Thom Ruhe

Thom Ruhe

Thom Ruhe

President and CEO | NC Idea

President and CEO of NC IDEA, a North Carolina based private foundation dedicated to strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the state.

Capitalizing on the many programmatic accomplishments during his tenure at the Kauffman Foundation, Thom works with communities around the world to reap the benefits of democratizing entrepreneurship.
During his 7 year tenure, he directed the Foundation’s programs addressing entrepreneurial education, mentoring, access to capital and fostering entrepreneurial ecosystems; which included: The Ice House (Mindset) Entrepreneurship Program, ID8 Nation, 1Million Cups, Founders School, Investor IQ, Entrepreneurship.ORG, and more. Thom also lead Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation, a community resource for experiential-based entrepreneurial education.

Ruhe serve/d/s in a variety of board and advisory capacities including: The World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council for fostering Entrepreneurship, Board of Advisers for The Kenan Institute of Free Enterprise at UNC and is a founding trustee for Innovation Fund America.

Thom was the founding chief marketing officer (CMO) for JumpStart, a nonprofit economic development organization and seed stage investment fund created to invest in and accelerate the growth of high-potential, early stage companies in northeast Ohio. Before JumpStart, Ruhe served as president of Optiem LLC, a nationally recognized interactive marketing agency. Earlier experience spans founding several entrepreneurial endeavors.

Thom has been quoted and published in: NYTimes, WSJ, Forbes, Inc., and more. Thom has spoken and participated in a variety of functions all over the world including the United Nations, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (Vatican), the USPTO, NACCE, AACC, USASBE, and GEW.