Courtesy of the Las Cruces Bulletin, by Richard Coltharp
One company provides technology to remotely monitor and distribute water to cattle on New Mexico ranches. One company offers online assistance to new parents concerned about their child’s development. One company provides secure “cloud” data storage.
What does this diverse set of businesses have in common? They all benefit from the Arrowhead Technology Incubator at New Mexico State University.
Chris Penner, the incubator’s director, introduced the owners of these three companies Tuesday, July 3, at the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance’s monthly Business in the Borderplex Forum at Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces.
Mike Lisk of Cloudcroft owns and operates Remote Well Solutions. Melanie Waller created MiniMilestones for parents of children from birth to 3 years. Aaron Garcia runs Silicon Mesa, which provides safe storage of electronic information, including medical records. All three gave presentations at the July 3 meeting.
Lisk and his wife operate ranches in Lincoln County, and were continually frustrated with the process of keeping cattle watered. The traditional method of using a windmill to draw water from the ground is obsolete, so most ranchers use water pumps driven by point-of-use generators.
While better than windmills, the generators have problems, too. Lisk cited the example of a Roswell rancher who weekly made a 140-mile round trip to refuel the generator. Lisk began to think, with today’s technology, why can’t we do this better? So he did.
Lisk’s systems use generators fueled by propane, which is cheap and plentiful in New Mexico. Beyond using propane as fuel, Lisk sought to make the system as easy to use as possible. It’s fully automated and each part is keyed for simple installation. “We’re not trying to make electricians out of cowboys and ranchers,” he said.
To emphasize the point, Lisk’s PowerPoint presentation included a photo of his six-year-old grandson setting up a system. Once in place the systems have produced results. One rancher reduced his monthly expense for watering from $1,216 to $485. Because the pumps run as much 30 percent less often, the pumps last longer.
A great idea, however, is just that unless it’s executed. Lisk realized people weren’t going to come knocking at his door just because he’d come up with something practical. “We thank Arrowhead for some really good assistance,” Lisk said. “We had some challenges on the business side and they opened doors and showed us the way.”
Garcia also cited the benefits of the Arrowhead Center, where Silicon Mesa’s offices are located. Because security is so critical to Silicon Mesa’s success, Garcia wanted to ensure his storage was as “hackproof” as possible, which required some of the best computer minds available.
“(Penner) connected us up to Sandia National Laboratories,” Garcia said. The folks at Sandia reviewed and studied Silicon Mesa’s product, and gave it high marks for security.
“It’s a great tool we have to be able to access the professionals and entrepreneurs (at Arrowhead),” Waller said.
For more information about the Arrowhead incubator, contact the Arrowhead Center main office at 646-1434 or firstname.lastname@example.org.