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Missoula Business, TOMIS, Wins SBDC ‘Shark Tank’ Competition

Tuesday, March 14, 2017/Categories: Market MT, Small Business Development Center Network

HELENA, Mont. – Missoula-based TOMIS won $5,000 to start their dream business at the Shark Tank live pitch business plan competition Tuesday in Helena. TOMIS, and two other Montana entrepreneurs, Cowboy Cricket Farms of Belgrade, and Easy Lift of Great Falls were selected by Montana Small Business Development Center “shark tank” judges to pitch their business ideas at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Recreation in front of an audience of nearly 400.

Each finalist was competing for a chance to win a $5,000 first place prize, a $2,500 second place prize, and a $1,000 third place prize. Cowboy Cricket Farms won second place, and Easy Lift won third place in the competition.

“We are excited to congratulate TOMIS on winning this year’s competition,” SBDC State Director Chad Moore said, “We cannot wait to see how each of these businesses develop and flourish because of this funding.”

Judges scored 15 aspiring entrepreneurs on the feasibility of their business plans and financial projections on March 13. The 15 selected were narrowed from a pool of 25 applicants earlier this month.

This was the Montana SBDC Network’s fourth annual “shark tank” competition. Tuesday’s finals were streamed live on Facebook. You can watch that video here:


  • First Place, TOMIS: Evan Tipton and his team created an automated marketing intelligence platform for tour operators. TOMIS helps tour operators manage marketing in the digital age, with products like search engine optimization, Google Adwords, email marketing, and more. TOMIS stands for Tour Operator Marketing Intelligence Software.
  • Second Place, Cowboy Cricket Farms: Kathleen and James Rolin produce crickets for human consumption, a growing food market. They raise the crickets in an 1,800-square-foot facility, producing 48,000 pounds of edible crickets that can be made into high protein snacks like cookies, powder, shakes, pasta sauce, and more.
  • Third Place, Easy Lift: Marty Harvie, Len Watkins, and John Kramarich invented and designed a one of a kind lift for all ½ ton and ¾ ton pick-up trucks. It is a loading system from the ground for four wheelers, snowmobiles, jet skis, golf carts and motorcycles, that remains level throughout the lifting process and rests on the top of a truck bed.


The Montana SBDC Network is funded in-part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Montana Department of Commerce that began in 1989. Over the course of its 28-year history, the Montana SBDC has assisted more than 29,000 Montana entrepreneurs and nearly 6,500 businesses. The Montana SBDC Lead Center, located in Helena, oversees administrative operations with satellite offices throughout the state. Montana SBDC's certified Business Consultants provide one-to-one management advising to small businesses at no cost to clients. For more information, visit


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