Advisor to Startup Founders


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Transworld Podcast Interview | June 2019

The technology industry is a fascinating one; if you are in the tech community and industry you will find this episode very useful. Jessica and Andrew welcome to this episode some amazing guests, one of them being Aaron Houghton, a serial entrepreneur who has started an email/newsletter software that has been one of the largest players in the industry,

Listen to the podcast interview.


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Adventures in Flow. Hacking the Hype | May 2019

Alongside Mark Williams, retired Air Force F-15 pilot with 200 hours in combat and neurophysiologist Dr. Kate Pate I spoke on a panel about using mental states to achieve high performance in disciplines ranging from downhill mountain biking to software engineering to high risk startup teams.

About the Boulder Startup Week panel.

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The 80/20 Rule of Legal, HR, and Finance for Startups | May 2019

I moderated a panel with experts from legal, human resources, and finance who shared what’s really important and what you can let slide as a startup founder for each of their disciplines. I shared my story of accidentally not registering the trademark for my company after we purchased the perfect new domain name and having to pay $1.3 million to purchase that trademark a year later. Oops!

About the Boulder Startup Week panel.

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The Good, Bad & Ugly of Selling Your Business | September 2018

I shared my story from writing a piece of software to solve a problem, turning that into a business, scaling the company, and selling it to a public company nine years later on a panel alongside Heidi Ganahl founder of Camp Bow Wow and Julie Clark founder of Baby Einstein. My ugly secret? Assuming my mental and physical resources were unlimited and could be abused at any cost to grow my startup.

About the Denver Startup Week panel.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology | May 2018

I was invited to share my experiences with success and the struggle for happiness as a startup founder with seventy global CEOs graduating from the three-year Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT in Boston.

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President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness | June 2011

I shared my thoughts on the tech industry’s role in creating new jobs to members of President Barack Obama’s Jobs Council including AOL founder Steve Case and Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg.

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Harvard University | January 2010

I spoke to the Harvard MBA Free Enterprise Club on the university's campus in Boston, Massachusetts about marketing automation, software business models, and the rapidly changing cost of storing and reporting analytics data in the cloud.

About the panel.

Internet Summit | November 2014

The lesser-known, yet 100% effective secrets of digital marketing. I spoke on a panel moderated by serial entrepreneur and Automated Insights Chief Product Officer Joe Procopio, alongside fellow Triangle startup founders Eric Boggs of RevBoss and Justin Miller of WedPics.

About the panel.


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UNC Computer Science 50 Year Celebration: Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series | April 2015

Representing BoostSuite and iContact, I spoke on a panel at my alma mater about building businesses based on technology, alongside Phaedra Boinodiris of WomenGamers.com, Mike Capps of Epic Games and Scion Studios, and Eric Carlson of Telcontar and Silicon Graphics.

About the program.

UNC Adams Apprenticeship Fall Conference | September 2016

Erik Severinghaus, a member of the iContact founding team and fellow UNC alum and fellow Adam Apprenticeship advisor, joined me on the stage to share the ups and downs of building three companies together over 15 years, encouraging the program’s advisors to think “broadly and boldly” as they advise student entrepreneurs.

Conference recap.


Weebly “Like a Boss” Tour Stop in Raleigh, NC | April 2016

In an “interactive tech tailgate” with Weebly at CAM Raleigh, I led a workshop about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices for small businesses.

StartupNation Podcast | February 2013

In a podcast episode titled “Business Building Insights from a Serial Entrepreneur,” I talk web marketing and technology with Chuck Hester, an entrepreneur, speaker, author and LinkedIn expert.

Full episode.


Startup Summit | November 2012

I spoke about the importance of factoring potential failure into a business plan, detailing how to be aware of it and make sure it’s possible to recover from it.

About the program.

This was recorded in Raleigh, NC in April 2010 at the Global (WWW) World Wide Web conference.

Future Web Conference | April 2010   

I joined a panel moderated by NC State University’s Tom Miller and featuring Promar Group’s William Weiss, entrepreneur and philanthropist Chris Evans, and serial entrepreneurs Scot Wingo and David Gardner. I spoke about the history of the internet, the opportunities and efficiency it brings, and how it allows entrepreneurs to launch ventures faster and cheaper than anywhere else, even if it’s at the expense of human-to-human interaction.

More clips here and here.


Kauffman Foundation One Million Cups  | April 2016

The weekly One Million Cups events series hosts me for an interview, in which I discuss how to use digital marketing software to gain a competitive advantage. I also share some insights and lessons I gathered over the years at iContact.

About the program.                

CED Cafe Workshop | February 2011

For this event titled “Taking the First Step Beyond Friends and Family: A Conversation with Entrepreneurs and Early Stage Investors,” I joined a panel moderated by Bagchi Law Founder Neil Bagchi and featuring Doug Kaufman of Spring Metrics and TransLoc, Eric Boggs of Argyle Social and RevBoss, IDEA Fund Partners’ Lister Delgado and Matthew Kane of Precision BioSciences. We shared lessons from our experiences building companies from the ground up.

About the event.   

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Collegiate Startup Challenge | October 2010

I judged and provided feedback to college student teams as they explained their products and presented their business plans to a crowd of potential investors and supporters.


Venture Capital Investment Competition Finals at UNC | September 2006

Alongside my iContact co-founder Ryan Allis, I presented the iContact story and defended our product, technical capability, and market traction against waves of MBA students attempting determining the most lucrative investments among several real startup opportunities.

LivingSocial Innovative Marketing Technology Roundup | November 2014

At a LivingSocial event at their headquarters in Washington DC, I delivered a presentation about teaming small businesses for superior digital marketing results.

WRAL TechWire Executive Exchange | August 2010

I participated on a panel featuring prolific entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban, Mitch Mumma of Intersouth Partners, Rich Lee of Hosted Solutions and Mike Doernberg of ReverbNation. We discussed the challenges of finding top talent, the determination required to build a business, and some consumer technology trends for the present and future.

Panel recap.

Photo by Jerome Carpenter, LTW.

Photo by Jerome Carpenter, LTW.


FormStack Annual Strategy Summit | March 2013

I delivered a keynote for FormStack employees in Indianapolis, IN about the iContact story and choosing between core solutions and product expansion as techniques for expanding revenue in a rapidly growing software company.

Northwestern Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital Panel | November 2009

I joined a panel with Hartford Ventures’ Rohit Bodas, John Nix of Go2Call Software and Karen Chung of Nomadic Group of Companies to discuss the process of landing venture capital funding, including the pathways to entry for aspiring entrepreneurs and VCs.



Bull City Startup Stampede | 2011   

I shared a framework for selecting the best software business model for any new company—showing examples of five business models used by nearly all top growing digital companies—with a class of founders participating in the 2011 cohort of the Durham startup accelerator.   

NC IDEA Grant Finals | December 2011   

Alongside my BoostSuite co-founder Daniel Smith, I presented the BoostSuite story sharing our product plans and financial projections to an assembly of North Carolina’s most distinguished entrepreneurs and investors.


Aaron Houghton, iContact Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, interviews Mark Cuban at Local Tech Wire's Executive Exchange in Durham, NC.

Interview with Mark Cuban | November 2011

I was granted an exclusive interview with famous entrepreneur, investor and “Shark Tank” personality Mark Cuban at the 2011 WRAL TechWire Executive Exchange in Durham. In it, he shares stories and learnings from his career of building and investing in companies, adding a few nods to the Triangle’s growing entrepreneurial energy.   


Triangle Eagle Scout Association: Gathering of Eagles 2017 | October 2017   

I headlined a panel including retired Wells Fargo Executive Vice President Jack Clayton, North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby and moderated by real estate attorney Keith Burns about leadership lessons that can be learned from Scouting.

Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) Quantum Leap Program in Montreal, Canada | September 2014

At this global event hosted by Entrepreneurs Organization, of which I am a long-time member, I led a session about building and scaling a digital marketing program for any business. I introduced and shared my experience with popular digital marketing techniques and taught a framework for determining when to use each method.   

About the event.


Uploaded by Startup Grind Local on May 19, 2016.

Google Startup Grind Asheville hosts Aaron Houghton | April 2016   

The Asheville, NC chapter of the global Google Startup Grind organization hosted me just a few minutes from my hometown of Sylva for an hour-long talk on building software companies in North Carolina. I share some of the highlights of my entrepreneurial journey and take questions from the audience.            

Full interview.    

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Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) Raleigh/Durham Chapter

I spoke at a local Entrepreneurs Organization event on the topic “building a company to sell.”

CED TechVenture Startup Lightning Round | September 2012

I emceed the popular lightning pitch round where startup CEOs get two minutes to pitch their companies to potential investors, employees, and users.


Built to Sell Radio | March 2016

In this podcast episode I tell the iContact story, from founding to fundraising to high growth to a $180 million exit. I also talked about the idea behind BoostSuite, trends and competition in the software industry, as well as lessons for raising capital.

Full episode.

BunkerLabs BrainTrust Workshop | April 2016        

The RDU Bunker Labs chapter hosted me on the University of North Carolina’s campus for a presentation about the iContact story and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

About the program.

Method Savvy in Durham, NC | September 2017

I joined a panel of fellow startup executives to discuss CEO perspectives on marketing.

About the panel.


Red Couch Interview | January 2013   

While attending the 2013 Paradoxos conference in Durham, I was interviewed about BoostSuite, data and marketing, and the importance of packaging technology to the end-user.

Full interview.    

Paradoxos 2013 featured a number of interviews on an antique red couch. Speakers and attendees alike sat down to talk about what's next in technology and the arts in Durham. This interview features Aaron Houghton, entrepreneur and founder of iContact. Aaron's latest project is BoostSuite.

UNC Entrepreneurship Minor Advisors Meeting | March 2012

I joined my iContact co-founder Ryan Allis for a panel discussion about college students building software companies moderated by iContact investor, retired venture capitalist, and UNC department of economics professor Buck Goldstein.


UNC Entrepreneurship Minor Program | November 2013

I was a featured guest speaker at a meeting of 250+ entrepreneurship students in the FedEx Global Education Center on the UNC campus. I shared the story of founding iContact less than a mile from campus, building our first product, scaling marketing initiatives, and raising investment dollars from venture capitalists and banks.

Ted Zoller Entrepreneurs Lab “Launching the Venture” (ELab) Class | April 2016

I spoke to University of North Carolina entrepreneurship students about my startup journey and answered questions about building software, selecting co-founders, and achieving product-market fit.

About the class.


Startup Panel at Bay 7 | August 2010

I spoke at an event in Durham’s American Tobacco Campus about venture capital financing for startups.    

Midmarket Radio CEOs | June 2016

In a podcast episode titled “Building and Scaling Midmarket Company in Small Metro,” I recount the iContact story—its creation, how the team was built, and how the company gained momentum over the years, eventually to an exit. I also discuss how BoostSuite is tailored help small and midsize companies compete with larger companies.   

Full episode.



Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) Competition | January 2017

I served as a judge for a startup pitch lineup at a competition hosted by the Raleigh Entrepreneurs Organization chapter, providing feedback to student teams on their business plans and presentations.

About the program.

Leadership Triangle Panel | March 2010

I spoke on a panel alongside Soccer Kids of America’s Erin Johnson, Greenfire Development’s Michael Lemanski and Nourish International’s James Dillard. We discussed the difference between non-profit and for-profit business models, and talked about how both types of businesses can become sustainable.

About Leadership Triangle.


The Lowdown with Tracey & Matthew's latest episode features Aaron Houghton.

Lowdown Show | July 2014

The hosts of Lowdown, a talk show in Durham, chat with me about iContact and its exit, the story of my cancer diagnosis, the vision behind BoostSuite and my embarrassingly semi-famous mountain biking video on YouTube.

Full episode.    


Brier Creek Entrepreneurs Series | October 2012

I was part of a panel of venture-backed startup and marketing execs including Dov Cohn of Appia, Justin Helmig of StrikeIron, Billy Purser of Digitalsmiths and Ken Romley of Zift Solutions sharing stories about making marketing investment decisions with outside investors’ money. This series is hosted by Bull City Venture Partners in Durham. 
About the program.

Small Business Web Summit East | October 2014

I spoke on a panel about SaaS payment systems and shared my experience picking the right type of payment solution for subscription software businesses.

About the program.



Startup Factory | March 2013, April 2014

I spoke to founders of companies participating in a tech accelerator program about the iContact story and shared challenges they’d likely encounter as their products began to gain traction with customers.

Groundworks Labs | February 2013, June 2013

I spoke to founders of companies participating in a tech accelerator program about the iContact story and shared challenges they’d likely encounter as their products began to gain traction with customers.