In the second part of our exclusive Q&A with longtime CED president Monica Doss, the WRAL TechWire Hall of Fame inductee discusses why she remains involved in startups and stresses that our state’s future rests on new and emerging companies – not just in tech.
- Why do you remain involved in New City Ventures? What do you hope to achieve with this new group?
I joined up with April Harris, New City Ventures founder about 18 months ago after two years as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Wake Forest Innovations, the commercialization engine for Wake Forest Baptist Hospital. New City Ventures work with communities and companies to build entrepreneurial capacity.
Our sweet spot is the intersection of entrepreneurial and community development. We don’t do 3-ring binders; we deploy on-the-ground programming and customer engagement so clients can identify and understand their entrepreneurs prior to planning facilities like maker spaces, coworking spaces, accelerators, incubators or other support resources like seed/angel funds.
We also activate existing spaces, like HQ Greensboro, with programming. We’re often working with revitalized historical mills or downtown buildings. Our mission is to make these projects meaningful for the developer, the community and the entrepreneurs from Day 1.
- There are hundreds of startups in the Triangle alone while the Triad, Wilmington and Charlotte have growing hubs. What factors are driving this growth?
The best regional “new economies” are both transformative AND organic.
They are built upon the character, culture and know-how of a place, amped with innovation, some entrepreneurs and fresh thinking.
Kauffman Foundation data has validated that startups are the sources of new jobs, which has helped convince city councils and community leaders to get on board. Millennials look at careers less statically and startup costs are low.
The Triad and Charlotte were shaken up by the recession, but their talent bases remained. It’s the “rise of the rest” and communities are building entrepreneurial communities based on their strengths.
- How important is entrepreneurship to NC’s future in your view?
It IS North Carolina’s future and not just for the high tech, high growth startup.
For example, in my current work at New City Ventures in the Triad and communities where textiles and furniture were manufactured we’re finding that those industries are re-emerging, often by industry insiders who value legacy, history, and local talent. They are new entrepreneurs, using technology to disrupt legacy business models and product development.
- On a personal note, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Garden, drink good wine with family and friends and read or listen to books Audible. I’ve started writing for pleasure again – non fiction — so we’ll see where that goes.
- Who are your personal heroes and why?
Barack and Michelle Obama because of their brains, courage, humor and grace. Matthew Szulik, Christy Shaffer, Sally Shuping Russell.
I revere courage.
NOTE: Part one of the Q&A is available online.