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While the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic fallout has been a gut punch to many industries and businesses, some in Bozeman — especially those that already focused on virtual services or had remote workers — have seen business boom during the pandemic.

When the pandemic began, XY Planning Network already had work-from-home infrastructure ready to go.

“We started out as a virtual-based business, and we had team members in a few different places,” said CEO and co-founder Alan Moore. That was in 2014, when the financial services business first began. Moore later decided that the headquarters should be here in Bozeman, where he was living.

But having that infrastructure helped around this time last year when much of the world went remote.

“We were able to continue on without any business disruption,” Moore said. “Some of the big changes are just that we have not been able to get together to work form the office, no more happy hours, no more team events, but we have still been able to grow and bring on new team members.”

XY Planning Network provides support to financial analysts who are starting their own business. Moore described it as an “entrepreneurship enablement platform” that helps analysts get their own business up and running with a host of services like marketing and IT support.

When the pandemic first began, Moore said, business dropped off. But then, as families who had lost income struggled to budget and enlisted the help of financial advisers, it boomed.

“What we have seen is this huge surge in demand for financial planning and that consumers were looking for a financial planner to help them navigate the financial realities of the pandemic,” Moore said. “Members saw a pretty big surge in business … they found a lot of success just because they were well positioned to help those consumers.”

Profitable Ideas Exchange saw more interest in its services during the pandemic. Matt Ulrich, partner and managing director, said the company creates “virtual peer communities” and facilitates discussions to help executives at different companies in the same industry learn from one another on a wide range of topics, like racial diversity in companies or whether there’s going to be a recession.

“We like to say at PIE that we make the world smarter and smaller, and we do that by building and empowering those executive communities so that CFOs can learn from other CFOS, and COOs can learn from other COOs,” Ulrich said. “We provide a format so that they can learn from each other in a time efficient way virtually.”

The growth allowed them to hire more people. In the past year, Ulrich said, PIE has brought on around 20 new employees. During the uncertainty that was 2020, that felt like a success.

“In the pandemic world that we’re living in right now, I think the need for our services has drastically gone up and allows us to create cool new opportunities for people in the Bozeman area here,” he said.

Stephanie Cole, also a managing director and partner at PIE, echoed Ulrich’s sentiment on why the company had grown as it had during the pandemic.

“Part of the genesis of the company is that people could be located anywhere throughout the world and be able to stay in contact with customers and prospects,” she said. “Particularly in this environment where people aren’t able to travel, people are looking for community … we might have 15 people dialed in from 5 different countries, and our team is facilitating the conversation based on needs that we’ve heard in the marketplace.”

Pine Cove Consulting also grew its customer base during the pandemic. The company started in 1992 and creates and sells tech solutions to businesses and organizations like school districts, which is part of why it’s seen such growth in 2020 — Pine Cove was well positioned to help districts transition into remote teaching and provide support for the technology used to connect students and teachers. It also expanded into security technology like security cameras in recent years, another growing market.

“We’ll come in and design a solution for you, and you can buy that solution from us,” Vancleeve said. Those solutions can be a wide range of things, from just buying hardware to buying a whole system complete with IT support. “Then we will come in and install it and implement whatever technology that is.”

In part, the growth can be attributed to CARES Act funding, Vancleeve said. Some of the services that funding could be used for are services that Pine Cove provides.

“They needed to make some of these advancements, and they had funding to do it,” Vancleeve said. “Just the combination of increased sales tasks, growing in some different verticals and then adopting the security side … we were in the right place at the right time.”

It was Bozeman-based, but the company announced in mid-February that it’s going completely remote. Before that, 16 of the company’s 23 workers were already working away from Bozeman.

“We’re a spread-out company already, so I think that’s one thing that we kind of had an advantage on,” said President Brandon Vancleeve. “We have people remote working all across the Rockies and so the adaptation for us was pretty seamless.”

This story has been edited to correct a misspelling. 

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at or at (406) 582-2651.

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