When companies want to get their products before customers’ eyes, they increasingly turn to a small Dayton-area company, Marxent Labs, to make it happen.
In business for five years, Marxent’s Kettering office still feels like a start-up — a well-funded one. The company makes immersive, three-dimensional or “virtual reality” software that can be controlled on mobile devices.
Marxent made news with its recent announcement of a successful $10 million investment round. Its investors include Quicken Loans founder and Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert.
Beck Besecker, Marxent chief executive and co-founder, has appeared recently on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” and elsewhere telling the company’s story.
“I’m incredibly proud of this team,” he said. “We have an incredible group of people.”
There are good reasons for investors to be drawn to Marxent and virtual reality tools, say the two brothers who lead the company. With the advent of hardware like Google Cardboard, the Microsoft Hololens and the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, the market is primed for going beyond flat screens and two-dimensional images.
“People are calling it the era of VR (virtual reality),” said Barry Besecker, Beck’s brother as well as Marxent co-founder and chief technology officer.
Marxent works best showcasing what the CTO calls “high-consideration products” — real estate, home improvement and remodelings, construction projects and more. Anywhere it might be difficult to envision a final product, Barry Besecker said.
One key product is a 3-D app for home improvement retailer Lowe’s. The app was a finalist for “top tech” product of the 2015 CES (Consumer Electronics Show).
The idea is to give a customer contemplating a new kitchen (for example) an immersive, “real-world feeling,” Barry Besecker said.
“With VisualCommerce, it’s all about: If I can see it, now I feel confident to buy it,” he said.
The CEO said the product is in its second or third generation. From here, the company can continually work to perfect that technology, with feedback from customers, employees and investors.
“It won’t be so much about releasing new solutions as it will be continuing to reinvest in our platform,” Beck Besecker said.
His brother sees the company’s platform becoming more mature and easier for customers to use without assistance.
In fact, he predicts 2-D may become a thing of the past.
“In a few years, customers will be used to 3-D,” Barry Besecker said.
The brothers hail from the Dayton area. Beck Besecker went to Florida a few years ago for another business opportunity. When they agreed to start a new company, they chose to anchor it in Kettering.
In Kettering, there are 43 employees, with several new ones coming on board every week. In the Tampa Bay area, the company has about 10 employees.
More hires are expected, especially in Kettering. “Close to double in the next year or two years, ” Barry Besecker said.
“We really like the culture and the work ethic in this area,” he said.
Megan Gray, Marxent human resources manager, got attention last year with a LinkedIn blog post inviting workers to consider moving to Dayton. But the CTO says the company doesn’t really have trouble finding the right people.
“It’s really all about the culture, and it’s easy to do here in the Dayton area,” he said.
“The cost of living is definitely a big selling point, especially with a lot of our candidates coming in from the west coast,” Gray said.