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Alumnus Has App-etite for Building Business

Ben Sharf ’15 had options his senior year at Colgate University. Pro hockey was one possibility, another was a corporate job. He did neither, instead starting his own company, Platter, an app bundle designed to improve Shopify store results.

As a Colgate freshman he played in only eight games, so there were no thoughts of pro hockey at that time.

“Fast forward to my senior year, and I led my team in points,” Ben said. “I signed with an agent midway through the season and talked to a bunch of pro teams and recognized that playing pros was possible. We beat Brown in overtime the first round of the [2020 ECAC] playoffs, and two days later the associate athletic director walked into the locker room and a tear came down his face, and he told us our season was over because of COVID.”

In effect so were Ben’s hockey dreams. But he had a corporate job lined up. Until he decided that would was not for him.

“For me it came down to recognizing I wanted to live my life for me and not for what other people thought I should be doing,” Ben said. “There is nothing wrong with taking the safe route, but I have always operated under the assumption that regret hurts a lot more than failure.”

He said he got that corporate job because he “fell into the trap of doing what everyone else around you is doing.”

He knew something was wrong.

“After I got the job, I was not fulfilled or excited,” Ben said. “I almost got the same feeling as I would get, you know, the Sunday scaries in college, that tomorrow is Monday, and it is time to go back to school. I said I don’t want to have that feeling in my work life.”

Ben already had an entrepreneurial spirit back in his Loomis Chaffee days. As a senior, he and another student worked on a Senior Project together, building a mobile app that would allow people to meet at events, potentially building a relationship through their common interests.

Ben said Loomis was instrumental in getting him to this point in his life.

“It not only forced me — but allowed me — to become more independent at a young age,” he said. “Learning to become self-sustaining and dealing with problems earlier in your life than a lot of people helped set me up for being an entrepreneur, which is just solving problems all day.”

The name Platter took four attempts to conceive.

“We give you the opportunity to use a lot of different things under one umbrella, but you are not forced to use everything. So I look at the concept as pick your platter. We’ll give you all the options, and you can pick and choose what you want to use and how to use it. Our job is to help give you the guardrails and help you craft the experience but not force you [into] how to do it. And if you look at our website [], you’ll see our branding has a Rubik’s Cube and Lego vibe because putting together an [e-commerce] store is like putting together a block.”

Ben Sharf, Colgate hockey

Ben Sharf played in all 36 games as a senior for Colgate prior to the cancellation of the ECAC Tournament in 2020. He had a team-leading 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists). His accolades were many: Whit Williams Award as the program's most improved player, Best Offensive Player for being the team's top scorer, and named to the ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team.

The company employs 15 people and was profitable in the first quarter of 2024, Ben said. One of the investors is Neville Bowers ’01, a former Loomis Chaffee Trustee with a similar entrepreneurial spirit. Neville, who worked at Facebook for nine years and has co-founded companies, was a mentor to Ben years before becoming an investor in Platter.

Ben said he also talked with Jason Karp ’94, another former Loomis Chaffee Trustee who has founded companies.

“I greatly appreciate these people who are super successful and willing to give their time,” Ben said. “As a young, aspirational kid, it was something that resonated with me for a long time.”

Ben has some advice for Loomis students who have an entrepreneurial spirit.

“Chase your curiosities,” he said. “One of the beautiful parts of being a kid — even before you're at Loomis — is the world cultivates this concept of creativity where you see little kids running around in fields with nothing but their imagination. Then when you get older, you are put into these different groups and environments, and a lot of it trumps your creativity and curiosity because you're following what a lot of other people are telling you.”

He said people need to be willing to go against social norms. “If someone tells you you're crazy, that is not a bad thing,” he said. It’s part of being an entrepreneur. “Everyone tells you that you’re crazy and that your idea is bad until it finally works. Then everyone tells you how great it is and thinks you're a genius — the same people who told you it wasn't going to work and needed to wait for that social validation.”

Ben lives in New York City, which he said is a great environment for starting a business. It’s chaos and energy, he said, but you have to take time to take care of yourself, too.

He enjoys staying fit, running, boxing, traveling, taking in some stand-up comedy.

“And I love business-building,” he said. “I’m such a nerd about it, and to be honest I just love adventures. I'm a very curious, spontaneous person, so I find fulfillment in just chasing my curiosities. That can mean a lot of different things. I am someone who has a short attention span for things I am not interested in.”


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