Trustee Brion Applegate Reflects on Colgate

Brion Applegate ’76, was a two-year starter on the Colgate football team, three-year starter on the Rugby team, member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity and member of the Konosioni Senior Honor Society. He is currently a trustee of Colgate where he is focused on athlet-ics and endowment management. Apple-gate’s passion for Colgate and its athletics is evidenced by his continuing involve-ment in and dedication to the Colgate community.

“Being a student athlete at Colgate, quite frankly has meant everything in the world to my life and career,” Applegate said. He credits the contacts and network of friends, teammates and coaches, the tough experiences he went through as an athlete and reputation that Colgate student athletes have for substantially shaping his career.

Applegate highlighted three moments in his career where being not only a stu-dent athlete, but being a Colgate stu-dent athlete, meant everything in the world to him. The first of these mo-ments happened just a few years after graduating Colgate.

Applegate was looking to apply to business school and needed strong recom-mendations to finish his application. The year previously, his Colgate football coach had moved to be an assistant coach to the Harvard football team.

Applegate’s former coach wrote him a passionate letter and personally walked it to the Dean of Admissions’ office in the business school. The coach sat down and said, “I’m not leaving until you tell me that [Brion Applegate] is admitted.”

A few years later, Applegate wanted to be a venture capitalist. This industry is a tough business to break into. Applegate was lucky enough to be interviewed by a man who was a huge college sports fan who especially loved Colgate. This man explained how Colgate graduates always had an excellent balance of IQ and EQ. They were strong competitors who re-fused to fight in a “sharp elbowed” or mean way.

He complimented Colgate gradu-ates on their critical thinking skills, and the ability to write and speak elo-quently. These hallmarks of liberal arts, and more importantly, a Colgate education have served Applegate well throughout his career. He ended up be-ing hired and spent the first 13 years of his career as a venture capitalist with this firm.

Applegate learned all about life, busi-ness and investment because of the man who initially interviewed him. He en-courages all Colgate students to do what he was very lucky to do: find a great men-tor. Find someone who is a knowledge-able expert in their field and more impor-tantly, someone who has time and energy for you.

13 years after graduating business school, Applegate felt restless at his job and realized it was time to branch out and start his own business. He had to leave everything behind, all the econom-ics and connections he had gathered at his old job stayed put.

In 1993, Applegate started a small office at home, looking to invest in en-tertainment, media and Internet endeav-ors. The critical thinking and pattern recognition skills he learned at Colgate allowed him to see this unexplored niche in the market.

It took a year and a half to raise funds. He visited 660 investors all across the country and the world. Applegate was told no 630 times. Rejection was tough and raising the first round of funding was brutal. But 30 people did say yes, and af-ter 18 grueling months he was set up to start his business.

The work ethic he learned from Col-gate athletics along with the opportunity to analyze patterns and synthesize data are what led him to success.

Applegate leaves us with a couple key pieces of advice: as you go forth out into the working world or into gradu-ate school, show up on time, be pre-pared and have a smile on your face. Constantly have a good work ethic, do what’s asked and then everything else you can. Compete. Compete as hard as you have on the sports field, but com-pete in that unique Colgate way, not in a snarky or mean way. Lastly, have fun and be humble.

Applegate included one final reminder – in order to enjoy your time at Colgate, all you need to do is remember three little words: “Old Stone Jug!”

Contact Belle Stepien at [email protected].