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

Photo of members at Bozeman reception 2014
Photo of members at Bozeman reception 2014

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.

Walker Milhoan, UM alumni, gives pitch for Ranchlogs to Blackstone Launchpad New York, New York.

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.

MonTEC

MonTEC, home to: Rivertop Renewables, Mamalode, the Montana High Tech Business Alliance, and more.

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

Montana CDC entrepreneurs

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.

  • I’m not sure who put this list together but it’s woefully incomplete.

    Off the top of my head:

    Prospera
    Montana Business Expansion and Retention (BEAR)
    Bozeman Technology Incubator
    Northern Rocky Mtn. Economic Development District
    The Shop in Helena
    Ascendant Advisory Group
    Compass Advisers
    Montana Programmers
    Frontier Angel Fund
    Bootstrap Montana
    Montana High Tech Business Alliance
    Montana Photonics Industry Alliance

    and last but not least, the organization that I run, StartupBozeman.

    There are many more but most are geographically focused and some have industry focuses.

    • aw125388@gmail.com

      There are a lot of really great resources in the state, thanks for sharing. It’s so much fun living in a state that is so active. Hopefully an entrepreneur reading this post will stop by if they live in the neighborhood.

  • This list is lacking many resources that are available around the state. How did you choose only these?

    • aw125388@gmail.com

      You’re right, there are a lot of really great resources in Montana, and not every resource is included in this list. I attempted to put together a list that would complement the whole state economically through industry and type of entrepreneur in the largest entrepreneurial meccas in the state: Bozeman and Missoula. Also, for three types of entrepreneur: the young and inexperienced in the Blackstone Launchpad; entrepreneurs who have a credit line and are ready to take on debt and receive consulting with the Montana CDC; more seasoned and veteran entrepreneurs taking on the high-tech realm to work together and bring high paying jobs to the state of Montana with the Montana High Tech Business Alliance.