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After graduating from the University of Montana, I set my sights on what I believed was the mecca for tech innovation: Silicon Valley. Just a few years into what could have been a long career of climbing the corporate ladder, I became completely fed up. The independence, innovation and problem-solving I was eager to join revealed itself as something else. I saw a dysfunctional cycle of dependence on venture capital that artificially added value, instead of profits earned by legitimately solving problems.

Also, perhaps, having grown up in the valley of Norm Maclean’s “A River Runs Through It,” I was indeed "haunted by waters." At any rate, Montana was calling.

In 2008, I turned my back on the Silicon Valley startup world and returned to Montana to test a new model of tech innovation. My company, Wisetail, began with no capital and no frills – just a serious compulsion to better connect people and solve problems.

From humble beginnings, we began competing in the $91 billion global market of eLearning. In this fast-growing and intensely competitive market, our small company at the base of Bozeman’s trail system has grown 100 percent per year and we are routinely winning contracts over larger $1 billion-plus tech competitors. My team is living proof that tech innovation can be different and better because of its rural roots, not in spite of them.

That’s why we want to say thank you to Montana and issue an open invitation: let us help you make this state even better. We launched “Wisetail Works” a few weeks ago as the company’s charitable giving apparatus with the mission of supporting social, economic development and environmental causes that make Montana such a great place to live, work and raise a family.

At Wisetail Works, we believe in the power of place. We believe in giving back to Montana, as this is the place that has inspired Wisetail’s success and fueled our growth.

Wisetail Works is currently taking submissions for projects seeking to employ a Wisetail system or in need of funding. If you have a project or a proposal to positively impact Montana’s social, economic or environmental welfare, we want to hear from you. Because we fundamentally believe in simplicity, our application is three questions:

1. What are you doing to improve Montana’s social environment, economic development opportunities and/or Montana’s environmental heritage?

2. How can Wisetail help you achieve your goals?

3. How do you plan to inspire others to help you achieve your goals?

Please include any relevant deadlines or upcoming initiatives to help guide our selection process. You can send Wisetail Works proposals to: works@wisetail.com

Justin Bigart is the CEO and founder of Bozeman-based learning management software company Wisetail. Bigart grew up in Missoula and is a graduate of the University of Montana Business School.  

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