Thought Into Action Holds Virtual Showcase

Thought Into Action (TIA) entrepreneurship program’s annual venture showcase has been converted to a virtual format given Colgate’s adaption to virtual instruction. Launched April 18, the website consists of a grid of project logos and quick descriptions that lead to project pages, and each of these features a video pitch and introduces the team and their wants. According to Director of TIA Carolyn Strobel, alumni and other members of the Colgate community can easily contact each team to offer insight and experience based on these wants. 

Strobel explained that the idea behind the virtual showcase was to provide a centralized location to display the teams while recreating the annual in-person entrepreneurship weekend experience, where each team has a booth for visitors to learn about their company.

“We launched the showcase…through an email announcement to both campus communities, so all students, faculty, and staff, and then around 4,000 alumni, parents and community members who have past engagement with TIA or are employed in an entrepreneurial capacity. We saw over 1,500 page views to the site on that first day and we saw quite a number of connections coming in through the website,” Strobel said.

TIA participant sophomore Bonnie Chin said that despite a lack of alumni responses, she felt like the Virtual Showcase still offered benefits.

“I think that in true entrepreneurship fashion, adapting to a virtual showcase has been a great way to see everyone else’s ventures!” Chin said. “While my team hasn’t received any responses yet, the continued support from my mentors and fellow entrepreneurs at TIA has been great. I am excited to continue growing my venture, ‘Bee Tea,’ with my team, and to see how all of the other ventures will progress from here!”

Sophomore Hunter Duapras said he also has yet to receive any responses from visitors to the virtual showcase. His project, “PEAK,” is a University Baggage Company that aims to improve networking in airports.

“It’s very different, I’m not sure how it’s going for everyone. So far, I haven’t had any luck [with] people who could help me with my venture, but there are a lot of ventures so it’s hard. It’s way less interactive, and if an alumnus gives you feedback then you can start a conversation, but it’s hard to engage with anyone now,” Duapras said.

Sophomore Grace Klein has not received any responses yet, but she did notice an increase in website views. 

“I don’t know any of the analytics [of the Virtual Showcase website], but I can see that on the first day our website got 10 views,” Klein said.

Klein also expanded on the benefits of TIA and the Virtual Showcase.

“I like doing TIA because it’s been really cool to see what an idea can become, and you get to learn professional skills. [The] challenge of doing the Virtual Showcase was a pretty cool experience because it forced me to step out of my comfort zone and do things that I hadn’t really done before,” Klein said.

Despite the lack of responses received by the students interviewed, some ventures have managed to make meaningful connections through the virtual showcase. 

“[Junior] James Nash had a great follow up conversation with an alumna who reached out via the showcase. [Seniors] Tess Bedingfield and Ruth Kissel also received a number of connections through the showcase,” Strobel said. 

According to Strobel, navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship during the COVID-19 pandemic offers skills and learning opportunities beyond the scope of the regularly scheduled Spring Showcase. Amidst uncertainty, TIA continues planning for the fall semester through a focus on recruiting. 

“We’re looking for students who are really passionate about a certain problem or challenge that they see. In TIA it’s a lot less about having that perfect idea because so much of the experience is working with their mentors and working through figuring out the best approach to that problem. We also have students working on such a variety of ventures, so whether it is a true business idea or whether it’s something more socially impact-focused in the non-profit space – so your idea can really be in so many different areas,” Strobel said.