You can feel the vibrant spirit of every entrepreneur you come into touch with in Montana. They’re excited to be representing Montana traditions, continuing legacies for upcoming Montana generations, or helping build the community that they grew up in. If you’re reading this, you’re probably either one of those entrepreneurs, or inspire to be. So you know what I mean when I say, there’s just something different about the Montana entrepreneur.
For the aspiring Montana entrepreneur, I’ve compiled a list of the best resources in Montana to use when starting a business, or for helping a business grow. All of the resources provided help in multiple categories of business, and are all Montana startups as well.
Montana High Tech Business Alliance
Greg Gianforte, a University of Montana distinguished entrepreneur, and founder of RightNow Technologies, founded the Montana High-Tech Alliance. The Montana High Tech Business Alliance is a non-profit organization that is “a business-led initiative helping high-tech companies create high-paying jobs in Montana.” This entrepreneurial initiative allows for young high-tech companies to get much needed support and recognition, while also serving more mature high-tech companies in Montana by creating events in which they can share difficulties their company is facing, meet other business owners and entrepreneurs from across the state, and even post job openings.
Christina Henderson, the executive director of the MHTBC, has helped grow this organization to over 180 high-tech and manufacturing members. A complete list of these members can be found here. Membership is free for companies with 5 employees or less. Ultimately, this organization can help entrepreneurs in Montana spur economic growth and provide high-paying jobs for hard-working Montanans.
Blackstone Launchpad – Bozeman and Missoula
The Blackstone Launchpad in Bozeman and Missoula, is helping to drive economic development in communities around partner universities and increase the likelihood that students and alumni remain in the region to pursue their passions or fix problems in their community. The state of Montana’s university network houses 2 of the 15 unique and rare spaces in the United States. These sites offer free consulting to students with an idea and connect new relationships with other helpful business areas like legal counsel, accounting, marketing, and finance. Paul Gladen and Les Craig, both of whom have a long list of successful start-ups and entrepreneurial endeavors, are directors and consultants to students.
There is no cost to joining, and the help given from these two entrepreneurs is directed to helping an entrepreneur in their journey, not doing the due diligence for them. The process taught in the Launchpad can help an entrepreneur pursue small business and entrepreneurship as a career. Signing up for the Blackstone Launchpad in Missoula or Bozeman takes only a couple minutes, and can create a lifelong journey.
Whether in need of interns, seed funding or business mentoring, MonTEC is the point of connection for entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to navigate the complex world of service providers and gain access to high quality resources. 1GB internet access, small and large conference rooms, common collaboration areas, and outstanding video conferencing are just a few of things that MonTEC offers to the companies within. The areas are meant to be inexpensive and act more as a business incubator, to help companies get on their feet. Some of the companies that are currently taking advantage of the great resources at MonTEC are the infamous Mamalode and Rivertop Renewables, and even the High Tech Alliance is located within the MonTEC building. The Blackstone Launchpad also is in close connection to this service and works hand-in-hand with companies that need some office space.
Joe Fanguy, one of the founders of MonTEC, has been working tirelessly with the companies within and has helped to raise over $30 million in funding from external resources to help these businesses thrive. The funding and the services the companies in MonTEC provide help Montana industries and companies in renewable chemistry, oil and gas analytical services, big data/e-discovery, pharmaceuticals, health care data analytics, publishing, and online video delivery.
Montana CDC – Bozeman and Missoula
The Montana CDC is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide financing and consulting services that transform the lives of individuals and strengthen community prosperity. In the state of Montana, sometimes it can be difficult to get funding through local lenders. Especially for a company that’s a little off the beaten path or not considered “bankable.” The Montana CDC works to understand an entrepreneur’s ideas, and the entrepreneurs themselves, then works to improve financial healthiness through their consulting services to not only help start a company, but also to help its growth.
A lot of the inspiration for giving these Montana entrepreneurs their first chance may come from the CEO, Dave Glaser, who was formerly an environmental science consultant and COO for an environmental consulting firm. His company has given around 165 loans to companies around the state including a flower shop, an original jerky company, handcrafted wooden kitchen utensils, or even a one-of-a-kind Montessori school. More information about success stories can be found here, and what the Montana CDC can do for you can be found on their website.