Check out these five stories from across Montana that highlight entrepreneurship, the high tech sector, and everything else that makes Montana a great place!

Saint Mary Lake

Saint Mary Lake, Glacier NP

1. Outdoor Tourism and Marketing Technology Company, TOMIS, Looks to Expand Services, Hirings in Missoula

After spending several years in Silicon Valley learning about the high tech world, Evan Tipton returned to Missoula to found TOMIS (Tour Operator Marketing Intelligence Software). From the beginning, TOMIS has taken off and the company was named a High Growth Company to watch by the Montana High Tech Business Alliance. Now, it’s looking to continue its upward momentum in 2019.

TOMIS is marketing/intelligence automation platform for small- and medium-sized niche outdoor tour and experience operators, according to an article from the Montana High Tech Businesses Alliance. The software automates marketing processes, analyzes data, and makes recommendations on how to reach new customers. Last month, TOMIS closed a deal with Homestake Ventures, bringing their seed round to $800,000.

“Unlike Hilton Hotels, which has a hotel in, you know, every major city in the world, it’s hard to be a really good tour guide for every major city in the world,” said Greg Robinson, the lead data scientist, in the article. “You kind of need to be from there and have a big local community and have partners in your community.”

Click here to read the full story from the Montana High Tech Business Alliance.

2. Bitterroot Valley Highland Games Set for Saturday in Stevensville

Come celebrate Scottish and Celtic culture at 10 am. this Saturday during the fourth annual Bitterroot Valley Highland Games in Stevensville. There are nine events for men and women, including a hammer throw and a stone throw. Kids can also participate later in the Kids Highland Game in the afternoon for free.

“Anyone can register on the field at 9 a.m. and anyone can compete,” said organizer Garrett Middleton in an article from the Ravalli Republic. “If it is their first time, we only charge them $20 (experienced athletes pay $30). This is a great smaller games that give an idea of what the Highland Games are all about.”

Click here to learn more.

3. Students from 11 Countries Share Dishes at MSUB’s International Food Fair

On Thursday, MSU Billings hosted its 16th International Food Fair. The event showcased food from 11 different countries: Pakistan, Mexico, Japan, Germany, China, India, Saudi Arabia, Xinjiang China, South Korea, Kenya, and Bulgaria. According to an article from the Billings Gazette, 500 people attended the event.

Proceeds from the event went to the Multicultural Club at MSUB. There are 73 international students at MSUB according to its spring enrollment numbers.

“Not every one of us has the opportunity to move and go to countries and try their food,” said Manal Khawar, a student from Pakistan who was featured in the Gazette article. “Food is such a big aspect of your culture. It’s a very big cultural exchange.”

Click here to read the full story and to check out photos from the event.

4. Local Student’s Business Idea Places in Entrepreneurship Contest

A Twin Bridges High School student is celebrating this week after placing second in the statewide Montana Teenpreneur contest. Mhanon’s business idea, The Comfort Critter, proposes to develop an app linked animal toy that plays the owners voice in order to reduce pet anxiety. This is also the third consecutive year that teacher Jody Sandru’s students have earned top honors in the roundup.

More than 80 students participated this year in the entrepreneurship contest. There are two categories students can participate in: existing businesses and ideas for innovative new products and services. Sullivan will receive a cash prize award and be honored with other finalists during an award ceremony hosted by Gov. Steve Bullock.

“Mhanon is a shining example of the creativity, grit and business savvy that exists today among Montana teens,” said program manager Jim Masker in an article from the Madisonian. “We look forward to seeing the positive impact she will have on our state’s future.”

Click here to watch Sullivan’s pitch video.

5. Father and Son Keep Family Tradition Alive in Great Falls’ New Coin Store

On April 2, Great Falls Coins & More will open its doors to the public. The store is owned by the father-and-son team of David and Zachary Kelman. The store will carry numismatic currency, antique slot machines, billiard supplies, and firearms.

Coin collecting has been in the Kelman family for three generations. The Kelmans remember the eldest Kelman, Zachary’s grandfather Zollie, collected silver, Canadian coins, and non-silver coins out of the machines in his business American Music Co. The two Kelmans recalled family trips to coin shows over the years.

“I could buy about 10 or 11 1899, $1 Black Eagle notes for $100 back in the day and today they’re worth about $200-500 a piece,” David Kelman said in a Great Falls Tribune article. “Over the years he collected about 6,000 of them.”

Click here to learn more at the Kelmans and their store.

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