John Connors is a managing partner at Ignition Partners, a business software venture capital firm focused on helping entrepreneurs thrive.
Courtesy Ignition Partners.

“You can take on new assignments in areas you don’t really know, and if you recruit the right people, set the right goals and everybody works very, very hard, you can accomplish amazing things.”

That’s John Connors, a managing partner at Ignition Partners, a leading enterprise software investment company with more than $1.5 billion under management. Listen to this episode of "Can Do: Lessons from Savvy Montana Entrepreneurs" to learn about how Connors, who grew up among the ranches and oil rigs of eastern Montana, rose through the ranks of Microsoft's financial positions to become that company's Chief Financial Officer, and then a managing partner at Ignition.

Rep. Greg Gianforte meets with tech executives in Missoula, August 20, 2018.
Katy Spence

These are high times for Montana’s high-tech sector. According to the Montana High Tech Business Alliance, the industry is growing at almost 10 times the state’s overall economy, pays its workers nearly twice the median wage, and last year generated nearly $2 billion in revenue.

But some say the industry has a glaring problem, and point to an August roundtable in Missoula featuring high tech executives and Congressman Greg Gianforte. Ten executives participated in that meeting with Gianforte; all were white men.

Woman working at a computer. File photo.

Women make up about 40 percent of the nation’s overall high-tech workforce; including positions in marketing, accounting and human resources, according to Christina Henderson, executive director of the Montana High Tech Business. But that figure shrinks to 15 percent when it comes to high level executive and specialized technical positions.

Three Montana women talk about what it's like working in the state's high-tech sector.

Can Do: Storytelling Your Way to Success

Sep 21, 2018

On this week’s episode of "Can Do," Jennifer Sheets, a writer and English professor at the University of Montana, talks about her success in winning the 2018 John Ruffato Business Startup Challenge, along with $22,000 in start-up funding.

Sheets entered the competition with no business background or training. But her idea to create StorySquares won over the contest judges. It's a web-based writing platform for individuals, schools, and businesses that would let users complete a writing task from beginning to end using digital storyboarding methods.

BNSF Railway is promoting Libby as an area ripe for new rail-reliant development. The Kootenai Business Park is one of three industrial sites nationwide BNSF is spotlighting this year.

BNSF’s Certified Sites program identifies and promotes areas it deems “shovel-ready” for new businesses to set up shop. The designation is based on an evaluation of environmental standards, available utilities and existing infrastructure. It’s meant to lower risk for companies looking to develop quickly in an area that can speedily ship goods to market.