Cuipo's Roots

While operating private real estate funds in Panama, Southern California natives Gus Hurst and Tom Murray witnessed the impact of deforestation firsthand. During a helicopter flyover, they noticed what appeared at first to be massive golf courses in the middle of lush rainforest land. Once they realized these swaths of empty land were not resort golf courses but the aftermath of deforestation, they knew they had to act. With their experience in real estate, Gus and Tom knew that the only way to ensure the preservation of rainforest was to purchase the land, and set it aside for permanent preservation.

Why The Name Cuipo?

The Cuipo tree is an endangered tree found in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. The Cuipo can reach a towering height of 60 meters (200 feet). The near threatened Harpy Eagle, the national bird of Panama, makes its nest at the top of the Cuipo tree. Often, it is one of the few trees left uncut after deforestation because its large size makes handling difficult.

Rather than inspiring millionaires to buy the land or convincing the Panamanian government to protect the land with policy, Gus and Tom decided that they would buy the land themselves and allow people to save it in very small increments. Thus Cuipo was born in 2008. Shortly thereafter they began purchasing swaths of primary rainforest land in Panama, donating 100% of land preserved to its nonprofit foundation One Meter at a Time, whose responsibility is to protect, preserve and educate.

A few years later, Gus shared Cuipo’s mission with his long time friend John Oswald, co-founder of the iconic Paul Frank brand. John, a member of the U.S. Green Building Council with a passion for sustainable design, was constructing his own green home at the time. After learning about the magnitude of deforestation, he was inspired to join Cuipo’s fight to protect and preserve tropical rainforest.

In 2010, John became Cuipo’s third co-founder. With his expertise in the apparel and licensing industries, John expanded the company’s vision to include a Cuipo product line and licensee program. The licensee program gives like-minded companies the opportunity to participate in Cuipo’s cause and add a purpose to their products.

Every Cuipo product sold, whether a t-shirt, bracelet or reusable water bottle, saves rainforest.

Gus Hurst is a co-founder and CEO of Cuipo

GUS HURST

Gus is also the CEO and co-founder of the Two Oceans funds, which have been acquiring, managing and developing real property in Panama since 2006. Prior to that, Gus co-founded G3 Investment Group, a wholesaler of clearing, execution, and software services that allowed hedge funds and active traders direct and real time access to the U.S. stock and options markets. He previously worked as an equities trader for L.H. Friend and Weinress, a boutique Southern California investment bank and on the floor of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange for the Stafford Group.

After graduating from the University of Southern California’s School of Business Administration with a dual degree in Real Estate Finance and Entrepreneurship, he worked as a credit analyst for both City National and First Business Bank, where he evaluated the bank’s commercial and real estate customers, specializing in restructuring debt and under-performing commercial real estate loans.

Tom Murray is a co-founder and President of Cuipo

TOM MURRAY

Tom Murray is a co-founder and President of Cuipo. He is responsible for developing and managing Cuipo’s efforts with non-profit fundraising and affiliations with media projects.

Tom is also a co-founder of the Two Oceans funds, which has been acquiring, managing and developing real property in the Republic of Panama since 2006. With more than thirty years of experience, Tom has a proven track record in launching, growing, and managing successful businesses within the real estate and high technology sectors.

After attending the University of Southern California’s School of Business Administration, he worked for Hewlett-Packard in South Africa, Europe, and the United States. He was a co-founder and investor in several successful start-up companies, including Baan Business Systems California. After managing consistent revenue performance in both sales and consulting, he orchestrated the acquisition of the company by Cerberus Capital Management, L.P a leading Wall Street hedge fund.

John Oswald is a co-founder, where he oversees the development of the Cuipo brand and all licensing activities.

JOHN OSWALD

Before Cuipo, John was a co-founder and former CEO of Paul Frank. The Paul Frank brand is well known for its popular icon, Julius, the famous monkey with the big red mouth. He started Paul Frank in a garage 14 years ago and he helped them achieve well over $300 million in sales during that timeframe. John helped build Paul Frank into a global brand with over 5,000 retailers, 120 global licensees, and 42 stand alone Paul Frank branded stores. In late 2010, John negotiated and completed the sale of Paul Frank to Saban Brands.

John has strived to live a sustainable lifestyle and is in the process of building one of the very few ‘green’ homes in Newport Beach, California. After creating one of the most recognizable brands in the world, John wanted to give back and do something that would have a positive affect on the environment. John has shifted his focus to guiding the development of the Cuipo brand and a new approach to protecting the environment.