020 NC IDEA: Supporting Entrepreneurs Through Grant Funding, Mentorship, and Programming with President and CEO, Thom Ruhe

By Supportedly

Podcast Show Notes

Thom joins me today to share his journey and how he got involved with NC IDEA. He explains the programs and grants that are available for entrepreneurs and startups and how the programs help entrepreneurs at various stages of their business development journey. He also explains why the organization created NC IDEA SOAR – a program for female entrepreneurs. I also spoke with Dipak to learn what inspired him to start SeaChange Technologies and how vital the NC IDEA programs were for starting and scaling his company.


“It’s a privilege to do the work that we do. The status of a non-profit affords you a great freedom to do things and to take risks in the market that nobody else is incentivized to do.” – Thom Ruhe

This week on the Supportedly Podcast:


  • Thom’s transition to working with NC IDEA and the company’s ideology.
  • How the NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM grant partner program supports entrepreneurs in North Carolina.
  • How the NC IDEA SEED grants help early-stage companies with funding, mentorship, and guidance so that they can scale their companies faster.
  • How young companies or entrepreneurs with a concept can be awarded a $10K grant from the NC IDEA MICRO program.
  • How the NC IDEA LABS four-week curriculum helps entrepreneurs focus on customer discovery and moving a company forward.
  • Why the NC IDEA SOAR program was created for female entrepreneurs.
  • The community-focused NC IDEA ENGAGE program that brings like-minded entrepreneurs together.
  • The questions entrepreneurs should ask before connecting with NC IDEA.
  • What SeaChange Technologies is and what inspired Dipak to start the company.
  • How SeaChange Technologies is helping companies deal with contaminated wastewater.
  • How he found NC IDEA and what motivated him to participate in the programs.
  • How the NC IDEA programs helped SeaChange Technologies and how they became a SEED grant recipient.
  • The advice that he would give to a young entrepreneur.


“Be totally open. Trust the process and the people. The folks at NC IDEA know what they are doing. They have seen entrepreneurs fail and succeed. They know what works and what doesn’t work.” – Dipak Mahato


Free & Low-Cost Programs at NC IDEA:



Connect with Thom Ruhe:


Connect with Dipak Mahato:



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Podcast Guests

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Thom Ruhe President and CEO, NC IDEA

Thom Ruhe is the President and CEO of NC IDEA, a private foundation that helps entrepreneurs strengthen, start, and develop their ideas and achieve their full entrepreneurial potential through a variety of programs such as NC IDEA LABSNC IDEA SEED, and NC IDEA ENGAGE. Prior to working with NC IDEA, Thom worked with companies such as the Kauffman Foundation and Jumpstart Inc, directing programs to address entrepreneurial education, mentoring, raising capital, and fostering the entrepreneurial ecosystem. He is frequently quoted in major media publications including Forbes, The New York Times,and WSJ.

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Dipak Mahato Founder and CEO , SeaChange Technologies

Dipak Mahato is the Founder and CEO of SeaChange Technologies, a company that provides sustainable solutions for wastewater purification. Dipak is a research and development leader with expertise in developing disruptive and innovative technologies. He is an award-winning entrepreneur with a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Irvine.

Podcast Host

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Steph Kissel

I utilize my background and expertise in project leadership to find creative operational solutions every day. I’m passionate about great ideas and inspired by the entrepreneurs who bring them to life (ever seen someone cry happy tears over your prototype?). I'm fortunate to work with people who share my passions and inspire me every day. Together, we're working non-stop to create cool things that empower entrepreneurs and business owners, like Supportedly.com, the place to find entrepreneurial support programs, events, and actionable content like The Supportedly Podcast. To all the providers and entrepreneurs they support, thanks for letting me tell your stories, and if you’re reading this, I hope we’ve helped make your entrepreneurial journey just a little be easier and maybe even more exciting!

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