Skip to content

Friday Five: May 24, 2019

Check out these five stories from across Montana that highlight entrepreneurs and other great events going on in Montana!

Little girl kayaking on Whitefish Lake

1. Figure Technologies in Helena Luring Engineers to Montana

A Helena startup company is attracting attention in the high tech world as it continues to draw eyes to Montana.

Figure Technologies was founded by Mike Cagney, a former co-founder and CEO of SoFi. Figure is focused on home equity. According to the Helena Independent Record, the company sells products that allow customers quick, low-cost access to the equity in their homes. The company’s success is due to its use of blockchain technology, which is a growing list of information that is linked using cryptography.

“Our founder had such a good experience with Montana technology and engineering last time around, that from the ground up, we put our major engineering talent in Montana,” said Otto Pohl, Figure’s director of communications.

Click here to learn more about Figure.

2. Crafting the Perfect Wader: The Simms Fishing Products Story

K.C. Walsh became a die-hard fly fisherman at 9-years old. As an adult, he began looking to acquire a company in the Rocky Mountain West. Specifically, he wanted to make Montana home.

“The reason I wanted to live in Montana was pretty simple,” he said. “When I was 12 years old, I came up here with my grandfather on a fishing trip on the Bitterroot River. It was one of the best experiences of my youth, and after that trip I wanted to live in Montana someday.”

Walsh’s wishes came true when in 1993 he acquired a fly fishing manufacturing company called Simms Fishing Products.

Click here to learn more about SIMMS.

3. Q + A: The Laundry Liberator

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, and every business plays a critical role in keeping Montana’s towns vibrant. The Treasure State consistently ranks among the top five in reports from the Kauffman Foundation in rates of business ownership and business sustainability.

In our Q and A series, we’ll introduce you to some of Montana’s brightest and best entrepreneurs from all corners of the state. These businesses are involved in a variety of industries including hospitality, retail, and food.

Let’s head to Bozeman and meet business owner Monica Duling!

Click here to learn about the Laundry Liberator!

4. ClassOne Recognized for Export Success

Last week, ClassOne Technologies in Evergreen was recognized as the 2018 Montana Exporter of the Year by the Montana Department of Commerce.

According to the Daily Inter Lake, ClassOne designs, builds, tests and ships production equipment used to manufacture microchips. The business also has a technical development center south of Kalispell. In 2016, the company took in $2.2 million from foreign sales and $6 million in 2018. ClassOne has also grown from 45 to 75 employees.

“It’s a testament to this team,” said CEO Bryan Exarcos in the article. “This is one of the best engineering teams in the U.S. This couldn’t have happened to a better group of people.”

To learn more about ClassOne, click here.

5. Montana Company Uses New Technology to Help Beekeepers

An app out of Missoula is helping beekeepers by using an idea that stemmed from the Department of Defense.

Bee Health Guru stemmed from a decade-old Department of Defense idea to use bees to find landmines. The idea was that military camps would have their own colony. But then the creators questioned how the soldiers would know if the bees were healthy? That’s where the app came in.

“Originally the Bee Health Guru was designed to help soldiers who had never kept bees to be able to keep healthy bees,” said University of Montana professor David Firth in a KRTV article. “And then we realized there’s hundreds of thousands of beekeepers around the world who can use a smartphone app to help them keep healthy bees.”

The app is expected to launch May 30. To watch a video, click here.

Subscribe to Make Montana Home

Like what you see? Sign up to get our latest articles via email!