Welcome

Welcome

Surge founder Kirk Coburn kicks off the demo day.

Surge Accelerator

Greasebook

Greasebook

The startup wants to digitize oilfield maintenance.

Surge Accelerator

Prep work

Prep work

Entrepreneurs practice their pitches backstage.

Surge Accelerator

Blair Garrou

Blair Garrou

The Mercury Fund partner is a Surge mentor.

Surge Accelerator

On stage

On stage

Pitches took place at the House of Blues in Houston.

Surge Accelerator

On the couch

On the couch

Surge alumni interview James McDonough at SeeForge.

Surge Accelerator

Matchmaking

Matchmaking

Investors mingle with the entrepreneurs.

Surge Accelerator

Energy is a vital industry to the global economy, yet many of the basic practices to find, extract, and deliver oil and gas have not changed in decades. That situation has proven to be fertile ground for cleantech accelerator Surge and its startups.

Earlier this week, Surge’s third class made their debut in front of a packed audience of investors, entrepreneurs, and mentors at Houston’s House of Blues. The startup founders presented technologies that aim to digitize oilfield processes such as the maintenance of tens of thousands of stripper wells, calculate complex engineering questions in the cloud (and on multiple devices), and in using Big Data to more accurately locate new targets for oil exploration.

“Oil production in Texas has doubled since the early 1980s,” said Arshad Matin, president and CEO of Paradigm, which sells specialty software to oil and gas companies.

But because of the long slump in oil production from the late 1980s throughout the 1990s, energy employees are either “a few years from retirement or just out of college,” he added. “That gap [in the energy employment continuum] means software plays an important role in helping the industry make this transition.”

As younger workers become a larger part of the Oil Patch’s workforce, entrepreneurs like those at Surge are creating tools that incorporate the technologies those workers are used to in other parts of life. Francois Merer, sales and marketing manager for Seisquare, says the French company’s seismic mapping software “looks and feels like a video game.”

But instead of calling plays on the gridiron in Madden Football or causing mayhem in Grand Theft Auto, these players are seeking black gold deep beneath the earth’s surface.

Amar Pradhan, founder and CEO of New York-based 10Six, a smart grid software company, says its service is akin to a “AirBnB for batteries.” The startup can help customers make money from backup high-power batteries that normally sit idle, just like a homeowner renting out an unused room to make money.

Still, the entrepreneurs … Next Page »

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763.

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