Pete Meets… Thom Ruhe, CEO of NC IDEA

[Editor’s Note: Thanks to the Pete Meets… season sponsor, TriNet.]

It’s not every day that you get to pick the brain of the man behind NC IDEA, the Durham-based support org that promotes entrepreneurship across the state, especially through its grant programs. But on this week’s Pete Meets… episode, Pete sat down with the NC IDEA leader himself, Thom Ruhe.

Before his time as CEO and President of NC IDEA, Ruhe worked at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, where he also supported entrepreneurship in educational programs and focused on entrepreneurship ecosystem growth. Now, Ruhe takes the Pete Meets… spotlight to discuss everything from the pandemic’s impact on NC IDEA, the value of equity funding versus grants and the “h” in his first name.

Four Highlights

— There might be one silver lining to the pandemic for NC IDEA. Forced to take an online approach in the beginning of March, NC IDEA was just in the middle of its spring grant cycle, but listen ahead as to why a virtual program worked better in some ways for entrepreneurs across the state. [5:00]

— Ruhe mentions a unique history of entrepreneurship we feel in the United States, but the rest of the world is waking up to it too. Ruhe’s advice concerns continuing to evolve and staying hungry as the competition only increases. [27:07]

— Where does the Triangle stack up? Given his experience around the country and world, Ruhe is uniquely positioned to compare the Triangle to other tech and entrepreneurship ecosystems. As he puts it: “I’m not down here by accident.” [41:00]

— The coronavirus pandemic has affected businesses in a variety of ways, but what is Ruhe’s take on how it’s affecting nonprofits like NC IDEA? [45:13] “What do we earn the privilege to be not taxed for. And if it isn’t to respond in times like now, then what is it?”

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About Suzanne Blake 94 Articles
Suzanne profiles startups and innovation for GrepBeat. She is also a junior studying journalism and political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Reach Suzanne at suzanne@grepbeat.com.