James Ontra and David Kopstein created a CD-Log, the compact disc catalog. Converting a storage closet, deep in the recesses of David’s family furniture store, into a computer studio, and build one of the first interactive catalogs. Essentially, it was an interactive presentation kiosk where customers could select a style of furniture and see it in different colors, woods and fabrics. This was long before the Internet was mainstream. James and David both had knowledge of and interest in programming, and David had experience in the retail furniture, the third generation, operating his family’s furniture business.
Several furniture manufacturers participated but stopped shy of paying for this new interactive technology. So goes the dream of early adopters.
As the first laptops with sight, sound and motion gained traction, so did a need for better presentations. James, as head of business development, directed sales for Micro Interactive’s Iguana and then iXL’s Pitchman, selling the first interactive presentation systems.
Other early adapters of presentation management were: IBM, NBC Olympics, Lucent Technologies, British Airways, Cigna, Hilton Hotels, MGM James Bond
During the dot com boom, James seized the opportunity to raise venture funding and spin out the Pitchman laptop presentation division of iXL. He became CEO. AlexAnndra left her fun job in advertising to join Iguana. Iguana Interactive not only developed and deployed the presentation management software for their clients, they also wrote, designed and built out the systems. It was a comprehensive, and typical of that time, software and services operation.
In less than two years, they developed applications for such prestigious clients as: NBA, NFL, Johnson Controls, American Express, Bravo, AMC, Mercedes-Benz.
But the boom went bust, the investors pulled out, and James and AlexAnndra were both out of a job.
From the ashes of Iguana Interactive, James and AlexAnndra start Ontra Presentations with a borrowed desk, a phone, and a license to the then discarded Iguana Interactive software. They had both worked at Iguana Interactive, James as the founder and CEO, Alex as the General Manager until the dot.com bust of late 2001.
They rebuilt the software and founded Ontra Presentations. After 90 days of grueling cold-calls, they landed ABC National Television Sales and Towers Perrin as their first clients.
Clients loved the Ontra Presenation’s ability to playback movie quality video and animated graphics, all while ensuring their sales team had the most up to date banded presentation content synchronized across their networks.
YouTube democratized digital video, and clients were no longer willing to pay a premium for video and animations in their presentations, even if the quality was better. Our software and consulting services business model was falling out of favor.
One client said to us, “Can’t you just make it work in PowerPoint?” We listened and developed PPTshare Slide Library for PowerPoint. It was a PC installed slide library for PowerPoint that synchronized to a central network folder.
St. John’s University
We developed PPTshuffle a hosted solution on our Cloud servers or installed enterprise on our clients’ networks.
Clients liked the solution because it:
Added the Presentation Builder to PPTshuffle, a presentation wizard that ensured FDA compliance while giving KOL speakers an easy, flexible tool to prepare their decks.
Everything we’ve learned, over 30+ cumulative years of developing presentation management software is built into Shufflrr. The practical knowledge, the technology, the users, successes and even the failures, are all integrated in to Shufflrr.
The result? An elegant, easy solution that still ensures brand and message compliance, while giving the team a quick way to create and share a new presentation.
And if we’ve learned anything over the years, all the great technology and features we can add, will never compensate for ease. It just has to be easy. Shufflrr is built to be easy.
Shufflrr is co-founded by the brother-sister team of James Ontra and AlexAnndra Ontra. The duo have worked together since 2000, developing and marketing presentation software. They founded their own company, Ontra Presentations, in 2002 with a borrowed desk, two phones and licensing rights to the Iguana Presentation system, which James swapped his employment contract to obtain. James and AlexAnndra cold-called prospects every day for eight hours a day, and within 90 days had landed ABC National Television Stations and Towers Perrin. Twelve years, seven different software applications (some discontinued some still going) and over 50 Fortune-level clients later, both are still developing presentation management solutions that help their clients share, shuffle and show their content.
While the technology has certainly changed over the years, and Shufflrr is the latest iteration, the market and the need is still the same. Business to business sales and training teams who need a fast, simple way to create, give and share presentations, all while ensuring brand and message compliance.
James is responsible for vision, strategy and technical development for Shufflrr. He brings over 30 years of entrepreneurial expertise and 20 years experience on both the sales and developmental sides of presentation management software.
From the software’s inception at Micro Interactive and continued development at iXL, to a recognized presentation software at Iguana Interactive, to the current application today, James has raised funds, directed sales, developed technology and has painstakingly worked to ensure that our software continually meets current market needs.
James is a natural-born entrepreneur, beginning with his college career at the University of Houston where he published “Houston’s Hottest” calendars, managed and helped found the “Velvet Elvis” pub, and printed T-shirts in his garage.
The US Small Business Administration in Houston, Texas named him “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1993.
AlexAnndra oversees Operations, including client services, sales and marketing. Over the years, as the company migrated from enterprise software with a range consulting services, (i.e. writing and designing presentations), to Shufflrr’s on-demand Cloud service, Alex advises Shufflrr clients through the process: from trial, to content architecture, through the launch, training and then on-going software upgrades. She’s hands-on.
Before co-founding the company, she made her mark in the world of advertising, rising through the ranks at international agencies DDB and Lowe & Partners SMS, as well as smaller creative hot shops, developing campaigns for blue-chip clients, like American Airlines, The New York State Lottery, Weight Watchers International, Priceline.com, Zales Corp. and American Home Products, to name a few.
AlexAnndra also serves as President of the Board for Dances Patrelle, a non-profit dance company in New York. She studies ballet, skis and sails. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
A true techie, Chris started writing BASIC programs on an Apple II at age five, and continually won national science fairs throughout high school. Though, he waited until graduating University of Guelph for Computer Science in 1999, to become a full-time professional developer. For over ten years, he focused on the financial industry, writing custom programs for Royal Bank of Canada, RBC Dexia, FMC (Financial Models Company) and SS&C Technologies. In 2011, he developed Charity Focus, the premier tool for finding information about 85,000 charities in Canada and released the SharePoint FBA Pack. Chris joined the Shufflrr team in 2012, where he serves as Chief Architect.
Patrick’s realm of responsibility lies within Business Development. He works with clients and prospects to help them understand the principles, processes and benefits of presentation management. Other responsibilities include handling the full sales cycle from conception to close, leading the charge of Shufflrr’s Customer Success and maintaining Client Relationships. Patrick comes from the start-up culture and brings energy, passion, determination and strict work ethic to Shufflrr.
“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”