DURHAM – People sure do get excited when someone tells them how good they are. Just think of all the public adulation when a television network proclaims North Carolina is the best state in the nation for “doing business.” And I get downright lightheaded when a massive corporation agrees to accept tens of millions of dollars from us for the privilege of moving to the best state in the nation for doing business.

We get swept up in the excitement of such announcements because of the deep-seated need in our subconscious for validation. We want to feel seen, heard, understood and appreciated. So, when some media outlet declares we are the belle of the ball, we swoon.

At NC IDEA, we are not immune from an inferiority complex, so we feel our confidence swell when we learn of outcomes that validate our work. In our case, we get that hit of economic development dopamine when the companies we’ve funded thrive and grow to the point where they raise money from other sources.

Of course, there are many factors and partners in our ecosystem that help a nascent company grow to the point of funding. And we are doing everything we can to support those partner organizations too. But the reason we take a smidgen of extra paternalistic pride is because the overwhelming majority of our funding decisions represent the first external funding the founder has received.

For our funded companies, it is often the first time that a group of smart and passionate people (our core reviewers, fellows, and staff) outside of their friends and family, say: “We see you, we see your potential, and we think the world needs to see your potential.” When they then reward our faith with hard work to the point they raise substantial growth capital, it’s chicken soup for our soul.

And despite the unusually hot summer we’ve just experienced, we’ve been enjoying gallons of soul-soothing soup as our companies have been raising millions. Making it taste even more savory than usual, they are raising money during a time when many in private equity are warning that winter is coming. They’re bucking the self-fulfilling tendencies of funders and standing out enough to secure resources.

The even better news will be seen years from now. Research has shown that some of our biggest and most successful companies started in economic hard times. With what our companies have done during the current lean times, I have no doubt North Carolina is the best state in the nation for doing business starting a business.