Innovative Program Launches Entrepreneurs in the Most… | GVL SC

Innovative Program Boosts Entrepreneurs in the Most Startup-Friendly City in America

A mother-daughter duo, a trainer for e-sports gaming, a green laundry service provider, and the creator of a mobile sneaker marketplace app are among a group of diverse founders who will dive into the GVL Starts program on August 25.

As new and aspiring entrepreneurs, we are so excited to participate in GVL Starts program. We look forward to taking advantage of all their wonderful resources, forming new connections and friendships that can help expand our business, and gaining invaluable experience with like-minded people. Erin Brasington, Versillo co-founder

GVL Starts is a high-impact eight-week entrepreneurial support program powered by The Hill Institute at Furman University that meets in the heart of downtown Greenville's business district on Thursday nights.

Erin and EvanMarie Brasington, Co-founders of Versillo


The third GVL Starts cohort includes 26 founders of all ages, races, and backgrounds. The knowledge they gain and the connections they make during this transformational experience will help launch ideas into startups and startups into successful ventures.

Erin Brasington and her daughter EvanMarie co-founded Versillo, a company that makes a patented multi-use travel pillow.

The mother-daughter duo is ready to get started.

“As new and aspiring entrepreneurs, we are so excited to participate in the GVL Starts program,” Erin Brasington said. “We look forward to taking advantage of their wonderful resources and forming new connections and friendships that can help expand our business…"

"Being able to experience that with my daughter makes it even better.”

D'alexander Zegarra, Instaheat app founder

From High School to "Heat"

More proof that age is just a number in entrepreneurship...

D'alexander Zegarra is a recent high school graduate and founder of the Instaheat app, a sneaker marketplace that allows users to buy, sell, and trade authentic sneakers in any condition.

Zegarra says he is excited to be a part of GVL Starts because of the people behind it.

“Greenville is full of motivated people who push others to be the best they can be, which is perfect for startups,” Zegarra said.

Winners of the Spring 2022 GVL Starts Demo Day Celebrate on Stage


Dozens of people have now graduated from the GVL Starts program but most of them have stayed in close touch. Being a part of the supportive and collaborative network of founders in our community has helped them through the challenges entrepreneurs inevitably face. No matter where they go from here, GVL Starts will remain a critical and impactful chapter of their entrepreneurial journeys.

Allan Symonette, founder

We checked in with some recent GVL Starts grads to see what they've been up to and to get their thoughts on how the program has affected them and their businesses.

Allan Symonette

Allan Symonette is the founder of, a virtual one-stop-shop that provides a convenient way for customers to support local merchants.

SC Launch, a state-funded program that supports innovation, has named a Member Company, which gives Symonette access to mentors, resources, and potential funding.

As a new, older entrepreneur, there is so much that I didn’t know. I feel like I’m off to the races, and I can’t thank GVL Starts enough for what they’ve done for me. Allan Symonette, founder
Erin Mehagan, Livi Lou Laine founder


Erin Mehagan is a mother and the founder of Livi Lou Laine, an intimates brand named after her three daughters that helps women boost their confidence and improve their self-image by creating the shape they desire. She was one of Allan's classmates in the second GVL Starts cohort.

Mehagan says GVL Starts is “a powerful combination of practical information and advice” whose resources and connections “continue to add value and support growth long after the cohort has ended.”

GVL Starts works in partnership with the City of Greenville, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, the Greenville Local Development Corporation, and the South Carolina Research Authority.

Michelle Willis