Going Under the Sea with Desert Star Systems

Small Business Majority held a photo contest to find the most creative small businesses around for National Small Business Week. Each day, we’ll be highlighting one of the winners in a profile on our blog. Today’s winner is Desert Star Systems.

With a business model tailored to exploring the ocean—which covers nearly three-fourths of the planet and of which more than 95% has still yet to be investigated—it’s safe to say Desert Star Systems tapped into a sea of business opportunity.

The Marina, CA based small business is the leading manufacturer of underwater tracking technology. They manufacture solutions for tracking everything from divers and submarines to marine wildlife. The idea to better navigate and explore the deep blue stemmed from CEO Marco Flagg’s scuba expeditions, where he found it a bit difficult to maintain the buddy system.

“Part of being scuba certified is learning how to dive with a buddy as well as navigate underwater, both of which can be challenging in such an amazing environment,” said Thomas Gray, CFO of Desert Star.  “Marco often lost his buddy and as an engineer, he knew there could be a great way to relocate his buddy or the boat.”

That epiphany led to the development of a product called the Dive Tracker—which the company still manufactures and sells today—and the birth of Desert Star Systems.  “The desert is like an ocean without water, stars are the oldest method of navigation and we provide solutions and systems, not just hardware,” Gray said.

Desert Star dives deep into the rich pools of nature that cover our planet, serving as one of the premiere companies for underwater exploration.

“If you are a marine biologist and you want to track a fish without the need of physical recovering devices, you can count your choices on one hand,” Gray said. “There are only three companies in the world that manufacture [pop-up satellite tags] and we are one of the three.”

This tracking method, known as tagging, has seen a stall in innovation. Underwater technologies have not advanced much in recent decades and Desert Star capitalized on this huge opportunity.

An example of such innovation has been the company’s refined underwater acoustic recorders, which are smaller and more technologically advanced than many other models for the device that Gray called “archaic and expensive.”

“We are the only company in the world that manufactures such a wide berth of product,” Gray said.

There’s a genuine curiosity and affinity for the ocean that defines Desert Star as a company. “The world beneath the waves is amazing and to be part of that is pretty awesome,” Gray said. “The adventures and opportunities it provides are unmatchable.”

With passionate and inquisitive minds comes the drive to grow. “We will continue to innovate, never stopping to take a breath,” Gray said. “Every employee steps through the door and embodies what it is to be Desert Star – innovation of technology and self.”

Desert Star isn’t a business that will be satisfied resting on their laurels; they’re all about getting their feet wetter and wetter.

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