You’re just getting off the ground and need help with funding, strategy or navigating unfamiliar business tactics.
If you have a great idea yet are unsure about how to effectively execute it, let’s talk. We help aspiring businesses understand their intended market, evaluate the competition and maximize their potential. Whether it’s providing funding, determining manufacturers and suppliers or helping develop a marketing plan, we work with prospective businesses – from students to early-stage entrepreneurs – to turn their vision and dreams into a reality.
You’re gaining momentum and need some guidance developing your business model.
If you are already selling in your desired market and want to take your business to the next level, we can help. With our 35+ years of experience, we work with business owners to build a trajectory of success. Our portfolio businesses operate independently and bring their expertise to our team network, creating a synergistic relationship to foster collective growth.
You’re an established business and are ready to discuss transition options.
If you are looking to retire or take a step back from your business, we can help you plan the next step. You may be ready to transition, perhaps out of the daily operations and into a specific role to pursue your passions. We’ll work alongside you to move your business into the future while maintaining your foundational values and building off the success you’ve created.
We look for a commitment to integrity, quality, community and sustainability in the products and services we invest in.
We analyze planning and performance to determine if finances are comprehensive and reflective of prudent decision-making.
We ensure our expertise brings value to the entire team; we help strengthen and accelerate our portfolio businesses.
We seek diversity in opportunities to help us better collaborate, increase performance and meet business goals across the portfolio.
We pursue teams who are invested, hardworking and fun to work with, to build strong, enduring relationships.
Chief Executive Officer
Susan is a veteran branding, sales, marketing and communications expert who learned her craft while at Apple. Using what she learned at other global companies and entrepreneurial small businesses, Susan worked extensively to develop strategies and processes to achieve these organizations’ business objectives. Since Otten Associates was formed in 2000, Susan has consulted with companies on overall business strategies, including reputation management, internal and external communications, branding, social integration, traditional and digital marketing and more. Her client list extends across industries, from entertainment and retail, to healthcare, manufacturing and technology. Susan is an active presenter, board member and teacher (including at the MBA level). She loves to apply her knowledge and expertise to help her clients realize their dreams.
Working for Apple with its amazing entrepreneurial culture for over 15 years, I realized many good employees eventually left to start their own companies. After my first consulting gig, I was hooked and haven’t stopped innovating and helping others be successful.
With over 35 years of experience working in operations, engineering, manufacturing and product management, Ron brings an analytical and logical angle to the Otten Associates team. He has held positions in a range of capital equipment manufacturers, improving their processes, developing more efficient systems and launching new, innovative products. Ron’s uncanny ability to strengthen teams has helped companies achieve their most far-reaching goals. One of his teams won the Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence and then earned a place as one of America’s 10 best plants. Ron enjoys exercising his technical and management skills to support businesses from the ground up, while helping them gain a long-term, superior reputation in their markets.
Susan and I work really well together, doing exciting work for our clients and companies. It’s the ‘yin & yang’ we have; my engineering and attention to detail and Susan’s marketing and innovation. It works well, it’s exciting to see the success others have with our help and it’s fun!
For the Love of Body & Planet
Our company was created out of our passion for making people feel good while supporting the environment. We decided to partner with Otten Associates because of our aligning goals and their genuine interest in the mission, vision and values of So Good So You. Like us, they wanted to build a company that generated goodness—good products, good employees, good customers and goodwill in the community. Otten Associates has been an invaluable resource. As members of our board, Ron and Susan engage with us on business strategy, as well as help us with major decisions about company direction. Since we are a manufacturer, Ron’s deep experience in the manufacturing field is relevant for us in creating processes, efficiencies and scale production. Eric and I also enjoy working alongside the Otten Associates portfolio companies, with our operations and marketing/brand experience. We have great conversations and challenge each other to problem solve in new ways. As founders and entrepreneurs who have created and built our company from concept to national distribution, we offer relevant experience to the younger, startup-phase companies within the portfolio. We are thrilled to support other entrepreneurs pursuing their passions.
Co-Founder & CEO
So Good So You
Phlex exists for swimmers, created by swimmers. The Phlex founders developed the idea for a swimming fitness tracker because of the lack of innovation for swimming-specific gear. We decided to partner with Otten Associates because they aren’t your conventional investment group—they have so much more to offer. We all treat each other like family and use this powerful relationship to stay true to our goals. Ron and Susan help Phlex grow but they don’t micromanage like other investment firms. They have been very hands-on, even setting aside time outside of normal work hours to do a deep dive with our team. Otten Associates gives Phlex the boost necessary for long-term success. I believe Phlex also offers important skills to the entire portfolio team. As young, tech-savvy entrepreneurs, we bring a deep understanding of evolving markets and future trends. We see vision as one of our main strengths. In addition, we have an extensive network in swimming and other sporting circles across the U.S., Poland, Australia and Brazil.
Chief Operating Officer
Protect Your Life
About two years ago, my sister Rachel, was riding her bike at the intersection of Park Avenue and Diamond Street in Philadelphia when she was the victim of a hit and run. Since then, Rachel has been working hard to recover while my business partner, Jordan and I set out to improve cycling safety. Together, we developed the technology for an ultraportable helmet. From our very first conversation, we felt Otten Associates understood and supported our mission to create a world free of life altering injuries. Ron and Susan have provided invaluable insights, talent and resources, opening many doors for us. The network of investments the Ottens are forming has created a powerful, close-knit community of likeminded people who support one another. Thanks to our partnership, Jordan and I have been able contribute innovative thinking, new perspectives, along with design and engineering experience to help grow the whole portfolio. Ron and Susan believe people and character are paramount, and this focus builds a community of compassion and drive for everyone to succeed. They know what it means to build a healthy company culture based upon inspiration, trust and generosity.
Co-Founder & President
Six years ago, FixFind started as a modest online marketplace for tools and hardware. Our assortment has grown exponentially to offer a much broader selection, in large part due to Ron and Susan’s investment and support. We were drawn to a partnership with Otten Associates because of their generosity and character, as well as their network of intelligent and strategic people. In the cutthroat private equity world with its “I win when you lose” mentality, it seemed unbelievable such genuine, selfless people like Ron and Susan could exist. Simply put, the Otten Associates team represents the best business partners I have ever encountered. They offer a broad range of resources and talents, and they are always ready to lend a hand when we face barriers requiring extra support. Ron and Susan have created an environment to attract exceptional new talent where people can not only be part of a growing business, but also a network of conscientious, well-balanced, altruistic professionals.
President & Chief Operating Officer
Not necessarily, we look for a variety of products, services and industries to balance our portfolio and make it stronger through diversification.
We carefully follow our proven process for selecting the right opportunities to determine if an idea or company will benefit by partnering with Otten Associates. We look for a combination of great products, great opportunities and great relationships—then, a great partnership will follow.
Yes! We enjoy working and mentoring young entrepreneurs. Passion and vision combined with experience and business connections is the formula for a growing company’s success.
Yes! Though we are based in the very entrepreneurial state of Minnesota, we are not limited by geography. We evaluate each opportunity on its own merit, not the zip or postal code.
We have an extensive network of business associates who know what we are looking for in opportunities. Plus, we are active in the entrepreneurial community in both competitions and mentoring.
Yes! We want to make sure we are protecting the intellectual property of the opportunities we are evaluating so we will be sure to complete a NDA before any sensitive information is shared.
As each opportunity is different, we work very hard to ensure all parties in the partnership are happy with the equity arrangement. We want to have solid (and fun!) working relationships.
We believe we are active participants, working hard with business owners to ensure mutual growth. We will not just write the check and walk away. We seek long-term, always-developing business relationships yielding positive returns for all parties involved.