Martin B. Fortier
Chief Executive Officer/CMO and Co-Founder
Marketing Professional and Serial Entrepreneur
From high-tech to hand tools, Marty’s career, or careers, have given him a wide range of experiences to draw upon. His affable style and “can do” attitude have helped to reassure clients in stressful situations, and his “real world” experience is something his clients as well as his partners have come to rely on.
Martin embarked on an advertising career that encompassed several industries and numerous job titles. And wedged in between his advertising stints, Martin was lured to the entrepreneurial world where he was involved in start-ups in the software, sporting goods, and professional tool industries.
Question: What do sporting goods, professional hand tools, recording equipment, digital music software, data storage, broadcasting electronics, construction supplies, aerospace and publishing have in common? Answer: That would be Marty.
Sounds a lot like a professional version of Attention Deficit Disorder, but actually it’s a solid recipe for a well-seasoned marketing executive. And like a good recipe where each ingredient compliments the prior, Martin “Marty” Fortier’s individual work experiences form a tasty business/entrepreneur blend.
Marty embarked on his “business card collection” upon graduation from UCLA in 1985. His degree was in Political Science but his passion rested in the Mass Communications emphasis he pursued during his matriculation. That passion drove Marty to a career, not in any given industry, but rather a career in marketing and communications.
Advertising was his goal and his first step was at the bottom of the proverbial success ladder with an electronics company called Fostex. The company was a pioneer in personal multi-track recording equipment, and as the in-house ad guy, Marty learned the basics in copywriting, public relations, media buying and product introduction. After cutting his teeth on the client side, Marty was recruited by a boutique agency with a small but exclusive list of electronics industry clients including JBL Professional. Marty’s agency career culminated in an account executive position with the international advertising agency Hakuhodo Ltd. Armed with a ton of experience and a closet full of blue suits, Marty was hired to manage accounts such as Tascam – the industry leader in personal multi-track, and the Teac Data Storage.
Although there were plenty of rungs remaining on the ad ladder, it was time for Marty to scratch the “entrepreneurial itch.” He left the agency business to join a start-up that was entering the world of multi-media. Prosonus was a digital audio company that needed a marketing guy to productize its technology and take the products to market. Marty helped develop two industry firsts: MusicBytes – a CD-ROM library of license-free original music from actual recording artists, and Mr. Sound FX – PC/Mac system sounds created by actor/comedian Michael Winslow (Police Academy movies). In addition to the consumer products, Marty pioneered the company’s OEM business where he negotiated licensing deals with IBM, Microsoft, Phillips Interactive, and Creative Labs.
Marty eventually liquidated his equity in Prosonus and opened his own mar/com agency specializing in “Lifestyle Marketing.” With the dreaded “fees for equity” swap, Marty co-founded Dead On Sports and introduced a line of golf clubs and apparel to the burgeoning “Grunge Golf” market. Recognizing that the “lifestyle marketing” approach was applicable to a demographic regardless of the industry, Marty took the Dead On concept to the professional hand tools industry and launched Dead On Tools. Now, instead of blue suits and IBM conference rooms, Marty was donning jeans and a golf shirt and establishing distribution agreements with Lowes, Ace Hardware, Sears and Walmart.
When Marty and his partner sold Dead On Tools to Pull’r Holdings, Inc., in 2002, Marty packed up his wife and girls and moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. While enjoying the mountains and lakes of North Idaho, Marty continued to consult on marketing/communications projects while dabbling in commercial real estate and retail. In addition, he pursued his love of writing, and for seven years contributed a not-so-widely syndicated weekly humor column to Hagadone Newspapers (Coeur d’Alene Press, etc.).
In 2009 Marty and Rob Hust co-founded The Forust Agency where they specialized in consulting with start-ups and upstarts. The partners have also been known to pursue their own start-ups, including QuikQlik™ and Prefrent™ with fellow entrepreneur Curt Ogiego. In 2012 Marty was tapped by Impresa Aerospace, Inc. to manage the company’s marketing efforts. As Director of Marketing, Marty’s experience and keen insights helped the company manage the consolidation of its West Coast assets as well as the expansion of the corporate footprint to the Southeast.
President/CRO and Co-Founder
Seasoned Business Owner and Sales Professional
Curt Ogieglo is an entrepreneurial professional with 25+ years of extensive sales and account management experience. He has a successful background in business management, operations, new business development and relationship selling. He’s a proven strategist with the ability to execute sales campaigns focused on building relationships, gaining market presence and maximizing profitability.
As a co-founder of Prefrent, Inc., Curt brought high energy, exceptional organizational skills, and the willingness to wear multiple hats to the start-up. Charged with the primary task of monetizing the intellectual property, Curt worked with Marketing to develop a sales strategy, refine target markets, identify sales/distribution channels, develop a pricing strategy and target strategic partners. His other “hats” required Curt to oversee operations and assist the CFO with financial projections and analysis.
Prior to Prefrent, Curt worked with fellow Prefrent co-founders Martin Fortier and Rob Hust in the development and launch of Quik Qlik,™ a QR company focusing on the marketing/advertising industries. Curt used the Quik Qlik IP to form SuperSkan,™ a QR code company designed to marry traditional analogue advertising with current electronic media. Curt used SuperSkan as a “digital value-add” to yellow page advertisers – using QR codes as a tracking system for otherwise limited print advertising.
Mr. Ogieglo began his entrepreneurial efforts when he launched Yellow Page Logic, a company that developed marketing campaigns for national and large regional yellow page advertisers. As a Certified Marketing Representative (CMR) Curt focused on various mid-sized & national companies. He built the business from the ground up by personally managing his customers’ electronic and print yellow page marketing campaigns, and providing business consulting as it relates to sales and operations. As the founder and president of Yellow Page Logic Curt:
- Developed and built business from start up to generate 7-figure sales annually
- Produced over 70% of all new business through referrals
- Built high touch customized customer service campaign resulting in zero attrition before selling the business in 2013
Prior to the formation of Yellow Page Logic, Curt functioned as Chief Revenue Officer and COO of another CMR, Michaels Wilder Corporation. As an executive responsible for growing revenue, his leadership led to electronic & print yellow page ad placements in over 7000 directories in North America. Curt’s achievements while managing sales, operations and customer service at Michaels Wilder included:
- Grew sales at a 23% CAGR and gross profit increased from the industry standard 4-5 % to 11-13%
- Established guidelines relative to client profiles, sales strategy and operations efficiencies to control costs. EBITA rose from 3% to 8% by 2005
- Helped grow company from a small boutique agency to one of the top 20 agencies in the country
- Increased sales from 4M to 15M by developing sales metrics to monitor and identify growth industries
- More than doubled average customer retention (27 months to 63 months) by better identifying customer profiles and customizing customer service approach.
- Restructured client billing terms and established capital expenditures guidelines to insure cash flow predictability
- Employed retention planning relative to multi-industry client base
- Developed over the phone closing procedures to reduce travel expenses and reduce sales cycle
Curt earned a BBA (Business Administration/Management of Operations) from the University of Phoenix, and studied Industrial Engineering at Arizona State University. He’s a past member of the Mathematics Mentoring Club, the Industrial Engineering Club and claims to have caught an 11-pound bass.
John C. Dong
Chief Financial Officer
An Experienced Executive Who Gets Start-ups Going and Growing
Mr. Dong is a seasoned executive professional with extensive expertise in high-growth business conversions, including restructurings and raising capital for startup companies. During the past eight years alone, he has helped raise over $300 million with two international NASDAQ firms, and a high-tech startup in Silicon Valley. As CFO and/or Senior SEC officer Mr. Dong has supervised the preparation and filing of multiple S-1’s and subsequent SEC and AIM (London Exchange) filings. In addition, he has coached numerous executives on the drafting of earnings’ scripts, call strategy and etiquette.
As the CFO of BriteSmile Inc., a global leader in teeth whitening (NASDAQ: BSML), he was instrumental in increasing EBITDA by over 40%, reducing debt by over 60%, and increasing share value by 1,200% with extremely limited resources. While at BriteSmile Inc., he led a capital raise of $8.5 million in a private placement for the company.
Mr. Dong spent five years as a senior internal consultant with Wells Fargo Bank – leading the IPO effort for San Francisco Federal Savings. He then led the Mergers and Acquisitions group for Computerland Corporation where, in eighteen months, he completed divestitures of over 12 entities, grew sales to $1.6 billion, and directed acquisitions of over 50 entities in a high tech franchise environment.
As the Chief Financial Officer and Board Member of DV Capital, a diversified venture capital firm, Mr. Dong helped manage a $150 million “carve out” line with Lehman Brothers for its infant stage leasing and finance companies.
Moving on to his own endeavors, Mr. Dong founded two consulting firms specializing in acquisitions, turnarounds, IPOs and divestitures. These companies capitalized on Mr. Dong’s broad knowledge of high-tech development, focusing on venture capital, international manufacturing, and bio-tech and green-tech startups. As a financial consultant Mr. Dong has proven to be especially effective at:
- Maximizing revenue/margins and market penetration with a focus on operating efficiencies and achieving deliverable milestones,
- Compliance to Proper Revenue Recognition Guidelines and Regulatory Statues
- Converting excess production into alternative sources of revenue or cost savings
Mr. Dong graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a Bachelors Degree in Accounting and Finance. He also holds an MBA, and earned his CPA credentials with Coopers & Lybrand, Int’l.
Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder
A Multi-lingual Programmer with a Flair for Intelligent Systems
He may be the youngest member of the team, but he’s still old enough to remember when muscle cars had real muscle, album covers were works of art, and the Apple logo was rainbow.
Erik (with a K please) was smart enough to get into intelligence…Artificial Intelligence. Before he freaked-out his wife and kicked a steady job to the curb for a start-up, Erik was a Senior Programmer for Next IT. During his tenure he worked on a myriad of projects including an intelligent mobile recruitment app for the Army. The application used A.I. in the form of a Functional Presence Engine creating an interactive Q & A that reduced telephone inquiries by more than half.
Erik’s A.I. programming at Next IT was a continuation of his work years earlier when he designed intelligent systems for Neokinetics, a company that pioneered a scalable behavioral biometrics with the accuracy of a human thumbprint for security and intrusion detection.
Of course, Erik wouldn’t be able to legitimately call himself a programmer if he didn’t, at some time, leave the “real world” on a quest to write the next megagame. Release date TBD.
During the 15 years since he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Gonzaga University, Erik has amassed a wide array of programming experience. He’s proficient in:
Prefrent is proud to have a CTO who has a wealth of experience, proven leadership skills, and the entrepreneurial spirit. Who cares if he’s never played Pong or driven a lime green Pacer?
Chief Science Officer and Co-Founder
A Scientific Mind with a Ton of Non-Science Talent Thrown In
Rob has been the “mind” behind a number of successful startups in the areas of Internet communications, security, and digital media. Fascinated by the potential of artificial intelligence, Rob began to focus on cognitive computing and quickly joined forces with other developers, collaborating on AI and behavioral biometric patents. These innovations caught the attention of people and agencies all over the world. It wasn’t long before Rob was part of an executive team in Washington D.C. collaborating with Sandia National Laboratories, Raytheon, SAIC, Lockheed Martin, The Justice Department, the Department of Defense, and various other US Government entities.
Rob has a handful of patents under his belt focusing primarily on stimulus/response, functional presence, and distributed knowledge aggregation. His patents were part of the intellectual property that formed the foundation to several tech start-ups. As a consultant, Rob has taken an active hand in developing technology and systems for Legal Discovery, Business Intelligence, Content Management, Knowledge Aggregation, Enterprise Resource Planning, M-Health Applications, and User Experience Design.
Rob Hust co-founded Agent Science Technologies / Neokinetics in 2004 as its CTO. The company provided agent-based intelligence systems to various government and commercial entities within the United States, as well as research and development that yielded significant intellectual properties in the fields of information analysis and behavior-metric security. The company’s customers and collaborators included Sandia National Laboratories, Devon-Technologies, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Ebay / PayPal, and others.
In 2001 Rob co-founded and subsequently sold Spectre AI (working title “eLarus”) to NextIT. The technology is currently used by the Defense Department and Fortune 500 companies to intelligently manage cognitive knowledge systems.
In 1997 he co-founded The Archmedia Group which developed web applications and image compression technology used by online catalogs. The Archimedia Group sold, after only ninety days in existence, to Netivation.com who at that time managed a portfolio of web technology startups.
Previous to his career as an inventor / entrepreneur, Rob worked as a product designer within Macromedia’s Digital Arts Group (now Adobe). His team worked specifically with digital media tools and authoring systems.
Rob graduated in 1997 from the Art Institute of Seattle (formerly the Burnley School of Art and Design) to pursue a career in art… He later went on to enhance his software engineering skills at the University of Texas in Dallas.
Outside his pursuit of “notionography” Rob has co-authored talks on cross-cultural stasis with Raymond Ferrero III for Nova Southwestern University and the Organization of American States, and was a founding investor in “Karla’s Hope” a non-profit that established micro-finance community banks in Panama.