgreens, and Walmart.

So, what does this have to do with Colgate? Good question. Well, I assure you it has everything to do with Colgate. A liberal arts education — especially a COLGATE liberal arts education — gave me the broad perspective to use both sides of my brain, to combine the creative and business acumen to be a successful entrepreneur. And because Colgate really challenged me (sometimes to the point of self-doubt and tears!), I was not only given the tools but the spirit to succeed. And there’s nothing more instrumental to success than believing that you can achieve your dreams.

If there’s a lesson in my story that I want to convey as a TIA mentor, it is that you must both welcome and overcome challenges. And you also must have aspirations — passions, goals, whatever you want to call it; a reason to pop out of bed in the morning. Simply put, pursue your dreams…and persevere.


Erica Pais ’17 on making connections through baking

By Contributing Writer on August 19, 2015
Erica Pais '17

Erica Pais ’17

From my experience in the Thought Into Action Student Incubator, I have learned a great deal. This past year I realized that creating and running a business from the ground-up, especially as a nineteen-year-old, full-time college student, is no simple task. However, because of the support, advice, and dedication from incredible family, experienced mentors, and friends always hungry for surplus cupcakes, I can now say that my business, Baking Connections, has seen growth and success over the past year. Thanks to my TIA experience, along with my undying love of food and its magical unifying capabilities, I saw my dreams transform into reality. At our sessions, I introduced Colgate students to Hamilton residents and taught individuals with no baking experience how to perfect cookie dough topped brownies and apple pie cupcakes, among other desserts. Nothing has made me feel more like a ‘real adult’ than receiving my very own business cards that say ‘Erica Pais: Owner & CEO’.

After a year of generating ideas, improving upon a business plan, and seeing my baking aspirations turn into a tangible success, I had an incredible experience at E-Weekend in April. Finally able to share Baking Connections (along with 100 cupcakes and 250 cookies) with the greater Colgate community, I had the opportunity to speak with countless alumni, parents, and students about my hopes for the future of the business. The flood of support thatBaking_Connections_FIN_CMYK visitors to my table showed was overwhelming, in the best way, and I was even happier when I saw people enjoying my homemade baked goods. Many alumni had great comments, suggestions, and questions that made me think out of the box. One alum in particular has stayed in contact and continues to dedicate time to correspond over email in order help me think of ways to grow Baking Connections over the long term.

My experience with Baking Connections in TIA further fueled my curiosity about start-ups and nonprofits. This summer, I interned at tilt (The Institute for Leadership and Training) and Community Servings in Boston. At both placements I succeeded, in part, thanks to my TIA experience. tilt is a start-up that provides mental toughness training and leadership development for college athletes. As a business development intern, I drew significantly from our lessons about branding and marketing in order to help create a social media campaign and work on a variety of projects to enhance the brand. My second internship complemented the start-up experience nicely. Community Servings, a Boston-based nonprofit organization, prepares and delivers meals to Massachusetts residents who are living with life-threatening illnesses and are too sick to cook for themselves and their families (among other program initiatives). As the communications intern, I saw, in action, the importance of topics we covered in TIA, such as meaningful networking, building a personal brand, and fulfilling a market need. Working at Community Servings was an incredible opportunity for me because the organization marries two aspects that I hope to encapsulate with Baking Connections: cooking and social justice.

I am so excited to return to campus in the spring and bring what I learned this summer to Baking Connections. Overall, it was a summer well spent, getting some valuable work experience that will help propel my venture to the next level. Thanks to my TIA training, I always felt confident in sharing my ideas at both organizations. This summer has been a great reminder of how much TIA has given to me and taught me.

Erica Pais is a rising junior from Sharon, MA and a Sociology major/Educational Studies minor. On campus, she interns at Career Services, co-leads the COVE American Heart Association Club, works as a tour guide, and is an active member of both the Club Volleyball Team and Colgate Jewish Union. Erica will study abroad this fall in Florence, Italy.