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What distinguishes your company from similar ones? What is your strategy for cracking into a tough market? What technical challenges do you anticipate with the delivery of your product? How can you ensure your intellectual property is preserved? Representatives of startup companies from around southwest Montana answered these and other questions during a regional competition showcasing emerging technology companies in southwest Montana.

Held in Jabs Hall on the Montana State University campus in Bozeman, the event was one of three regional competitions, each featuring six technology companies. It was sponsored by Early Stage Montana, a nonprofit organization intended to accelerate the growth of emerging technology businesses in Montana and help those businesses get the mentoring and access to capital they need to grow and compete nationally and globally.

At the event, the six companies selected to participate made their pitches to a packed audience and a panel of five judges. Those companies were Alosant, a lifestyle management platform connecting planned communities to residents; Cowboy Cricket Farms, which offers technology-aided farming of crickets as a source of protein; DugalHealth, a company providing software tools to help people with Type 1 diabetes manage their disease; Ncentive, a company that offers software to help retain employees in the fast-food and retail sectors; Sellout, a next-generation event ticketing software platform; and Vaytricks, a company that builds universal content creation apps that can be used interchangeably on both a desktop computer and on mobile devices. 

Sellout earned the highest scores from the judges at the showcase, and Alosant was the runner-up. The two companies will be invited to participate in a weeklong “hyper-accelerator” program in Bozeman this July, where instructors and mentors will help the businesses’ leaders refine their business vision, strategies, plans and presentation, according to Julie Hitchcock with Early Stage Montana and Frontier Angels. The two companies will be joined by the winners of two other Montana regional competitions, which were held earlier this month in Billings and Missoula.

Early Stage Montana – which works to identify emerging technology companies from around the state and then connect them to funding, mentorship and contacts to help them grow faster – was launched earlier this year by eight community economic development and investment organizations. The organization is supported by a coalition of partners, including the Blackstone LaunchPad at MSU and its 406 Labs business accelerator program.

In addition to Sellout and Alosant, companies that will compete in the statewide showcase finals are Elation, which focuses on content and software tools to help reduce the epidemic of physician stress and burnout; WebBuy, which offers software that allows consumers to purchase a car online and complete the entire process from selection to financing in one place; Superior Traffic Services, mobile construction site traffic management equipment connected by Wi-Fi, wireless and satellite to significantly improve safety and reduce costs; and Elebase, a next-generation content management system for today’s data-driven and geo-targeted content needs.

The showcase finals will be held Saturday, Sept. 22, at MSU’s Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman. The event will be part of an all-day conference on accelerating the growth of the early-stage technology ecosystem in Montana.