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How do you go from zero to hero in the space of a year?

21 June 2019
Written by Ivan Starostin

Last year, the Oil and Gas Technology Centre announced the very first cohort in its TechX accelerator programme. TenzorGeo was one of the ten… Entrepreneur Ivan Starostin, CEO of TenzorGeo, shares his incredible journey.

The fact that nine out of ten start-ups fail to reach their destination, is a daunting stat. I believed in an exceptional idea and had unwavering enthusiasm, but no revenue and faced significant development costs. To get to where we are now, reminiscing over the past year, is incredible.

TechX came up in a Google search and at first we did not know what to think of it. My colleague went to the roadshow in London and came back very excited about the programme and its lead, David Millar. He sounded like a charismatic accelerator director with a vision for new technologies, and that was very appealing to me.

Following a rigorous evaluation process, we were able to demonstrate the potential to develop technology that could transform the oil and gas industry. In the space of 16 weeks, TechX helped us achieve what felt like ‘the impossible’. We were given massive support and they did exactly what they promised – they accelerated us by perhaps three to five years.

Not only was the funding a vital lifeline, more importantly the package of support offered by The OGTC was fundamental to our success, in particular the mentors that I was paired with.

Whilst it was an intensive 16-week programme, during which I was equipped with an arsenal of tools to refine my value proposition and perfect my delivery,  what struck me was having immediate access to senior executives from the energy industry who I would not otherwise had the opportunity to engage with. This made our first field trial possible – our technology came to life.

We address a specific industry challenge. We use unique interpretation software and autonomous ocean bottom seismometers that can deliver unprecedented accuracy in pinpointing oil and gas deposits and truly effect a step-change in exploration.

It’s a low-cost approach and allows operators to narrow the uncertainty on their developments, including larger developments with multiple wells. Overall this represents a great opportunity for the industry to access marginal developments.

This is exactly what we have been doing during a recent field trial in the North Sea for an energy supermajor, supported by a global service company. We are due to present our findings soon, so it’s an exciting time for the team (which has doubled to an eight-strong contingent) to see the idea come to life and hopefully commercialised. In the meantime, we are lining up a second field trial with another operator, which will achieve wider acceptance from the industry.

I’m asked, where do we go from here? As you can imagine we are very much on a high growth curve, but collaboration is key and currently connecting with subject matter experts, working with the University of Rice (Houston, USA) and building partners in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea.

It’s been like drinking from a firehose, but I wouldn’t change a thing. The journey The OGTC has taken us on has far exceeded my expectations and not only brought the technology to life, but accelerated the growth of our business – it makes me proud and heightens my passion and drive to succeed even more.

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