Drone enthusiasts in North Dakota got a nice present Christmas morning – a front page feature in the New York Times calling the North Dakota drone industry “A Silicon Valley for Drones.”

The article was published online Dec. 25 and hit the front page of the print edition on Dec. 26.

North Dakota drone industry

The author, The New York Times’ deputy tech editor Quentin Hardy, came to visit North Dakota a few months ago after an initial pitch from local drone marketing specialist, Brian Jorvig.  Hardy held a variety of interviews with leaders in the UAS industry across the state. The article focuses heavily on Fargo-based startup Botlink, a company building a software application for drones.

“California and New York want what we’ve got,” says Botlink founder and COO Shawn Muehler, referencing the experience and accessibility the UAS industry has in North Dakota.

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple also adds his two cents, stating that, “The potential up here is tremendous. It’s not about supporting a company or two; it’s creating the leading edge of an industry.”

Field of View, a startup based in Grand Forks that we wrote about here, is also mentioned in the article for their involvement in selling aerial sensing equipment. The company was also a presenter at Fargo’s annual Drone Focus conference, hosting a live Battle-Bots style drone flying competition.

Terri Zimmerman, Packet Digital founder and Botlink CEO, announced some progress on the two company’s joint venture to raise $15 million. Since that announcement in June, they have raised a reported $3 million, Zimmerman said.

“That’s like $14 million in Silicon Valley,” Ms. Zimmerman said, adding that Botlink wants to be the “Microsoft” of the drone industry.

North Dakota drone industry

Right there to the lower left!

Hardy throws a brief spotlight on the burgeoning tech scene in Fargo that was so heavily featured in the recent Fortune article, mentioning the now legendary tale of Microsoft’s acquisition of Great Plains Software for $1.1 billion in 2001.

Brian Jorvig, a marketing specialist who recently launched a marketing agency specifically catered towards the drone industry called Launchboxx, was instrumental in the article’s publication. He has been heavily promoting the North Dakota drone industry with the hashtag #dronesworkhere, and an emphasis on “building the drone patch.”

“This is definitely one of my proudest accomplishments as a marketing and PR professional,” he wrote in a Facbeook post, on Christmas day. “After an initial pitch, two trips to Las Vegas and a three-day tour of drone operations in North Dakota, The New York Times ran this story online today and it will appear in the print edition tomorrow. I’m incredibly proud to call Fargo home and I’m excited to share this with all of you!”

Read the full article here.


Photos courtesy of the New York Times.

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Marisa Jackels