“Thought Into Action” Returns for a Third Year



Matthew Knowles

Most ideas die on the vine before they ever come to fruition. The fact is, coming up with a promising idea for a business is the easy part. The hard part is the implementation. Fortunately for Colgate students, the “Thought Into Action” Institute is back for its third year, and it is ready to help students make their plans a reality. “Thought Into Action” meets once a month on Saturdays and is intended to offer guidance to all aspiring entrepreneurs in the Colgate community.

The Institute is headed by Wills Hapworth, a Colgate alumnus (‘07) and young entrepreneur. His experiences with both Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank have given him many insights into the business world. Three years ago, the Institute itself was just a “thought” in the mind of alumnus and serial entrepreneur Andy Greenfield ‘74. Each month, alumni share experiences from their entrepreneurial pursuits with the nearly sixty students currently enrolled in the Institute. An alumnus begins each class by discussing topics in which he specializes. Then, the large group breaks into smaller sections headed by two alumni “mentors.” In the smaller sections and with the help of the mentors, students update each other on their projects and lend advice on how each can best move forward.

Topics covered in the “Thought Into Action” Institute include a wide range of personal and professional skills all entrepreneurs should maintain.

They range from branding and knowing one’s limits to surviving in the difficult economy. Mentors are typically Colgate alumni, such as Bob Gold, CEO of Ridgewood Capital, and Morgan Dunbar, founder of Best Execution Comparison Service. The job of a mentor is not to hold the students’ hands, but to allow them to make their own mistakes and then offer helpful hints about how problems can be avoided in the future.


“I really think it works better that way,” Hapworth said. “The mentors could tell them how to run their projects, but this is usually how the students learn best.”

Aguably the best part about “Thought Into Action” is that these are not just pet projects used only for practice and experience. Many people from previous years have turned their fledgling ideas into their full-time jobs. For example, Maggie Dunn, a former “Thought Into Action” student, created the Lakota Pine Ridge Children’s Enrichment Project during her time at Colgate and continues her work every day. Also, if you have ever eaten the Colgate Community Garden vegetables at Frank Dining Hall, you have partaken in the “fruits” of the labors of former “Thought Into Action” students.


“One of the best things about this program is that, during a time of financial worry, we can give people the tools to start their own businesses and overcome these challenges,” Hapworth said.


Another interesting feature of “Thought Into Action” Institute is their website, www.tiainstitute.com. Although it is in its beginning stages, it is constantly being updated with new features and capabilities. On the website, one can browse the various mentors who are participating in the program, see student projects and interact with students about their projects in comment feeds. This way, one can easily see the sheer ambition possessed by these students and their bright futures ahead of them. As Hapworth states on his website, this program is not for the faint of heart. It requires the sacrifice of one Saturday a month and is worth no school credit. However, if you have the ambition and the inspiration, “Thought Into Action” might be a perfect way to get a head start in entering the business world.


Contact Matthew Knowles at [email protected]