Former Firstline CEO gets back into security, and more

Two-year test phase done, Elevate Marketing is ready for business in 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif.—After six years as CEO of Utah-based summer model alarm firm Firstline Security, Wright Thurston left his job in 2008 and set out for the California coast, where he founded Elevate Marketing Group, a different kind of summer-sales model company.

Elevate Marketing Group sells bundled services. For the past two years, Thurston has hired scores of young, mostly college students, to market-test his idea. His sales reps have sold Internet, phone and dish TV services to customers door-to-door. This year, Thurston plans to add IPTV and home security to the Elevate bundle.

 “Coming from the security industry, I realized that bundling additional services makes the customer more sticky. Customers are more excited about bundled offering versus one product,” he said.

“We can sell product like crazy, we’ve got a good sound training program; we’ve tested the operation to get the bugs out of the system; now it’s time to launch big,” he said.

Thurston announced Feb. 23 that he’d hired Pepperwood Partners to help find capital partners to expand operations.

How much financing do they have and how much are they looking for? “We’ve been in operation for two year so we have financing. What we’re looking for is additional financing so we can reach more goals. On the security side, we’d like to be able to hold our security customers in-house [as opposed to selling accounts to larger companies],” Thurston explained.

Elevate has its own digital phone service platform. “We bill and monitor and service our own customers,” he said. They’ve sold Dish Direct TV and “we hope in 3Q to expand to IPTV ... our goal is to have all of our own products and to bill and service customers in house,” he said.

Elevate will not offer two-way voice or landline-based home security systems: “All security system will be monitored via the Internet or cellular.”

What type of home security system will they sell? “We’re in discussion with different national providers. Before this year, we sold through dealer programs.”

Thurston said Elevate has sold bundled services to thousands of customers.

“We got through the test-market phase. Our goal is to be in 20 states by the end of the year. Some of that will depend on the financing. We’ll have more solid numbers and projections as we nail down our financial strategy,” Thurston said.

Thurston said he’s got 1,200 potential sales reps in his database. He’s got 20 full-time employees here in San Clemente, including some he’s tapped from Firstline.

Ben Ward is VP of sales: “He was a top VP for from Firstline and one of the best managers in the home security business.” Jordan Folsom is in charge of training and marketing for Elevate. “Jordan was the top sales rep for Firstline,” Thurston said. “We also have a talented operational team.  Jennifer Miller is our controller and we have a lot of operational employees who make the company work.”

Elevate’s motto is: “Bundle, save, give. We’re going to offer bundled products and services to American families, most of whom already pay separately for similar services. We’re going to upgrade their services to better products for a cheaper price. By giving them better technology at a lower price, we save them money. That’s part of our mission to save customers money and also to give back by contributing to charitable organizations.”