Doug Speight, a Durham entrepreneur whose family has roots in Bull City businesses dating back several decades, is turning over his own startup. Why? He’s starting a new job as executive director of the American Underground.

And Speight is thrilled about the opportunity, he says, in an exclusive Q&A.

Speight was named to replace Adam Klein on Thursday as Klein takes on a new role with AU parent company Capitol Broadcasting.

[By the way, Speight was one of WRAL TechWire’s Editor’s Choice awards earlier this year.]

Our Q&A:

  • Congrats, Doug. What excites you most about this new role?

There is a lot to be excited about. Among them, I’m very excited about joining a phenomenal AU team that creates better outcomes than any tech hub in the country!

I’m also excited about extending AU’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, engaging even more women founders and founders of color throughout the region and country.

  • What happens to your startup company? Who takes over? Will you keep any involvement?

Cathedral Leasing will continue to operate under the leadership of our current Chief Operating Officer, Brad Jenkins, who will assume the role of CEO.

I am transitioning to Chairman of the Board of Directors and will support the team through this transition and resultant restructuring.

  • What will be the biggest challenges in replacing Adam?

Adam can never be “replaced.” His vision, execution, team-building and leadership have all been extraordinary. My biggest challenge is to continue the momentum and build on an AU platform that enables us to provide even stronger programs and support for entrepreneurs at each stage of growth.

Propelling AU to even loftier heights nationally and globally will be challenging, but this team is up to it.

  • What will be your primary/most important mission be in your new role?

Working directly with founders and their teams is an AU hallmark. Engagement within our tech community is why AU is the Startup Hub of the South. That is currently and will continue to be the most important component of my role.

  • How will this role as manager of a growing but established operation differ from being an entrepreneur?

The two are more similar than they are different. Both core strategies center around maintaining a keen focus on the customer.

In AU’s case, this means focus on founders and teams of scalable tech startups and then conceiving and executing the programs and resource they need in order to succeed.

  • Do you believe you are ready for the change and challenges?

A founder faces a myriad of challenges in envisioning, launching, building and scaling a tech company.

I’m in a unique position to use my experiences across four startups and my tech commercialization background to aid and support our community of entrepreneurs to aid their growth and success.