I was recently invited to attend the Energy Technology Investor Forum in Houston as an advisor to hear the investor pitches from young technology companies seeking investment from the Oiltech Investment Network. The event was sponsored by the Houston Technology Center, which has become one of the leading technology accelerators in the country. The Oiltech Networks objective is to encourage entrepreneurship and maximize the quality of technology investment opportunities within the E&P and oilfield services sector. The members are venture capital investors in oil and gas technologies. Theres very strong participation from the Norwegian venture funds as they look beyond the North Sea for energy technology companies to invest in. The 26 companies selected to present were screened pretty heavily. Here are a few of my observations:

  • The range of technologies was significant. Many were software and IT related, others were material science, nano-technology, geochemistry, imaging or device related.
  • Many were E&P specific in their application but many had application beyond the industry. All, however, made their pitch based on their E&P value proposition.
  • In a market where unique IP is more critical than business model, first mover advantage or any other advantage, 60% of the companies had some form of patent protection.
  • Most companies already had some funding, either friends and family, angel or institutional. A good portion were already in revenue too.
  • The entrepreneurs that fared the best presented not just sensible P&L projections, they demonstrated a thorough understanding of cash flow.