TIA Hosts Colgate Grad Turned Entrepreneur


Successful summit series:  Charlie Lambropoulos  ‘07 returns to campus to provide insight on entrepreneurship. 

To help students learn applicable and useful knowledge for the emerging entrepreneurial world, Colgate University’s Thought Into Action (TIA) Entrepreneurship Institute is inviting professionals from all areas of the business world to give advice and words of wisdom to the Colgate community. TIA Alumni Executive Director Wills Hapworth ’07 briefly described the program’s new

Summit Series.

“This is kind of a new program that we’re doing, where we’re bringing in really cool people to talk about the stuff that they’ve done in the entrepreneurial world,” Hapworth said.

On September 26, the TIA Summit Series welcomed Charlie Lambropoulos ’07 to share his struggles and experiences within the entrepreneurial world. After graduating from Colgate, Lambropoulos entered a financial firm in Whippany, NJ. His decision to enter the financial world was influenced by his perceived tendency of Colgate students to go into finance.

“When I was here, one thing that I thought was kind of a bummer was I didn’t really know there were other jobs out there; I just assumed everyone worked in finance after going to Colgate,” Lambropoulos said.

Unhappy with his job in New Jersey, Lambropoulos contacted a former soccer teammate’s brother who suggested making the move to the west coast to work at a start-up job. Within two weeks of flying to Los Angeles and scoping out the potential start-up businesses,

Lambropoulos quit his job and moved permanently to California as an employee of the Rubicon

Project, an L.A.-based advertising technology company.

“That company was probably eight months old and I think I was the twentieth employee. I was working there for about a year and a half … It was [a] super start-up. I think they watched ‘Animal House’ and were like, ‘Okay, let’s do this,’” Lambropoulos said.

After gaining crucial experience and knowledge about the ad technology world, Lambropoulos left the Rubicon Project to work remotely for a company in San Francisco called Optimal Social. Lambropoulos cites this work experience as essential to his success as an entrepreneur, as it allowed him to learn information that would later enable him to start his own company.

“Before I had a high-level understanding of all of this ad-technology stuff, this is the company where I actually got in the weeds and did a lot of the really detail-oriented stuff and really learned a lot of the product minutia of this ad-technology industry,” Lambropoulos said. 

“While all of that is incredibly boring to do, I think this was really the most important step for me getting to the point of starting a company, because otherwise I would have had no idea what I was doing.”

Lambropoulos eventually put this carefully obtained information into practice when he and several friends started an ad network, Ocean Park Interactive. In what he described as his “first foray” into running a company, Lambropoulos learned valuable lessons about the initial set-up of a business.

“One thing we didn’t know very much about was law contracts, accounting and all of these awful things that you have to deal with, which are incredibly important. One lesson that I learned was that, if you don’t set up your accounting and your frameworks and the way you’re tracking everything right up front, you are going to run into a world of hurt at the end of the year when the tax man calls,” Lambropoulos said.

Eventually, Lambropoulos and several business partners started LYFE Mobile, a technology program that allows advertisers to buy and bid on advertisements in real time. Many years of hard work and disappointment led to this now-successful platform.

“I think that, without all of the previous successes and failures I faced while working in this industry, I wouldn’t have had enough detail and information to [build my own platform],”

Lambropoulos said.

After spending several years establishing LYFE Mobile, Lambropoulos and his partners were successful in selling their company. In a long and arduous process that Lambropoulos described as the most difficult part of his journey, LYFE Mobile was acquired by a video-searching company, Blinkx.

Lambropoulos attributes much of his entrepreneurial success to the lessons he learned while playing soccer at Colgate.

“Soccer was really beneficial for me because it kept me organized and disciplined,” Lambropoulos said.

Though he experienced success on Colgate’s soccer fields, Lambropoulos emphasized the tremendous satisfaction that comes with succeeding in post-graduate endeavors.

“Winning a soccer game against Navy in the rain is a great feeling for an hour. It’s great to look back on those memories, but I think since this is a bigger, longer task that took a lot of grit, it’s something that I really feel very satisfied and confident about because it was a huge task and we somehow managed to do it,” Lambropoulos said.

Lambropoulos also acknowledged the risk of becoming an entrepreneur. Although he graduated Colgate without the explicit intention of founding his own company and selling it, he emphasized the importance of

following life’s journey. 

“I never started out intending to be an entrepreneur. I think this road of windy steps, just kind of getting into a new industry that was just emerging, just kind of led me there,” Lambropoulos said.