Missoula-based onXmaps Inc. has closed a $20.3 million funding round led by Summit Partners, an international growth equity firm.
It is the largest growth equity investment in a mobile- and consumer-focused business in Montana history.
The high-tech backcountry navigation innovator also just completed construction of its new headquarters on Brooks Street in Missoula’s Midtown district and is growing a second team in Bozeman. Nearly 70 employees work between the two offices.
And over the next several years, onX plans to hire more than two dozen additional employees, fueled by the new investment.
“This investment enables us to take our solutions and our team to the next level,” said company founder and CEO Eric Siegfried.
Jason Mittelstaedt, founding partner at Yellowstone Growth Partners and an onX board member, has worked with Siegfried for almost three years and said he believes the company is just getting started.
“A growth equity financing of this caliber, by a Montana company, is testament to onX’s vision and resolve to build best-in-class products for customers,” Mittelstaedt said.
Mittelstaedt and his YGP co-founders, Susan Carstensen and David Vap, worked with Summit Partners during their time at RightNow Technologies and helped bring onX to Summit’s attention.
Greg Goldfarb, Summit Partners managing director and an onX board member, said onX represents a unique combination of culture, product-market fit, ambition and demonstrated success, making it an exciting opportunity for investment.
“In many ways, the onX story represents the quintessential entrepreneurial journey,” Goldfarb said. “Eric founded onX to address a major gap in the outdoor recreation market and bootstrapped the business to an impressive scale.”
Siegfried, a Montana State University engineering graduate, was just 26 when he founded onX in 2009, intent on creating a product that would disrupt backcountry navigation.
At the time, property boundaries were nearly impossible to discern in the field without careful and tedious preparation, even with the best GPS units.
So Siegfried started with a product that allowed a GPS unit to display property boundary maps while a user was in the field. Hunters and backcountry explorers could, and still can, purchase the Hunt GPS Chip to overlay statewide property boundaries and landowner names, hunting districts, roads, trails and access points onto a GPS device display.
But Siegfried could see how the market was growing and expanded onX’s attention to include mobile apps just in time for the smartphone boom. Few people know that the GPS in a smartphone works all the time, even when there isn’t cellphone coverage.
“We have been blessed with the gift of great timing and are very thankful for it,” he said.
The company’s innovative Hunt app allows users to download maps and save them. When they go off the grid, onX Hunt allows them to see where they are in relation to property boundaries on the saved maps.
Today, onX has hundreds of thousands of members, and more than a million people use the free version of the app regularly. Siegfried said that’s a testament to the company’s intense focus on making customers happy.
But the next phase of growth is crucial for onX, according to Jeff Lutzenberger, the engineering director heading the company’s engineering steam in Bozeman.
“We’re looking for kind, thoughtful, intelligent, creative people,” Lutzenberger said. “We attract passionate people that care about their health and the outdoors. It’s this holistic sort of personality you can attract in a beautiful place like Montana.”
Billings native Jourdan Lipp is a mobile software developer at onX’s main office in Missoula. After graduating from Montana State University with a computer science degree in 2014, he got a job with onX working on the Hunt app.
Lipp has been with onX for three years and said he’s seen the company grow from a dozen employees to more than 70. He himself went from working in a basement to working in the company’s new building in Missoula.
Lipp said the team at onX is exceptional because they have an exceptional leader who cares so much about helping both customers and employees.
“I get a lot of satisfaction working on a product that I use every day,” Lipp said. “It’s really cool that I can write something and then take it outside and see how it works. We do a lot of fun testing.”
Katy Spence is staff writer and digital content specialist for the Montana High Tech Business Alliance.