Start-Ups to Watch

By Collin Krabbe – Reporter for New Mexico Inno

FRS-B Cell Phone Booster
Actual Size of the FRS-B cell phone booster by ORC Tech

This special section marks the launch of the annual Startups to Watch list, a collection of startups New Mexico Inno will keep an eye on in the next 12 months.

The list of 10 honorees includes businesses in various sectors — sustainable energy, health care and mobile communications, to name a few. Our Startups to Watch are trying to use data to identify the “social determinants of health” and deploy space-mining technology.


Spotty cell reception is a problem worth fixing, and with technology developed at the world’s leading space organization, one New Mexico startup says it has the solution.

ORC Tech LLC is trying to eliminate so-called “dead zones” in rural or undeveloped areas. The company says its technology is licensed from NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The technology includes the use of a lightweight portable antenna that provides cell reception.

Early testing showed ORC’s antenna can increase signal strength by at least 20%, adding one to two bars of reception, according to the company. ORC Tech says its investors include Tsay Corp. on the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, where ORC is headquartered.

ORC Tech is also listed as a portfolio company at Arrowhead Innovation Fund, a seed and early-stage venture capital fund at New Mexico State University. The startup’s founders include John ChavezAndrea M. GarciaJoshua Benavidez and New Mexico Start-Up Factory, according to ORC Tech.

So far, ORC Tech has raised $100,000, according to the company, which contends its product will boost cell service for outdoor enthusiasts, first responders, ranchers and similar users. ORC Tech was founded in 2021 and had four employees as of December. With additional funding, ORC intends to hire at least three more employees and develop a manufacturing process, according to the company.

Prototype testing for validation is happening alongside Sandia National Laboratories, according to ORC. While the company is still in its early stages, ORC has already gained some momentum, placing third in the El Paso Dia de los Muertos Pitch Competition.

And with tech apparently licensed from NASA, we’d say ORC is a startup that will remain on our radar.