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Three-time TechStars mentor, Daniel Todd, has agreed to mentor GreekPull, one of the companies currently housed at the Velocity accelerator program in Jeffersonville. (We profiled GreekPull last month.)

TechStars is routinely cited as being the number one accelerator in the United States, sometime even the world.

Todd lives in the Seattle area and is the CEO of Affinity Influencing Systems, a marketing company that creates software that allows consumers to earn points when making purchases online and use those points to win prizes. He is also the owner of Bouncyhouse.com, a business that rents inflatable bouncy structures for parties and other events.

Todd is also the co-founder of the online media company Zango. He retired as the president of Zango in 2007. During his tenure at Zango he led their marketing, product management, strategic intelligence and human resources functions.

A.J. Agrawal, co-founder of GreekPull said, “Daniel has had major success as an entrepreneur and as a CEO. The fact that he was able to bring Zango to #7 on the Inc 500 fastest growing company list means he knows what we need to do to get our company to have viral growth. Also, Daniel’s ability to raise over $1,000,000 has been extremely helpful as we begin to raise our next round of funding.”

According to Todd’s TechStars bio:

Under his leadership Zango ranked several times in the Inc 500 fastest growing companies ranking as high as #7 in 2005. He also helped create a corporate culture that repeatedly won Washington CEO’s and the Puget Sound Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” awards.

Todd hadn’t heard about Velocity and didn’t know much about Louisville’s startup ecosystem until Agrawal asked Todd to chat with them. After hearing about the crowdfunding source for sororities and fraternities, Todd agreed to mentor the company.

The 2013 version of making the relationship official? Todd has added the mentorship to his LinkedIn page.

From the recently redesigned GreekPull website:

GreekPull is an online platform that allows current or alumni members of fraternities, sororities and other on-campus fraternal groups to create and fund projects that support themselves or their local chapter. Whether it’s a service project, an expansion project for the group’s facility or a special event, GreekPull helps coordinate funding from a broad range of donors.

“They are focusing on a unique distribution model for an already established business model,” says Todd.  “The strength is that it is both a unique approach to promotion but still a proven model that is growing in popularity.”

Eghosa Aihie, co-founder of GreekPull, says “He’s helped me understand what we need to do to raise money and where we have to take the product to get there. Being in charge of the finances, it’s nice to know I can always turn to a top level CEO like Daniel when I hit a roadblock.”

“We stay in consistent communication,” says Agrawal, “As Daniel is running a full-time company his time is incredibly limited.  As our company matures and we approach benchmarks that mandate additional funding for scaling, our demands on his time will likely increase, Daniel has pledged his support in helping us maintain momentum. 

Because this mentorship brings together two West Coast entities in Jeffersonville, Indiana, we wanted to know Todd’s take on smaller startup ecosystems.

We asked him: “What do you think about the relative benefits of locating a startup in a place with an excellent cost of living and quality of life (like Louisville) versus locating a startup within a larger, more populated startup community?”

He responded:

I think it depends on the dynamics of each company. Many young companies flourish in an environment where there are helpful mentors, investors and vendors (lawyers, etc) that support new start-ups. From a community perspective some entrepreneurs feel more comfortable in an area where they can share their struggles with other people facing similar challenges.

Now I believe that company culture is a defining foundation for success in start-ups and so any place you live where you can create a productive and balanced work environment for your employees and their families is a big advantage.

So can a company be just as successful with a start-up in Louisville over Silicon Valley, Boston or New York, absolutely. However, it could take a lot of effort to create a virtual community of mentors, investors and supporters if those types of connections are not readily available locally.

Agrawal and Aihie have been in residence at Velocity since the beginning of June. They will complete the accelerator program in mid-September.

We asked Agrawal for an update on the company:

Our beta is live and testing has commenced, demonstrating strong potential for generating early revenue.  Our outreach efforts continue to expand with local and national organizations and we’re celebrating our invitation to speak at the Professional Fraternity Conference in St. Louis September 6th.  In the next few weeks we will be consulting with the Delta Sigma Phi chapter from Kentucky to help launch their GreekPull fundraising campaign to renovate the study room in their Fraternity House in honor of a deceased Frat brother.  These efforts add fuel to our entrepreneurial fire and drive the motivation required to maintain our current pace with GreekPull.

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