Advisor to Startup Founders

Companies I've Founded & Led


iContact | 2003-2012

Co-Founder and CTO, then Executive Chairman & Chairman of the Board of Directors

Before the MailChimps of the world, there was iContact, founded and led by two young dotcom-era visionaries ready to turn their ideas into something tangible. Our marketing software company started out as an email communications tool, but quickly turned into something much larger, adding capabilities for new technologies as they came—blogging, RSS syndication, social media and more.

iContact delivered an avenue for companies to have all their digital communications systems in one place. Myself and co-founder Ryan Allis ultimately turned an initial $250,000 investment into a $170 million exit to Vocus in 2012, with $65 million in total capital raised over the years.

BoostSuite |    2011-2017   

CEO & Co-Founder

You don't have to be an advertising guru to be able to market your product or service. That's the idea behind BoostSuite. The platform gives businesses the tools to hyper-target their ads, drive more traffic to their site and choose their own partners—all within seconds.

Since we started the platform, our client base grew to 43,000 small retailers and, by extension, 120 million monthly shoppers. BoostSuite managed to do this with no outside funding, except for a 2011 NC IDEA grant.

The traction led to an eventual exit with Atlantic BT in September 2017.


UNC TV Feature: Aaron Houghton and Erik Severinghaus started MainBrain school while students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

MainBrain School | 2000-2003

Co-Founder & CTO

MainBrain was a provider of administrative software for K-12 schools, with features for recording attendance, grading, keeping track of assignments and other tools to help teachers.

CollegeDirect | 2000-2011


CollegeDirect offered election information services and resources for college campuses.

CollegedUnited | 1999-2001


CollegeUnited was an online auction marketplace for items in high-demand among college student populations. It launched in 17 U.S. universities and had about 100,000 registered users within six months, including 88% of the UNC Chapel Hill student base.

StartupWithMe | 2009-2015


A free service matching entrepreneurs with potential co-founders based on compatibility. I founded this startup with fellow entrepreneurs Neil Bagchi, Sumit Vohra, Rachit Shukla and Justin Gehtland.

Preation | 1997-2012   

President & CEO

Preation is the umbrella brand through which almost all of my startups have spun out. It served as a sort of incubator for web-based advertising and marketing ventures.

Factrivia | 2006-2008


A college student-oriented game that predates Cards Against Humanity, Factrivia was a crowdsourced package of questions and answers submitted by citizens of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Though we oversaw the makings of the game, its content was entirely sourced by the local community. We eventually built the physical board game and sent it out to those who participated.

Outdoorsy | May 2017


My latest gig is developing a series of outdoor co-working spaces with access to mountain biking, hiking and running trails. Early planning is in the works for our first location in the Triangle area of North Carolina.