Alumni Spotlight: Bret Besecker '93 Puts the Smart in Smartphone
Innovative risk-takers, entrepreneurs, and high achievers, like Bret Besecker ’93, think outside of the box to make the smartphone even smarter.
“Marxent Labs is a firm I started with my brother, Barry. We invested ourselves and raised money through Detroit Venture Partners – a firm that focuses on early stage technology companies. Marxent provides mobile apps with a specific focus on ‘augmented reality,’” stated Besecker.
Besecker shares, “Augmented reality leverages the camera on a smartphone, image recognition and 3D modeling/animation to enable us to project digital content into physical environments. We work with advertisers, publishers, retailers, and other businesses to create a digital experience on top of real environments.”
Augmented reality apps can superimpose 2-D or 3-D images and information on top of objects, images, advertising, and landmarks. For example, it allows you to hoover your mobile phone over a Sunday grocery circular to get exclusive coupons. Or, a person could use a mobile phone to visualize what a couch in a catalog would look like in the actual living room by assisting with color and style decisions with the existing décor.
Marxent’s mobile augmented reality bridges the divide between traditional and digital media, lending punch to print campaigns, relevance to retail displays, and savvy to storefronts.
Mashable, the largest independent news source on digital culture, social media, and technology, gives a rave review of Besecker’s company and states it’s “an effective way to bolster buzz and engagement.”
This Urbana College of Business graduate is no stranger to corporations, technology, or success. Marxent Labs is one of multiple businesses that Bret has had a hand in since receiving his master’s degree from Purdue University, which he credits for their strong faculty mentorship and his entrepreneurial start.
Shortly after completing his graduate work at Purdue University, Bret started Copient Technologies—a firm that made it easy for retailers to deliver personalized promotions at checkout. If you’ve ever used a loyalty card and received a coupon at checkout, odds are you’ve used Copient. Copient was acquired by NCR in 2003. Bret then served as the Chief Development Officer at Catalina Marketing, the nation’s largest targeted marketing network, through 2011.
Being active and a high-achiever is a lifestyle that Besecker has preferred since his college days. During his time at Urbana, Bret was a strong student leader. He participated in numerous student organizations, including the University Singers and Varsity Quartet, all while serving as the president of the Student Government Association and Business Club for three years. Did we mention that he was also a member of the baseball team? While his busy schedule wasn’t always easy to manage, Bret appreciated the chance to be engaged with campus.
“Urbana was so small that everyone needed to be involved in everything for any given program to work. Everyone was playing one or more sports, involved in theatre or choir and played a role in student government or another club. There were no barriers.”
And barriers are a thing that Bret encourages current and future students to overcome.
“This is the major lesson that I would share with current students: there are no barriers to what you can do. You might not be the best at any given activity, but I guarantee you that lessons you learn from stretching yourself will contribute to you being among the best at your chosen endeavor.”
“I could sing and act well enough to impress my grandmother, but that was about it. But, both experiences helped me build confidence and public speaking skills.” Although modest about his involvement with the performing arts on campus, his athletic ability speaks for itself.
As a sophomore, he was the recipient of the National Collegiate Leadership Award. By his junior year, he was the first player in Urbana’s history to earn the distinction of First Team Academic All-American, while carrying a 3.77 grade point average and a .402 batting average.
His education and experiences here at UU will forever tie him to Urbana. Yet the thing that binds him to the University even more is his father, Joe Besecker, an Urbana University employee for more than 27 years who currently serves as the director of the Johnny Appleseed Educational Center and Museum on the campus of Urbana.
“My Dad has done a lot for the University over the years; from staring the soccer program (mid-90’s) to the Johnny Appleseed Museum. He keeps me up-to- date on the University and the baseball team.”
Joe was there during Bret’s entire college experience, including his favorite memory at Urbana.
“Spring training with the baseball team in Panama City, Florida is my favorite memory. My dad made the trip my senior year and we had a great spring.”
Bret enjoyed the small college atmosphere and personal attention from members of the UU community such as Dr. Hazard, Michael Morris, Al Fulk, and Dick Anderson and shares his secrets to success with others.
“If you share your goals with someone and they tell you that you’re being unrealistic, you’re on the right path,” stated Besecker. “Happiness in life is about being obsessed with trying to make something better. It can be anything, but you have to love it and be obsessed with it.
“What you’re looking for in life is the same feeling you get when you’re reading a great book and all of a sudden you’re unaware that you’re reading. You’re totally immersed in the experience, unaware of yourself or your surroundings. Find something in your life that puts you in that zone and there’s no way you won’t succeed.”
Bret has definitely found his way into that zone, and we are proud to have played a role in that journey. What’s next? Bret says he wants to retire early and is working towards Senior PGA membership. When he’s not working, golfing, running, or fixing his old Jeep, Bret stays busy with his wife Camelia and their twin 7-year old boys, Alex and Gabe.
Further information on Marxent Labs, Co-Founder Bret Besecker’s ’93, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. To be considered for a future alumni spotlight, send an email to email@example.com.