With major help from a Northwest Montana investment fund, IgniteFeedback of Bozeman has raised more than $300,000 toward its startup goal.
“We’re a pretty new company. We incorporated in February and we’ve been fundraising the last couple of months,” Chief Executive Officer Ben Werner said. “The money is in the bank and we’re moving into execution mode.”
“By making surveys that are contextual, we can get a really surgical view at the customer as far as what their needs are,” Werner said.
The primary backer is Frontier Fund 2 based in Polson.
Liz Marchi, managing director of Frontier Fund 2, said in a press release that the investment firm was interested in IgniteFeedback because of its team’s experience and ambition to go after a $20 billion market.
In recent months, IgniteFeedback has also attracted investors from around the country. The most recent investment came in on Tuesday, officially bumping IgniteFeedback over the $300,000 mark.
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., talked about the emerging Bozeman tech firm.
“The startup scene continues to heat up in our state and provide new opportunities for jobs and economic growth,” Daines said. “This news is more proof that you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to create something amazing. Montana is well known for world-class outdoor recreation, but fewer people know the Kauffman Foundation ranked us No. 1 in the nation for startup activity as well.”
Werner and IgniteFeedback co-founder Eddie McDaniel worked together at RightNow Technologies in Bozeman. After the company was sold in 2011, Werner took a job at Microsoft in Seattle. Missing the mountains, he moved back to Montana last year and started IgniteFeedback with McDaniel in February.
IgniteFeedback already has a dozen customers, including a few Montana companies, using its scorecards but hasn’t released the product into the market. The idea is to work out the final bugs before the big release.
“We’re definitely taking more of an authentic and genuine approach with our startup, which is that you can do better in Montana than in Silicon Valley,” Werner said. “You can get away with some stuff in Silicon Valley that you just can’t here in Montana.”
After raising three-quarters of its $400,000 goal, IgniteFeedback also announced that it is opening four staff positions: two developers, a marketing and a sales position. Werner said he’s also looking for a catchall, utility position for someone who has the tech skills but might not fit into the first four specific roles.
“We just believe sometimes people don’t fit into a nice little bucket, but they might have some talent,” Werner said.
Werner said candidates don’t have to live in Bozeman to be considered. The tech company is hoping to reach the largest markets possible in the coming years.
“We’re serving a worldwide market, and it’s a piece of a $20 billion market,” Werner said. “There are companies in Montana that we would love to have as customers but there’s no reason why we’re going to stop there.”
Moving into execution mode, IgniteFeedback hopes to expand its customer base by offering Montana companies a 50 percent discount on its services through early October.