First Interstate Bank hosts 130+ at Oct. 2015 Missoula Reception

By Christina Henderson, executive director

First Interstate Bank welcomed more than 130 guests to their downtown branch for the Montana High Tech Business Alliance’s reception in Missoula on October 22, 2015. Sue Larew, Vice President at FIB and member of the Alliance Board of Advisors, gave the opening remarks. One third of Alliance member firms are located in the Missoula area. Photos by Ndigena.

Connect: High-growth Companies Meet Missoula’s Growing Pool of Technical Talent


Thanks to the generous sponsorship of members MonTEC and the University of Montana School of Business Administration, select students in the new Montana Code School and Professor Jakki Mohr’s high-tech marketing class had the opportunity to network with potential future employers like Matt Conroy (center), Director of Engineering at SoFi in Helena and a member of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance Board of Advisors.

David Thompson, also a Director of Engineering at SoFi, gave a five-minute “lightning talk” on the company’s growth from two software engineers in the Helena office (Conroy and Thompson), to 48 in just a year and a half. Launched in 2011, SoFi is a San Francisco-based financial technology (FinTech) startup that raised $1 billion in September and to date has financed $4 billion in loans. SoFi’s entire software engineering team is now based in Helena. Thompson and Conroy plan to grow their Montana team to 100+ developers.

Promote: Lightning Talks Featured SoFi, onXmaps, and DataSmart Solutions


Eric Siegfried, founder of onXmaps in Missoula, launched his company in 2009 as a new graduate of Montana State University College of Engineering to solve his frustrations finding accurate land ownership maps while hunting in Montana. onXmaps now employs more than 40 people developing GPS plug-ins and the ROAM app for hunters and other outdoor recreation lifestyles.


Bernard Khomenko, Vice President of DataSmart Solutions, spoke about his company’s cutting edge work in healthcare data analytics. DataSmart has about 20 employees between their offices in Helena and Missoula and is partnering with major research institutions like Johns Hopkins.

Accelerate: CEO Roundtable Discusses Resources for Financing Business Growth


The Missoula CEO Roundtable featured discussion on ways Alliance members have formed strategic partnerships with lenders and investors to finance their companies’ growth. Paige Williams (right), founder of the Audience Awards in Missoula and a member of the Board of Directors for the Montana High Tech Business Alliance, spoke about her banking/advising relationship with Sue Larew of First Interstate Bank. Also pictured are James Scott (center), Assistant Vice President at First Interstate Bank, and John Fulcher (left), NW Region Account Manager for BGI Worldwide Logistics.

Luke Mauritse MI CEO Roundtable Missoula (600x403)

Luke Mauritsen, founder of Montana Instruments in Bozeman spoke about his partnership with Bob Gieseke and Rocky Mountain Bank. Mike Sparr, founder of Goomzee discussed multiple sources of financing he tapped to grow his Missoula business, including an investment from Missoula-based Good Works Ventures.

Attendees agreed to capture the knowledge shared at the table in a resource library hosted on the Alliance website that can help Montana startups understand their options for financing. Watch for in-depth coverage of this discussion in future newsletters.


Publisher: The Montana High Tech Business Alliance is a statewide membership organization made up of more than 240 high tech and manufacturing firms and affiliates. More information on the Alliance can be found at:

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