During the 2018 Business Days at the Capitol, one of the featured panels focused on entrepreneurs in Montana and specifically the high tech sector.
The panel was moderated by Next Frontier Capital founder Will Price and featured Submittable founder Michael FitzGerald, onXmaps founder Eric Siegfried and Dr. Zeb Barber with the Montana State University Spectrum Lab.
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Amita Greer wanted a career change, and she found the perfect opportunity at the Montana Code School in Missoula.
“Working at the Missoula Small Business Development Center (SBDC) I had worked with small businesses before,” she said. “I was familiar with the entrepreneurship environment. I loved working in that smaller startup scene and I thought, ‘What’s a good industry to get into?’ Obviously tech. Especially with coding, those skills are valuable, in demand and transferable.”
Greer is one of many Montanans who have joined the growing legion of students and workers learning the ropes of computer coding.
Lizzy Duffy moved back to Montana for love.
After her then-boyfriend (and now fiancé) expressed an interest in moving to Helena to be closer to his family, Duffy knew she wanted to make the move as well. As the duo prepared to move from Portland, Ore., Duffy didn’t have a job waiting in Montana. When she told her company, Sparkloft Media, that she was moving to Montana, Duffy didn’t ask if she could telecommute for work.
“I thought there was no reason for me to work out of Helena, Mont. as far as the office expanding,” Duffy said. “But my company prioritizes people’s personal lives as much as their work. A happy employee makes for better work.”
When Duffy moved to Montana in May, she found herself as part of the new, growing workforce of telecommuters in Big Sky Country.
Next Frontier Capital is a venture capital fund in Bozeman that was founded in 2015. Next Frontier Capital’s newest partner, Les Craig, took some time to answer some questions about the company, venture capital investing in Montana, and Montana’s entrepreneurial makeup.
1. What is Next Frontier Capital?
Next Frontier Capital is Montana’s most active venture capital fund. Our mission is to provide access to early stage capital (Seed and Series A) in the Northern Rocky Mountain Region, with a strong preference for Montana based companies. We partner with mission-driven, talented entrepreneurs to build high-growth potential companies of impact, utility, and value.
Small Towns, Big Tech
Big tech companies can thrive in small communities. And when these communities have strong entrepreneurial support networks, much is possible.
Hoplite Industries is a Montana-based cybersecurity company. It is one of at least 15 spinoff companies started by RightNow Technologies employees in the 2010s.
Montana’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
Why do big tech companies flourish in Montana?
- Lifestyle – Living in Montana means a short commute to work and quick access to numerous outdoor activities.
- Community – Montana has become fertile ground for entrepreneurial activity because of its strong support networks, from support organizations to individualized mentoring.
To learn more about Montana’s unique opportunities for entrepreneurs, read the Kauffman Foundation’s report, “A New Frontier: Entrepreneurship Ecosystems in Bozeman and Missoula, Montana”.