ASHEVILLE – In a letter sent out to Venture Asheville newsletter subscribers last week, Executive Director Josh Dorfman revealed a career change—he would be leaving the organization to enter a new leadership position at The Collider, an Asheville nonprofit working to spearhead climate innovation in Western North Carolina and beyond.

The Collider, headquartered in a 6,000 square-foot downtown building, offers coworking and meeting space and hosts regular community events and industry conferences including the recent ClimateCon. Its members represent several areas in the climate sector, ranging from sustainability organizations such as Asheville on Bikes and Climate Listening Project to solutions providers and networks like American Association of State Climatologists and Earth Resources Technology. Asheville has emerged as a hub for climate information over the years due in large part to the fact the city is the host for NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

The Collider

Starting May 1, Dorfman will join The Collider as its CEO. He intends to expand the organization’s position in helping further global climate data innovation by reaching more companies that are building weather and climate technology, bringing new industry events to Asheville and offering more support programs to service entrepreneurs in this market.

Next month marks yet another chapter in Dorfman’s longtime career in sustainability entrepreneurship, which dates back to the early-2000s when he founded and served as CEO of Vivavi, an eco-friendly furniture retailer in Brooklyn. He later created and hosted The Lazy Environmentalist, a Sundance Channel show about green living, and then went on to be the site leader of, an ecommerce site for sustainably produced products.

Since 2014, Dorfman has brought his experience in the sustainability market to his role in leading the growth of Venture Asheville’s entrepreneurship programming.

An initiative launched by Asheville’s Economic Development Coalition and Chamber of Commerce, Venture Asheville is a central hub for Western North Carolina entrepreneurs to get the support and resources they need to accelerate their companies. This includes connecting entrepreneurs to local events, business development resources and to each other.

Venture Asheville also introduces entrepreneurs to investment opportunities and mentorship through its two flagship programs, both of which were established and led by Dorfman:

  • Elevate, a program based on MIT’s Venutre Mentoring Service, offers expert guidance and mentorship to entrepreneurs of early-stage startups. Companies that have participated in the program span a range of industries, from plant-based meat brand No Evil Foods to candle subscription service Wickbox to jewelry crafter SoulKu.
  • Venture Asheville’s Asheville Angels network was formed just over three years ago. Since then, members have collectively invested more than $1 million in nearly two dozen startups. Portfolio companies include high-growth startups such as Durham’s Baebies, which develops medical screening technology for newborns, and Asheville-based custom printing startup Plum Print.

Presently, the search is underway to find a new director for Venture Asheville so that these programs “will continue to energize Western North Carolina’s innovation economy,” Dorfman wrote in his letter announcing the leadership change.

In a Q&A with WRAL TechWire, Dorfman talks about his experiences at Venture Asheville and his aspirations for The Collider.