Before leading MTI as CEO and President, Jacob Martinez honed his leadership skills at the U.S. Army. He was then quickly promoted to sergeant and served two tours in Afghanistan.
This unique experience proved to be especially useful when the company experienced a 50% reduction in income, due to regulatory changes during the recession. Although it was a challenging time for MTI, Jacob credits this crucial period in company history with his ability to make quick decisions. These decisions were always made in the best interest of the organization, employees and customers alike.
Under Jacob’s leadership, Market Traders Institute not only recovered, but grew into a powerhouse. The company is now employing more than 150 highly motivated and dedicated employees worldwide. Today, Jacob Martinez continues to lead with this same dedication and decisiveness. Jacob has been spearheading initiatives, that broaden the company’s reach, while still honoring the 25-year legacy that began with his father’s vision to empower students through the right training and mentorship.
Although MTI has expanded its offerings beyond education; its customer-first mission continues to be at the heart of everything it does. The privately held company now offers products and services that support; Forex, stocks, options, and cryptocurrency traders through their entire journey from training to live trading. These products and services include; state-of-the-art software charting, cloud-based subscription services, live webinars, and world-class customer support.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
The business was started by my father, Jared Martinez back in 1995. He first saw the impact of Forex in the mid-1980s when the Yen strengthened against the US dollar causing his product cost to double. Since his art publishing business relied entirely on Japanese products for his art publishing business, the result was significant. However, it did get him thinking about how he could have doubled his money had it been held as Japanese Yen. By the ‘90s he began trading and become so good at it that he was teaching other traders how to be successful. From there, the idea of setting up an educational institution to help other traders sprung up and the rest is history. Long story short, inspiration can come from anywhere, even during the most difficult times in your life.
How does your company generate revenue?
MTI generates revenue with a 360-degree approach to Forex trading. This includes our best-in-class Forex education products, cutting-edge charting software, and expert trading services — all backed by our world-class customer service.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
The first few years, the company was profitable right away, around $250,000 or $300,000 a year. During this time it was establishing worldwide offices. Ten years later, that steady growth was bringing the company a couple million dollars in total income, still with only about $200,000 a year in education income. Then shortly after I joined the company in 2004, we rolled out a transitional concept that would bring us more control over our products and services.
From 2006 to 2008, MTI went from licensing our flagship product worldwide to staffing a fully in-house team that handled the direct sales to our students online and over the phone. This initiative lead us to go from about $200,000 a year in education sales to about $4 million. Then the recession hit, and regulation changed. Those two factors were very, very difficult for all involved. We persevered through that and brought our revenues back to roughly $4 million.
In 2011 and the years that followed, our revenue shot up to around $6 or $7 million. Since then we have been experiencing tremendous growth — earning a spot on Inc. 5000’s Fastest Growing Companies list for 4 consecutive years from 2015 to 2018.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I never doubted that we would be successful because we had a valuable product and valuable services that I knew would be profitable. With that being said, we did have a few years when the recession hit and regulation for our industry changed. We handled it by coming together, making difficult, but quick decisions as a team and coming out stronger and wiser.
How did you get your first customer?
We got our first customer through word of mouth. By the time the company was established my father was known in the industry as a successful Forex trader that frequently helped other traders on their path to success. From there word spread and we built up a loyal customer base.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Business is a formula, it’s not a fantasy. And understanding our formula of growth and understanding our formula of business is our key. We operate our marketing strategy in a very systematic way, with an understanding of its inner workings and the levers we need to pull to ensure the growth of our company.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
I had to change out most of the company’s leadership team. We had worked together for 10 years, but in order for the organization to continue to grow, we had to make the difficult decision to expand our skill sets. It wasn’t easy, but it was the right long term decision for the organization.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Understanding that Success is a Formula, not a Fantasy combined with the fact that I’m not willing to give up. I find a way to make the most of the opportunities and difficulties that come up. There’s always a take away from anything you do, the key is making sure you see it.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business? What does the future hold for your business?
Being able to thrive when others wanted to see us fail. Having the mental toughness to overcome any adverse situation …business and life is tough and knowing that no matter what has been thrown at us, we have the mental capacity to succeed.
What are you most excited about?
Leading a company that is changing lives every day for the better. We have empowered millions of traders along the way since starting this company and I can’t wait to see how many more we are able to help with our educational products and tools.
What business books have inspired you?
I love John C. Maxwell, pretty much anything he writes. I’m a huge fan, but my No. 1 book from him is “The 360° Leader.” My second favorite book is “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” by Patrick Lencioni. Those have been tremendous books to help me stay on top of my game as a leader for the organization.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
It was $500 for our company’s TradingforTatas.com fundraiser. So it wasn’t so much a purchase as it was a donation but it helped us exceed our $80,000 goal for AdventHealth Cancer Institute’s efforts to diagnose, treat and rehabilitate patients who have been affected by breast cancer. We reached $81,791 by holding our annual “Teeing for Ta-Tas” golf tournament, and matching donations from our employees, customers and vendors dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000.
First off, I don’t believe there is a final destination of success. I don’t believe you can ever achieve success. It is a state of mind that has “pit stops” along the way. When levels of success are achieved, it’s my responsibility to ensure we don’t get comfortable there, as there is always a higher level of success to be achieved.