Success in virtual reality allows Kettering tech company to grow

Marxent expands Kettering office after success in VR, AR arenas

Marxent appears to have found its place in the worlds of virtual and augmented reality, allowing the company to grow its Kettering office.

The company creates content management software and platforms in the $100 billion virtual reality and augmented reality markets, wedging those technologies into the homes and home furnishings markets.

Unsure about a kitchen remodeling? Want a new look for the family room? Marxent perhaps is best known for its VR work for Lowe’s Home Improvement, crafting what Beck Besecker, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, has called “Minecraft for moms.”

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The idea is to “see” options for home improvements in full, immersive 3-D environment, wearing an occulus headset, for example. There are options as well for working on a tablet or iPad.

Buoyed by that growth, the company is expanding its presence in the Miami Valley Research Park by nearly 5,000 square feet. Recent JobsOhio metrics show that Marxent received a $1.5 million growth fund loan. (JobsOhio is the state’s private development arm.)

With about 95 workers total in Ohio and Florida — with most of them by far in Kettering — Marxent is looking to add another 15 this year, including an office manager, project managers, software developers and others, said Barry Besecker, Marxent co-founder, chief technology officer and Beck’s brother.

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The growth the company is experiencing is happening fast. Asked if Marxent was profitable, Barry Besecker didn’t offer numbers but said: “If we were profitable, we would be doing something wrong.”

Barry Besecker said Marxent’s sister company has led to the growth.

A year ago, Marxent spun off Magnetic Mobile. Also based at Miami Valley Research Park, Magnetic Mobile focuses on data and e-commerce technology to help businesses hone their customer reward and loyalty programs.

“They’ve been growing,” Besecker said. “And we’re poised this year for a lot more growth.”

Marxent has offices in Kettering and St. Petersburg, Fla., but the local office is the far bigger one. The Florida office has 20 employees while the local Marxent office has about 55 workers and Magnetic Mobile has about 20 Kettering workers.

“If you look at the VR marketplace today, where Marxent is, they’re targeting the retail customer experiences for high-end tickets, high-end items, really changing the digital landscape,” said Geoff Pattison, president of Magnetic Mobile. “The loyalty marketplace … is much more targeted toward a consumer marketplace.”

Magnetic Mobile’s technology comes into play at grocery stores, convenience stores and similar sites with more frequent, smaller purchases.

“Furniture shopping happens once every seven years,” Besecker said. “You go to a convenience store every morning.”

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The companies serve common customers and their own, unique customers, he said.

VR and AR are newer markets, while the customer loyalty space is more mature.

“Customer loyalty dates back to 2002, 2003 when the large side of data got into it,” Pattison said. “That’s when Kroger introduced their loyalty platform. It has been more mainstream in the (past) seven or eight years.”

But all retailers are getting to a place where the prospect of harnessing large amounts of data to better understand and even predict what their customers want is an opportunity they cannot ignore.

“Big data, mobile … are changing loyalty completely,” Besecker said. “People are constantly making new investments in their apps. Magnetic Mobile is really focused on the app space.”

Whatever the future holds, Besecker expects it to happen quickly.

“The market is growing really, really rapidly, and it’s a constantly changing technology.”

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