The high-tech industry is thriving in Montana, growing at a rate seven times faster than other sectors.
Montana’s high-tech companies are expecting to add roughly 1,000 new jobs this year, paying an average salary of $60,000—more than double the median annual income in Montana.
The Montana High Tech Business Alliance counted a total of 546 tech companies in Montana as of December 20, 2016. Yet the organization says there are even more companies unaccounted for, as smaller companies may be hiding in remote business parks and second-floor offices without signage.
Much of the attention seems to be focused around the Universities. With Montana State University pumping out more qualified talent each year, as FICO Chief Executive Officer Will Lansing says, “the talent pool in this part of Montana has attracted dozens of leading technology firms.”
High Density of High Growth, High-Tech Companies
He wasn’t kidding either. Here’s a list of some of the most successful high-growth technology companies in Bozeman, Montana.
Ascent Vision, an aerospace technology company based in Bozeman, grew from two people to a team of 50 and made millions within just the first year of operation in 2013. Last year, the company began construction of a new 30,000 sq. ft. facility by Belgrade. It will be interesting to see how this company will grow with the rising demand for sensors in UAVs, counter UAS systems, self-driving cars, and ground based military applications.
Elixiter, a marketing services firm, averaged an astounding 100 percent growth rate year over year, landing on the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest growing companies in 2016. Having such rapid and unanticipated expansion, the company relocated four times in four years, finally settling on the northeast side of Bozeman.
FICO, a data analytics company for credit rating services, plans to add a new location in downtown Bozeman, and hire 50 new employees within the next 18 months. The company employs roughly 3,000 around the world, and is a recognized leader in analytic technology. FICO was ranked #31 among the Top Technology Providers in financial services by American Banker and BAI, and was also named to the Analytics 50 by Drexel University and CIO.com.
Foundant Technologies, is a “software-as-a-service” company in Bozeman that develops grant and scholarship management software, was also on the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest growing companies in 2016, but for the third consecutive year in a row.
PrintingForLess.com (PFL), while technically located in Livingston, Montana, is close enough to give credit to the Bozeman area. PFL landed on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies for three consecutive years, and appeared on CNBC, Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times for having innovative HR policies. Having established the first website for commercial printing, PFL has made significant progress since it was founded in 1996. It evolved from a traditional print shop into a sophisticated marketing technology company. It’s expecting significant growth in 2017 with its new software, named “Tactile Marketing Automation.”
Quiq, a firm that develops text messaging software for customer service, scored a $6.5 million investment last year—a great start after just being established in October 2015. Company CEO Mike Myer, a former employee of RightNow Technologies before it sold to Oracle for $1.8 billion, says it was an easy decision to choose to start this business in Bozeman. He says “Montana is a great place to recruit up-and-coming people, and not just recruiting, but retention and loyalty.”
Wisetail, a learning management software (LMS) company in Bozeman, is an inspiring entrepreneurial example. Amidst the most recent housing crisis, company founder, Justin Bigart, started the company with the ambition to repay his debts, refusing to consider bankruptcy as an option. His hard work and determination certainly paid off. Wisetail ranked #32 in Outside Magazine’s 100 Best Places to Work in 2016, named one of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in America by Inc., and one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 Best Small Businesses in America.