Venture Asheville Becomes Eleventh Grantee of Foundation’s Ecosystem Partner Program

DURHAM, NC – June 22, 2017 – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial business innovation and economic advancement in North Carolina, announced today that it has awarded an eleventh grant in its Ecosystem Partner Program to Venture Asheville, in Asheville, NC. The Foundation’s Ecosystem Partner Program has committed over $1.3M in funding to organizations throughout the state that support entrepreneurs and promote entrepreneurship.

The grant to Venture Asheville will directly support the organization’s Elevate program. Elevate, modeled after MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service, enables startup entrepreneurs to simultaneously navigate the practical day-to-day challenges of building great companies and develop their skills as effective managers, leaders and CEOs through monthly team mentoring sessions and office hours with specialized mentors. Elevate program participants learn how to perfect their products and services; identify, enter and grow new markets; build business organizations; and seek funding from corporate executives at the likes of Microsoft, IBM and Verizon and successful startup executives at fast-growing companies such as Grammarly, Sprinklr and Bitglass. To date, Elevate has impacted 26 startups supported by over 55 mentors.

“We are committed to a statewide effort to strengthen the resources and services available to entrepreneurs,” said Thom Ruhe, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “The Ecosystem Partner Program is showing early encouragement that a coordinated statewide effort will yield greater results; so we are pleased our mountain region is now well represented in this grant to Venture Asheville,” Ruhe concluded.

Venture Asheville Director of Entrepreneurship Josh Dorfman commented, “Working with NC IDEA and others in the Ecosystem Partner Program, we will generate more companies that can effectively compete in any region of the state, or nation for that matter.” “We look forward to coordinating more activities with NC IDEA and elevating the visibility of the many entrepreneurial opportunities in Asheville,” Dorfman concluded.

is a private foundation committed to supporting business innovation and economic advancement in North Carolina. Today, the organization fulfills this mission through four initiatives. The Ecosystem Partner Grant program funds organizations across the state that execute creative programs to support entrepreneurs. Over the last decade, the Seed Grant program has awarded over $5M to 120 high-growth companies across the state. Since 2011, more than 130 companies have participated in the Groundwork Labs startup program. SoarTriangle, a program founded in 2012 to address the proven funding gap for female entrepreneurs, formally became a foundation program in August 2016. Learn more at

About Venture Asheville
Venture Asheville’s mission is to rapidly grow Asheville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, nurture and strengthen high-growth ventures and transform Asheville into a world-class startup city. Venture Asheville is the high-growth entrepreneurship initiative of the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. Their work centers on catalyzing Asheville’s high-growth entrepreneurial ecosystem and connecting entrepreneurs with startup funding, mentors and talent to scale their ventures. Learn more at