Sen. Tester holds small business workshop

Bozeman Daily Chronicle

by Jason Bacaj

Small business owners packed into Montana State University’s Gaines Hall Friday for a workshop outlining opportunities for small companies in this economy.

Hosted in part by the university, the city of Bozeman and U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, the workshop was spurred by the “huge influx of business startups” in Montana, said Bozeman Mayor Sean Becker, who also works as a business advisor with the Montana Community Development Corporation. He attributes the spike in new businesses to people getting exhausted by the recession and trying new things.

There’s also ample opportunity lately around the Bozeman area, particularly in the tech industry, said Rob Irizarry, founder of and former director of product management at RightNow Technologies. He left the company after it was bought by Oracle and said that he isn’t the only one who has left to strike out alone.

While the list of speakers included Tony James, president and COO of the multi-billion dollar Blackstone Group, who spoke about the factors his company analyzes before investing in a company, the most important part of the workshop was letting entrepreneurs know what types of funding are available and networks out there, Becker said.

“Most folks think they’re on their own,” Becker said.

The roughly 200 attendees ranged from EcoMatrix Solutions, a sustainable concrete company, to, a seasonal job aggregator.

One company, Bozeman-based CrossTX, agreed with Becker. The company provides cloud-based management software for healthcare professionals and has been bootstrapping for about two years, said Dr. Terry Nybo, chief medical officer. Now the business is ready to expand and is looking for investors, he said.

Many businesses have started up recently and Irizarry and Becker are confident there will be more to come.

“The time is here,” Irizarry said.