Brent Grinna, center, and friends. Those pants are yellow. Seriously.

The CEO Job is 80% People Stuff

Meet Brent Grinna, EverTrue’s corn-fed, people-focused CEO.

My guest this week is Brent Grinna, the Founder & CEO of EverTrue. EverTrue is a social donor management software platform that helps hundreds of higher education, independent school, and other non-profit fundraising organizations track and engage alumni and donors. EverTrue participated in TechStars and was selected as a winner of MassChallenge in 2011. Bain Capital Ventures is their lead investor today, and their partner institutions include household names like Amherst, Williams, Colgate, Brown, Boston University, Phillips Andover, and Phillips Exeter.

The business was born after Brent — who’d been fast tracking as a venture capital and private equity investor — was asked to serve as an Alumni Volunteer for his undergraduate alma mater, Brown University. He found a system in desperate need of upgrade to 21st century technology and tactics, and set out to bring them to the education fundraising process he cared deeply about.

The reason he cared so deeply was that access to higher education had changed the lives of both he and his brothers, who’d grown up on rural farmland in a far flung corner of Iowa. Football and smarts were Brent’s ticket to Brown, where he not only excelled academically but ended up Captain of the Varsity Football Team. After graduating he spent four years in finance at William Blair & Company and Madison Dearborn Partners, then earned his MBA with honors from Harvard Business School.

Iowa prairie. It’s flat.

In this week’s second segment Brent and I talk about the people stuff that almost always ends up being the primary focus of the CEO, at any stage of the business. I think other CEOs and those who aspire to be one will relate to both the insights and the struggles we both shared in this aspect of the job, if not to uncover all the answers then at least to commiserate on some of the harder questions.

I consider Brent both a good friend and one of the most promising entrepreneurs in Boston, and I think you’ll really enjoy listening in on our conversation… especially if you don’t mind a couple Pats fans / ex-jocks taking apart the parallels of football and business.

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