Tell us about yourself
Peter (right): My name is Peter Zhou, I’m a co-founder of Green Mesa and we are all about bringing the oil & gas into the new modern digital era. What we do is provide an intelligent monitoring service for rotating equipment in the field. Right now operators are often misinformed about how their equipment is running, what equipment they have, or if it is even running. We bridge that gap and do so in a cost effective way that creates new insights and new action.
How many people does your team consists of?
Ryan (left): There are two of us right now and we have advisors and mentors that are very helpful for us. The cumulative number right now is over 150 years of combined experience in oil & gas, carbon utilization and cleantech.
When did you start?
R: Peter and I met in the summer of last year and we came together in another clean tech company in Calgary. We shared an idea of looking at the carbon dioxide market back in August. We’ve been working on this application since October.
What you did prior to this venture
R: I was finishing up my masters in sustainable energy development at the U of C. The co-founder of Carbon Upcycling Technologies gave a talk to the school. I was really interested in that work, so I kept in frequent contact with him about what's going on and landed a job before I even graduated.
P: I worked as a consultant with an education institution. I went to clients’ home’s and evaluated, identified, and helped fill the gaps in their kids’ education.
What problem does your business solve?
R: A lot of the rotating equipment or large equipment oil & gas companies have is in remote sites that someone has to drive or fly into, and they have no idea how it’s being operated. Companies can’t afford to have downtime in their operations, but will only know the state of things by conducting on site inspections. We bring visibility to that and solve some maintenance process issues, root cause analysis issues and identify some emissions profiles; which were previously unknown. All while removing the need for physical inspections on-site.
How do you solve this problem?
P: With low commodity prices and increasing regulations the last thing we wanted to do is introduce new sensors and installations. Profit margins are strained for these operators and so many of them have left town already just because of the way things are. Our solution is a cloud based analytics platform that helps oil & gas facility managers optimize their facility by using data, which requires less physical sensors to make more informed, sustainable decisions. We tie into the operations database and pool together a variety of machine specific data points like pressure and temperature to unlock new insights.
When did you notice a gap in the market?
R: While we were on the path to fixing the carbon dioxide market, we discovered that operators needed help on the operational side of things and not just on emissions and compliance. The more of these customer discovery conversations we had, the more we realized there was a bigger issue at hand. It was surprising to hear how neglected some of the equipment is and how much information is locked out of sight. It was through these conversations that we could find a solution and provide some positive results.
What is your company culture?
R: We always remain curious and on the lookout for potential solutions by asking questions and wanting to know more. Curiosity is the biggest piece of our culture.
P: We are a pretty open organization. One thing I’ve always emphasized in my career is that you shouldn’t be a different person at home than at work. We want it to be an integrative cohesive space and to set interesting values that paint a lot about ourselves and the organization we want to build.
What draws people to you?
R: What I see is the self awareness piece. The fact that we are curious and we want to solve issues but we know we don't have all the answers. Being somewhat humble in that regard and knowing that we aren’t perfect. People like us because we are coachable. They don’t want to be associated with our group if their input is just going to hit a brick wall. We are very much open and willing to take feedback.
P: Our vision and drive resonates with so many in the industry. Despite how hard it is, we want create transparency around the industry so that people and organizations can collaborate: sharing is caring. We build our vision statement around those thoughts and that’s what magnetizes people to us.
Three words to describe the company with?
R: Curious, collaborative, and self-aware.
P: Fresh, fun, and collaborative.
Why did you choose The Accelerator?
R: It was interesting to see that you had a really strong group of advisors and mentors. We thought there must be an enormous amount of knowledge and depth within each network. Another big thing is watching your cohort develop at the same time. Being a part of that group and seeing them develop is pretty cool.
P: Developing those horizontal connections is huge. We made a lot of good connections who have indirect contacts in the industry and that gives us an extra avenue to connect with people. The mentor network is fantastic!
How did you find out about The Accelerator?
P: I volunteer with Startup Calgary and have been looped in with the ecosystem. The Accelerator popped up on a Slack message and that's how I found up about it.
What has your experience with the The Accelerator been like?
R: It's been such a help already. We tried to do things on our own for the first few months and it was tough to step away and look at what you’re doing. Going through your pitches frequently is an important exercise to remain aware of, which has been incredibly helpful. From the pitch practicing we were able to secure some funding from an organization in the UK.
P: The pitch practice is so valuable. Pitching is something that doesn't get easier. You find more and more holes with a different audience each time. The mentorship has helped a lot already. We get critical feedback from our mentors who have a breath of industry knowledge. They could evaluate the risks of our startup and critique it from multiple angles, which is so valuable to us. We now have to pin down the risks and take appropriate action on the drawing board.
R: Even the Valhalla BaseCamp surprised me with how much information I took from that. That really excites me for the future workshops that are upcoming.
What has been your biggest lesson you learned while in the program?
P: People don’t know exactly what our product is, part of that comes down to the pitching and communication. A large part is due to our lack of industry experience and insight. 16 value propositions just means zero value.
What has been a major accomplishment for you this year?
P: To start the year going into The Accelerator and we built out a proof of concept in a month.
R: The funding from the UK was a great piece of validation as well.
What is next for you?
R: One of us has to start working with partners in Scotland, [while the other] continues to hustle around Calgary to connect with as many groups as possible. We need to get those paying customers finally lined up.
P: On the technology and engineering side, there's still a couple missing pieces that need to be patched up and hopefully we can do that before year end. We are building something that combines engineering and data science, so taking this idea and conducting further validation in Scotland and worldwide is huge for us!