Brent Grinna has hosted over 100 Advancement greats on the RAISE Podcast. JD Beebe, founder of ThankView and now-president of EverTrue, was one of those first 100 guests, and he and Brent had a lot of fun with his episode of the RAISE podcast.
This week, JD turns the tables and asks Brent to share his own story with our listeners. We learn about Brent’s childhood growing up in “The Hometown of the World.” His first leadership experience showing pigs in the 4H club (and winning the purple ribbon at “the Cadillac of pig contests”). The tough-love sports coaches who shaped his younger years on the plains of Iowa. His first trip to NYC to interview at Lehman Brothers in Times Square. And of course, the story of how EverTrue came to life.
Catch the full episode below.
Highlights from the episode…
“Applied learning, is what I called it.” Brent joined Brown University as a first-generation student from Iowa, and though he received generous financial support, he still needed a job to bring in some extra cash during his first semester on campus. With his so-so Portuguese language skills, he landed a gig translating Portuguese documents for an immigration lawyer. He would submit his first-draft translations as assignments for his Portuguese class, his professor would proof them, and then he would submit the proofed version to his boss. Early entrepreneurism!
“I watched from the sidelines during a really challenging period for a lot of my former colleagues.” As the financial crisis kicked off, Brent was accepted into Harvard Business School. He enrolled in the Harvard MBA program in Fall 2008.
“I absolutely loved the process of fundraising and securing a gift.” While at Harvard, Brent’s alma mater reached out asking for fundraising help. He enjoyed the challenge of fundraising for his 5th reunion campaign and his interest in the world of alumni engagement and development grew.
“As other sectors were being reinvented at the intersection of social and mobile, I wondered why this world of education fundraising that helped kids like me go to college wasn’t following suit?” As Brent continued fundraising for Brown and learned more about advancement, he noticed that colleges and universities were working with wayyyy-outdated information and technology. The world outside of advancement was evolving – but Brent didn’t see the same forward push in the fundraising space.
“At those early stages of the entrepreneurial journey it’s just amazing how these little inflection points really do shape your entire trajectory.” Strong mentorship, an instinct for good timing, and an openness to new challenges guided Brent’s career path. Brent’s smaller decisions to apply for jobs, connect with new people, or attend conferences generated organic opportunities.
“It feels like we’re co-founding a new company.” Together, JD and Brent have lots of experience working in advancement. Evertrue’s merger with ThankView and other platforms (like The Solas Group) marks the beginning of a new era for both companies as they combine their experience, technology, and resources to build the category-leading solution for fundraising shops everywhere.
More about Brent…
Brent Grinna began his career in investment banking in Chicago at William Blair & Company and then Madison Dearborn Partners. Prior to founding EverTrue, he received his MBA with honors from Harvard Business School.
With Brent’s leadership, EverTrue participated in Techstars Boston, was selected as a winner of MassChallenge, and secured top investors, such as Bain Capital Ventures. Brent serves as a Board Member for the Brown University Alumni Association Board of Governors and Board Director for the Brown Football Association. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife and three boys.