We've walked in your shoes
For decades, our senior leadership team operated in the retail auto and auto finance space. While we enjoyed the flexibility and entrepreneurial nature of working in that environment, we experienced first-hand the challenges of not having access to the substantial resources such as sophisticated modeling, technology, liquidity and access to capital that the larger institutionalized companies enjoyed. Conversely, several of our senior leaders have served on the institutional side of the business in banking and capital markets and enjoyed the benefits of such resources yet suffered from operating in an inflexible and often bureaucratic environment.
Agora was created as the bridge that gives dealers and finance companies the best of both worlds. We achieved this goal by assembling a team of auto retail and finance industry experts and top data scientists, specializing in artificial intelligence to create Agora, the game-changing platform for the BHPH dealer and auto finance participants.
In 2017, we embarked on a mission to develop a software platform with a single goal in mind. Our mission is to empower independent and BHPH auto dealers and auto finance companies to continue in that innovative spirit, but now with the same access to liquidity, capital, and sophisticated tools used by the larger dealer groups and institutions.
Why did we name our company Agora? In ancient Greece, the “agora” was a central gathering place in the city where citizens would assemble to learn, interact, and do business. Now, with Agora Data, the dealer and finance community have one central gathering place.
Meet the Agora Team
Steve is the Chief Executive Officer co-founder, and partner of Agora Data, Inc. Steve started in the retail auto business in the early 1980s, exiting in 1991 to co-found One Hour Acceptance, an indirect auto lender and securitizer sub-prime auto loans. From 1995 until 2014, Steve ran operating divisions within several regional and larger, commercially traded banks that purchased more than $20 billion of auto loans (prime through sub-prime) on a bulk basis in the secondary market. In 2014, Steve formed Center Street Finance, a boutique portfolio manager and asset purchaser of consumer loans before forming Agora Data in 2017. Steve is a co-founder and past board member of the NAF Association.
Chief Executive Officer
Chris is the Chief Revenue Officer, co-founder, and partner of Agora Data, Inc. Chris began his career as an attorney at Thacher Proffitt & Wood, where he practiced for several years focusing on securitizations and other structured financing transactions of consumer and commercial assets. From there Chris moved to investment banking and principal investing, first at Citigroup and then at Bank of America. During his time there, he co-headed teams responsible for originating and executing underwriting mandates for asset-backed securitizations, warehouse lines, residual financing facilities, and other credit facilities. He also was responsible for executing proprietary investments in consumer and commercial finance loan portfolios and in other special situation and esoteric assets.
Chris joined Center Street Finance in 2015 as Partner building the firm’s practice as a boutique portfolio manager and asset purchaser of consumer loans before forming Agora Data in 2017. Chris holds Series 24, 7 & 63 licenses from FINRA. Chris earned a BA in Political Science from Amherst College as well as a JD from Fordham University School of Law.
Chief Revenue/Legal Officer
Daniel has more than 15 years in the auto finance industry leading risk management teams at FSB Financial and SFG Finance. Daniel is a co-founder of Center Street Finance a boutique portfolio management company for banks, hedge funds and finance companies. Daniel is a board member and co-founder of Agora and leads all development of the Agora application. Daniel earned his degree at Texas Christian University.
Chief Technology Officer
Chris is an experienced automotive finance leader with an extensive history of success in automotive lending, servicing and ancillary products.
Most recently as an executive and leader of the sales and marketing functions for GWC Warranty, the leading provider of service contracts for independent dealers, Chris helped drive the doubling of revenue and profit, which helped facilitate two private equity acquisitions during his tenure there. He was previously Founder, President, and CEO of American Credit Acceptance, a sub-prime auto finance lender, which became an industry leader in its segment through the execution of innovative dealer development, loss management, and operating strategies. Serving as the Regional Credit Executive and National Direct Lending Executive for Chase Auto Finance, the industry-leading prime auto financing source, Chris managed the credit function for the Southeast Region and led the reengineering and execution of the internet and direct auto lending platform.
He established himself as a key leader in the auto finance industry, as Chris was a Founder and Senior Manager of AmeriCredit Financial Services, the industry-leading sub-prime auto finance lender, where he managed the development and execution of the branch sales operation, credit, funding, collection, compliance, and Internet functions.
SVP - Sales
Zach Maynard is Senior Vice President of Product Development at Agora Data, Inc, with responsibility for driving vision of the product into reality. While Zach started his career building a successful wealth management practice, his true passion has always been technology and its disruptive power in industries across the globe. He thrives on challenges and has a professional record for solving complex business problems through a combination of human, technology, and quantitative solutions. Zach holds a BBA in Finance from Texas Christian University.
SVP - Product DEVELOPMENT
Chad Stilwell is the Senior Vice President of Data Science at Agora Data, Inc, with responsibility for artificial intelligence (AI), modeling, and analytics. Chad has over 11 years of expertise in the space and most recently served as the Director of Analytics & Insights for a top Fortune Global 500 company. He has a passion for utilizing cutting edge technology to solve today’s challenges and leads the Agora team of developers to bring personalized business intelligence and expert analytics to Agora users. Chad graduated from Texas Christian University with a BBA in Business Information Systems.
SVP - Data Science
Jim has served in the subprime auto finance industry for over 25 years. He has been the CEO or President of Auto One Acceptance Corporation (acquired by California Federal Bank); Autoeloan.com, Inc., an early all online auto finance company; Auto One Acceptance, LLC, an auto finance company specializing in serving Hispanic owned dealerships; SVP of driversselect, an innovative independent auto dealership in Dallas; Director of Vendor Compliance for First Investors Financial Services; and SVP of Center Street Finance, LP, a multi-faceted portfolio analysis, acquisition and servicing company. Jim was a Board of Directors member of Travelers Leasing, a subprime finance company in Vancouver, BC, until its acquisition by Scotia Trust Bank.
He is a founder of the National Automotive Finance Association, and has served in several capacities including President, Chairman, and is currently an Executive Committee and Board of Directors Member. He was the recipient of the National Automotive Finance Association’s first Industry Excellence Award at the annual NAF Conference on June 2, 2010. Jim is a frequent speaker at Auto Finance Conferences as well as a contributing author in auto finance industry trade publications. He is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (Texas) and resides in Arlington, Texas.