Spirit of Enterprise National Founder of the Year

2016 Honoree: Mario Martinez II

Work hard, have fun, and make a difference.

That's the mantra for Mario Martinez II, the 2016 Spirit of Enterprise National Founder of the Year.

In 2006, Mario founded 360 Vantage, a provider of cloud-based mobile sales and marketing systems for healthcare and life sciences organizations. He led the company as CEO until it was acquired by IMS Health in 2013. Today, he's working hard, having fun, and making a difference as an angel investor, startup advisor, and leader in Arizona's growing tech community.

No matter what he's doing – whether he's mentoring entrepreneurs struggling to find traction for their young companies or working with other successful CEOs to nourish Arizona's startup ecosystem – Mario focuses on identifying problems and coming up with solutions. "True innovation in my mind is about solving problems with products that are faster, cheaper, and significantly better than current options – or creating a new category all together. Think big and go fast. The market is not going to wait for you."

Today, Mario is managing director of MRTNZ Ventures, which invests in early stage technology companies. He's also a co-founder of the StartupAZ Foundation, part of the team that launched the #yesphx movement, and past chairman of Invest Southwest. He is a board member with the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a past board member at the Arizona Technology Council, and past vice chairman of Arizona BioIndustry Association (AZBio).

His business expertise means that as an investor and advisor, Mario knows what questions to ask and how to help develop strategies to get things done. "My approach to a successful life and career is simply declaring what you want to accomplish and setting clear objectives to get to there."

Born and raised in New York City until his teen years, Mario was inspired by his father – a man who was a U.S. Marine and an NYPD officer and owned his own construction business before diving into technology and then real estate. "My dad's ability to select, learn, and transition to anything he had an interest in helped me realize that anything is possible and accessible, you just need to know what you want and go for it."

Mario and his wife, Kelly, were high school sweethearts. They had their first child, a son, when Mario was 19, and a daughter soon thereafter. Mario jokes that his kids – who have grown up alongside his business ventures – can take the credit for his successes. Seriously, he says, it is his kids that he's most proud of, and their success that he most enjoys.

In addition to supporting entrepreneurs, Mario spends time helping local at-risk youth. He is a past board member of ICAN: Positive Programs for Chandler's Youth and believes in the power of showing young men and women that they have options in life.

From the entrepreneurs he mentors and invests in to his own children as well as those he has supported in the community, Mario's advice applies equally: "Be opportunistic, take risks, but stay focused. We all have the same amount of time; the difference is in how we invest it."