Pleasant Grove, Utah
Industry: Electronics & Aerospace
Products: Drone detection, tracking, and safety systems
CEO Timothy Bean co-founded the company with one goal: to make the airspace safe and secure in support of the drone economy.
Bean, an electrical engineer, says that he is a natural problem solver, and the bigger the problem, the more exciting it is. “That’s what an engineer lives for,” he says. And incorporating drones safely into the economy is one big, exciting problem.
“We started the company on the premise that the airspace needed to be secure to accommodate drones. Once the airspace was secure, drones could be fully integrated into the economy in a safe manner,” explains Bean, who co-founded the company with CTO Adam Robertson.
Drones are not toys. The U.S. drone industry grew from $40 million in 2012 to more than $1 billion in 2017, according to a study by McKinsey & Company. And large companies such as Amazon are paying attention.
“Drones are going to become an integral part of our lives, economies, neighborhoods, cities, and particularly in the way that we transport goods and services,” Bean adds. “They are here to stay, and as they become part of our economy, Fortem Technologies wants to ensure that it’s done in a safe and secure way.”
To support its mission, Fortem Technologies has produced the Fortem SkyDome. The product collects data about sky traffic in order to create airspace awareness. What is flying? Where? When?
“Knowing what is in the air allows business to take action,” Bean says. “The purpose of our software is to understand the pattern of life in the airspace as well as the intention of the travel. Once we understand that, we are able to coordinate an integrated response.”
Part of that integrated response is another product, the Fortem DroneHunter. The DroneHunter does what its name says: Once it is launched, it can find an intruding drone in an area, chase it, net it, and take it away.
“Our products report to us what is happening in the airspace,” Bean says. “As we collect data and understand what is travelling where, that allows us to let air taxis and the transportation of people and merchandise travel safely. We help the good drones do their job.”
The majority of employees at Fortem have backgrounds in computer science, electrical engineers, and mechanical engineering. “All the software development done by our employees is done in Pleasant Grove,” Bean says.
Since 2016, when Fortem Technologies started off with just two employees, the company has grown exponentially and now has more than 50 employees on staff. “A lot of our growth has come from word of mouth and trade shows,” Bean explains. “And Boeing found us and became an investor. That boosted our credibility in the market and the overall awareness of our company and mission.”
“Growth starts with an exciting vision,” he adds. “But then you have to prove yourself every day, every week, every month, and make progress toward that vision. And that progress must be visible to your customers and your investors.”
Today Fortem Technologies sells primarily to the corporate market, though the technology is of great interest to the government as well. “But commercial activities are our primary focus,” Bean says.
Challenges: Because Fortem works in an industry that changes every day, the company must be flexible as well. “Our products need to be seamless, no matter who uses them,” Bean explains. “We are solving problems and finding answers for the FAA, NASA, key corporations. It’s complicated, and staying on top of it is a daily exercise.”
Opportunities: New products. “We’ve got a great team, and we’re offering great products,” Bean says. “We’ve seen things really start to pay off. It’s exciting for our employees, our investors, and our customers. The world is waiting for drones to enter in a secure way, and we think we have the answers to deploy them in a way that works across the world.”
Needs: Closer relationships with customers. “We need to understand their challenges and stay ahead of them in our product development,” says Bean.