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Meet Dustan Bonnin of Catapult Intelligence in Kendall Square

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dustan Bonnin.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Dustan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Catapult’s offerings are a direct reflection of my background. Looking back, it was my grandfather who had the most influence upon me. He was a second-generation Swedish immigrant sharecropper from Lincoln, Nebraska who after high school in 1939 left the dust bowl for San Francisco. He learned on the job how to safely deliver electricity while wiring Liberty Ships during the War Years. In 1946, he and a partner started an electrical contracting company in Los Angeles. He was old school. He dared to achieve. You listened to what he had to say. He passed at the age of 93.

On my graduation from college he advised me on my entrance into the workforce: while effort is required it is not sufficient. Before running your technology-based business, Dustan, you must understand the fundamentals surrounding the product you are selling. That advice meant a lot of things, and I had a lot of work to do. Being the history major that I was, I started researching technological revolutions, including one happening at the time – biotechnology. A number of years later, I have put enough of the pieces together to have finally heeded his advice.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
On reflection, it was crazy to expect that a history major armed only with the advice of a caring relative could succeed in earning a living in biotech R&D. After thirteen years in academic and industrial labs, I did hit a ceiling as a research scientist. I left the lab to make use of my Patent Agent designation, only to find the market required PhD level education. After earning an MBA, I negotiated a large number of strategic partnerships with organizations globally only to have the financial crisis drive the biotech into Chapter 7. In 2011 I said enough, there has to be a better way and I went out on my own.

During the post-2011 years many of those around me said to get a day job in a field for which I was trained (what did that really mean for a degree in History?). Perhaps I agreed with them this time – at least until I earned the right to frame all of my experience in the context of business valuation. Now, finally, it all makes sense. Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA).

I have been on a little used career path (understatement) leading to a profession that seems to have chosen me, one that pays me to #neverstoplearning. My biggest challenge has been to maintain confidence in my known abilities, while allowing for discovery of those about which I did not know. After a certain number of years, many of us end up on a non-traditional path. I just started out that way. No regrets.

Today, I am able to provide clients with a defensible, expert opinion on the value of a small business that is leveraging patented technology. Supporting that capability is a demonstrable, expert level understanding of (i) technology & how it is leveraged, (ii) how to generate and defend intellectual property, and (iii) the valuation of businesses and their underlying intellectual assets. I would like to say that the development of this offering was by design, but frankly I am not that good. Just stubbornly attempting to heed some old advice.

Please tell us about Catapult Intelligence.
Founded in 2011, Catapult is an independent provider of valuation and advisory services to small businesses and professional service providers operating in an expanding number of industries. Recent client interactions include estimating the contribution of intangible assets to the value of an analytics firm, valuing the common stock of an emerging electrical generation company, and developing an IP strategy & drafting/filing a patent for a medical information management start-up.

Catapult works with professional service providers to generate an economic analysis of damages in the context of patent or complex commercial disputes. Our Founder is qualified to provide an economic analysis as a non-testifying expert in complex commercial disputes, or as a testifying expert in patent litigation.

We also help privately held, small businesses to create & define value. We are always excited to work with small business owners; they are the salt of the earth, the drivers of our economy, and they deserve more than our society is currently giving back to them. We try to respect these businesses by taking the time to immerse ourselves in the factors driving the business, linking these factors to the legal frameworks at hand, thereby generating defensible outcomes. We can cost-effectively achieve this level of involvement because we’ve been there ourselves, recognizing lessons learned the hard way.

Catapult is proud to be a BASE (Babson Alumni Supporting Entrepreneurs) Consultant. If you are a Babson-affiliated entrepreneur, you can find us on campus at the Blank Center. Find us on Twitter @CatapultForward #BabsonButler for dates/times.

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