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Ken Fichtler

Founder and CEO


Ken Fichtler is a multi-time entrepreneur, angel investor, and proven leader who’s tackling the problem of real-time drug impairment testing with Gaize. Cannabis metabolism and associated levels of metabolites in the body are uncorrelated to impairment, leading to a significant challenge for law enforcement and business leaders who need to understand whether or not someone is actively impaired. Gaize is solving this problem with a self-contained, easily transportable product that measures experienced impairment in real-time using proprietary machine learning algorithms.

He was formerly the Director of Economic Development for the State of Montana, a cabinet-level, Governor-appointed position which he held for the second term of Governor Steve Bullock’s administration (2017-2021). In that role, he served as the state’s lead for recruiting new companies and workforce, helping Montana businesses access resources for growth, and was charged with creating an environment conducive to business growth. Ken’s team successfully recruited an average of one company to the state per quarter for four years – a hit rate that’s an order of magnitude above what previous administrations have achieved. Those companies have gone on to hire thousands of employees into high paying roles. His group also built the state's largest event for entrepreneurs and small businesses, the Innovate Montana Symposium, a 500-person multi-day event. Mr. Fichtler worked with the legislature to create a top ranked tax environment for businesses, and worked to ensure the passage of many bills designed to improve the economic situation for the State of Montana.

Mr. Fichtler was also responsible for the State of Montana's economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the outcomes of which were the 6th fastest economic recovery in the nation and extremely high rates of business survival. While managing the economic response to COVID-19, Ken created and managed a call center with over 20 employees from scratch for businesses in Montana to call with questions. He also oversaw the allocation of over $1.25 billion in stimulus funds during that time, including standing up a new technology platform to manage an extremely high volume of grant applications with a limited workforce.

Ken is also an active angel investor and advisor to startup businesses. His portfolio includes over 48 companies, several of which have successfully exited. He focuses his investing activity on scalable technology solutions to compelling societal challenges. Prior, Mr. Fichtler was the head of marketing during a successful turn-around effort at an infrared optics manufacturer in Bozeman, Montana. He refocused the company on high-margin products, developed tools that dramatically increased sales efficiency, and revamped the entirety of the company’s marketing and PR efforts. That resulted in a marked increase in both sales and profit margins. Ken also co-founded the first TEDx event in Montana, TEDxBozeman, which continues to attract over 500 people to the largest event of its kind in the state. TEDxBozeman has been featured by TED and WIRED magazine. Ken lives in Missoula, Montana with his family and enjoys a broad variety of outdoor activities.

Articles by Ken Fichtler

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