EntrepreNew Pathways Partner Spotlight: Kae Gruner

Aug 1, 2023

EntrepreNew Pathways is the robust curriculum it is thanks to the time and generosity of many passionate people. Every partner, from guest speakers to mentors to workshop contributors, has left an enduring mark on the program.

Recently, I sat down with one of these incredible partners to talk about her experience participating in EntrepreNew Pathways. Kae Gruner—lawyer, entrepreneur, mother, and professor—has enriched this program with her legal expertise and love for serving entrepreneurs.

From Law to Entrepreneurship

First, a little bit about Kae’s impressive professional journey.

Kae is a northeast Ohio native who earned her J.D. from the University of Akron. She practiced business and intellectual property (IP) law in Cleveland for a few years before moving south to Atlanta, where she continued to practice. (I say continued because recently Kae became a professor of legal studies at Georgia State University.)

Kae was first exposed to entrepreneurs working as an IP lawyer. She worked with many entrepreneurs trying to figure out the legal aspects of starting a business as well as protecting their intellectual property.

Helping her entrepreneur clients had a profound impact on her.

“Every time I would talk to a business owner or entrepreneur about what they’re trying to build, I would just get so excited. I mean, it lit me up when they were talking about what they’re doing.”

Kae credits her clients for giving her an entrepreneurial spirit, which she never felt like she had before.

As exciting as it was to talk with entrepreneurs, she noticed two things:

  1. Many clients, friends, and acquaintances were coming to her with basic legal questions.
  2. Legal services are expensive and create a significant barrier to entry for many entrepreneurs who simply cannot afford them.

This bothered Kae. These people were coming to her with basic questions that they really didn’t need to pay an attorney to have answered. And yet, the cost of legal services was barring them from pursuing their dreams.

So Kae did something about it. During her first maternity leave, while learning to be a mother, she began brainstorming and building the business which would become Start Up Heart Up.

The mission of Start Up Heart Up is best stated on her website.

It is our Mission:

To equip the everyday entrepreneur,

With simple + effective DIY tools,

To start a new business from scratch,

In your own space + at your own pace.

What Drew Kae to EntrepreNew?

I was inspired by Kae’s journey and her drive to help new entrepreneurs. However, as busy as she was, I couldn’t have imagined that she would have time to volunteer at EntrepreNew.

Fortunately, I was wrong.

Since 2020, Kae has traveled from Georgia to northeast Ohio to talk to EntrepreNew students as an Inspiring Guest Speaker.

She also adapted material from her book, Idea to Launch: Business Planning & Strategy Workbook, to accommodate a younger audience.

“I really enjoyed the process of taking complicated, potentially scary subject matter and working hard to turn it into something digestible for young minds, in particular. As a content creator, it was really good for me to distill the message down to its most critical parts.”

Kae even recorded a workshop to accompany the materials she created. You can view the workshop – a part of the EntrepreNew Pathways curriculum – here.

Why Kae Does It

If you’re like me, then you might be wondering: WHY?

Why would a mother of two small children, practicing law, running her own business, and now teaching as a professor, continue to volunteer her very limited time to EntrepreNew?

It goes back to her experience working with entrepreneurs as an IP lawyer.

“At its core, entrepreneurship is just so life-giving and exciting. The potential—that spark of maybe and I don’t know—I really do love it. And I love entrepreneurs—the people. I love them, and I love working with them, and I love serving them.”

Kae found that same feeling working with EntrepreNew students.

“I felt the same thing working with EntrepreNew students that I felt as a lawyer sitting with people in Cleveland in a coffee shop, and hearing about their ideas, and helping them sort out some of the confusion from a legal standpoint. That excitement, the spark in their eyes, made me smile. It made me excited for them.

Working with the students was so fulfilling and rewarding. I just like being a part of them and what they’re doing. Being part of the transformation that they’re going through.”

But it’s not just about feeling good. Kae sees the way the economy is changing and how entrepreneurship is becoming more mainstream.

She recognizes the importance of equipping young people early on with entrepreneurial skills such as critical thinking, strategy, communication, networking, and decision-making. She believes these skills will give students a headstart in whatever pathway they take in their professional lives, whether they become entrepreneurs or not.

“I know that a lot of students will get traditional jobs, but some of them won’t, and the ones who don’t will have some background and an advantage in getting started.

And then, maybe later, when those students who are at their traditional jobs have an idea for a business, they won’t be afraid to take steps towards it. I think that’s empowering.”


Kae is a business lawyer, author, and educator in the entrepreneurship space. Kae has dedicated 8+ years to helping inventors and entrepreneurs both protect their intellectual property and strategize the “next steps” for making the business dream a reality.

Bring EntrepreNew Pathways into Your Classroom!

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