thinkSMART™ Games is a division of Mentor InterActive Inc. The company’s mission is to successfully merge entertainment, education and technology by creating and offering games that provide enriching experiences that build reading, vocabulary, math, and logical thinking skills.
Based in Boulder, CO, Mentor InterActive Inc. was founded in 2004 by faculty members of the Center for Computational Language and The Center for Spoken Language Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The company’s first published and marketed titles for the Nintendo DS portable console system. My Virtual Tutor: Reading and My Reading Tutor, are based on the proven Foundations to Literacy reading program, developed at CLEAR through a license granted by the University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office.
Mentor also holds licenses from the University of Colorado for speech recognition and facial animation technologies, and holds a license to develop titles for the Nintendo DS™ and Wii™. The company’s management team brings decades of business development and marketing experience to the production process. Mentor InterActive was named the 2009 Physical Science/Engineering/IT Company of the Year by the University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office.
Most recently with the addition of the thinkSMART Games series and the continued search for other successful International titles, Mentor is also excited about expanding its success with mobile applications that will meet their established standards of merging Entertainment, Education and Technology.
“With the success of the initial launch of our thinkSMART Series of games for kids, adults and the entire family, we realized the terrific interest in quality games that combine entertainment, thinking and education and decided to expand our lineup and more aggressively promote it online,” said Brian Kohn, President and CEO of Mentor InterActive, Inc. “We feel we’re responding to a real need and we’re excited to continue adding quality titles.”
Henry A. Kaplan, Chairman
Hank has over 25 years of experience as an executive and entrepreneur in the children’s interactive entertainment industry. He was co-founder and CEO of two New York City-based children’s interactive entertainment companies that developed and marketed children’s “edutainment” computer / video games worldwide. He was responsible for the overall direction of each company, with emphasis on establishing and maintaining relationships with major entertainment licensors, including Disney, Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, Sony Computer Entertainment and Microsoft. He also maintains close relationships with key global retailers and distributors.
Previously, he has worked in a large corporate environment, serving in a variety of capacities at CBS, including Executive Vice President of CBS Software and Vice President for Corporate Planning. Hank has a BA from Hunter College and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
Brian Kohn, President, CEO
Brian has 30 years of professional experience in domestic and international markets, with a proven record of sales growth, cost reduction and business development. He combines investment banking experience at Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse First Boston with 18 years of operating experience.
Brian was president of Colosseum Video L.L.C., a sports advertising and marketing company targeted to major pan-European advertisers. Prior to Colosseum, Mr. Kohn was president and chief executive officer of Mountainsmith, LLC a top US technical backpack/luggage manufacturer and chief operating officer and chief financial officer of SweetWater, Inc., a water technology company specializing in development, manufacture and sale of portable water filtration devices.
Brian’s investment banking experience includes time as vice president and member of the real estate investment committee at Goldman, Sachs & Co. that raised third-party capital and combined it with Goldman capital to invest in real estate transactions worldwide. Brian was educated at Syracuse University’s, School of Business Management, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in finance.
Eric Feiner, EVP Sales and Distribution
Eric has 18 years of experience in marketing and sales in the video game industry. He has a strong track record of building and maintaining strategic partnerships, content licensing, and promoting and selling consumer products both on-line and through traditional retail channels. Eric has managed both the launch and sales of numerous IP-based and franchise-based children’s video game products as well as related merchandise.
Eric is an MBA candidate from La Salle University and he holds a BBA in Marketing from George Washington University.
Sam Goldberg, EVP Publishing and Marketing
Sam has a successfully led numerous global marketing campaigns, brand building strategies and product launches in the interactive entertainment segment. As the head of worldwide marketing for Acclaim Entertainment, he played a key role as the company grew to be an industry leader in six years.
Sam has also consulted for many interactive, software and communication companies, including Take Two Interactive, Xerox, Microsulis, Southpeak Interactive, and Mad Catz. He has received several marketing awards including The AdAge Top 100 and a Marcom for Best Integrated Marketing Campaign of the year.
Some notable accomplishments and relationships include the Xerox “Digitally Cool” initiative; and licensing and product development expansions with all the major sports leagues, including the NBA, the NFL and Major League Baseball. He’s licensed and has been responsible for co-promotions with Warner Bros’. Batman franchise, MTV, King World, The Walt Disney Company, Nestle’s Crunch, Pepsico’s Doritos, and McDonalds.
He has a BS in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin, an MFA from Lehman College and a Masters in Elementary Education from Fordham University. He counts his five years of teaching special education and as a curriculum coordinator for New York City public and private schools among his most important influences.
Paul has sixteen years executive experience with video game companies Take-Two, The Microsoft Xbox Launch team, Acclaim North America and Impact, a leading supplier of licensed toys and school supplies.
Bill Coleman is a member of Mentor InterActive’s advisory board. Bill was a co-founder and first CEO of BEA Systems and is currently chairman, CEO, and founder of Cassatt Corp.
Barbara Wise, Ph.D.
Barbara Wise, Ph.D. is a world-renowned reading researcher, based at the University of Colorado, where she invented, developed and tested the pedagogy and teaching practices underlying the My Mentor product.
Sarel Van Vuuren Ph.D.
Sarel van Vuuren, Ph.D. is a co-founder of Mentor InterActive, Inc. and inventor of the FtL program. He currently heads technology development at the Center for Spoken Language Research, University of Colorado. A former Fulbright scholar, with more than 30 scientific publications, he has invented, developed, and optimized speech, data, and learning-centric technologies and products for fifteen years.
Ronald Cole, Ph.D.
Ron Cole , Ph.D. is a co-founder of Mentor InterActive, Inc. and an inventor of the FtL program. He is a former research professor and past director at the Center for Spoken Language Research, which he co-founded in 1998, at the University of Colorado . Ron has published over 150 articles in scientific journals and published conference proceedings.
Wayne Ward, Ph.D.
Wayne Ward, Ph.D. is a co-founder of Mentor InterActive, Inc. In 1998 he co-founded the Center for Spoken Language Research at the University of Colorado. From 1986-1998 Wayne worked in the speech group at Carnegie Mellon University. While there, he developed the Phoenix system for robust semantic parsing of spontaneous speech.