Student Startup Stories: Greek Global
Ross Reelachart | Technology Editor
Managing the technical intricacies of a fraternity or sorority can be a daunting task, but it can be made simpler by using a web-based online management system made and managed by two of ODU’s own student self-starters. With help from the Strome Entrepreneurial Center, Jon Henson and Dane Howard built the fraternity/sorority management system known as Greek Global. I sat down with the two to learn about them, Greek Global and what it’s like growing their own start-up from scratch.
Howard described himself as having been “entrepreneurial since high school,” and had honed his skills since then as well. Even before college, he had developed a system for a local insurance agency and a ride-sharing service.
During his high school years, Henson was involved in DECA, an organization that “prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.” So he was more than prepared to handle the business side of launching and running Greek Global.
They both joined separate fraternities and eventually met over their shared entrepreneurial interest. Howard, as vice president and treasurer of his fraternity, had experienced firsthand what it was like managing a fraternity.
“We used multiple sites to manage everything from recruitment to finance to file storage,” Howard said.
Seeing how messy the management was, Howard created an early prototype of Greek Global that allowed him to fulfill all of his duties from a single place. While Howard handled the development of Greek Global as a way to serve fraternity/sorority management, Henson made sure it got in front of chapter leaders. Like many other start-ups have reiterated before, a product or service is just a cool idea if no one is using it. Henson got people to use it, Howard made sure it was good to use.
From its initial launch in May 2016, Greek Global has grown in both usage and capability. As a free service, anyone can join Greek Global and make a profile with their interests and details. Individual chapters can then search through these profiles for prospective new members. As a paid service, however, Greek Global offers expanded features such as finance management, file storage, recruitment, event calendars, analytics and even instant messaging. All of these features are protected by high-security measures. There is even a bundle package available for interfraternity councils that can provide the premium version to all associated chapters. Because of this structure, Greek Global is arranged by fraternity or sorority as opposed to college.
When asked about how other students might start-up their own business endeavors, Howard and Henson were frank and truthful. “It all starts with an idea…Hold onto it, bring it to the Strome,” Henson said in regard to how a student might begin their start-up journey. He emphasized the need to “build a realistic model” of your business before you get ahead of yourself and the importance of putting yourself out there in front of people.
“To be extraordinary, you have to be able to drop the ordinary,” Howard said frankly when it came to the work needed to build a business. “Maybe you’ll need to miss a party or pull an all-nighter.” Starting a business is a lot of effort, and Howard and Henson made it known that sometimes you’ll need to drop some things from your life to make room for the work. But both were living examples of the immense payoff that work can bring.
Greek Global will be having a relaunch soon with a revamped website and a new app on iOS and Android, so fraternity management will be even simpler as well as mobile. From there, it will be “go time” for Greek Global as it will be able to be scaled larger for more members and with more features like full payment processing down the line.
The Strome Entrepreneurial Center is also open to anyone looking for help and resources on getting their idea off the ground, with free food and presentations from business leaders every Tuesday.