Demo Day: Surge Accelerator in Houston Launches 10 Energy Startups

May 24, 2012

1:00 pm

As temperatures heat up and electricity demand soars, Texas is at risk for blackouts this summer. It’s a reminder that we need to keep innovating in energy technology just to keep the lights on.

One innovator in this space is Surge Accelerator, which launched its first class of clean and traditional energy startups out of Houston today. Armed with $30,000 in funding, these 10 companies have survived a 12-week mentorship program and are hoping to make our energy use more efficient.

Energy is a unique sector, explains cofounder and managing director Kirk Coburn. He realizes that Surge is making a 3- to 6-year investment in these teams, who mainly sell to enterprises like oil or utility companies – companies that take their time when adopting new technologies. But that might be changing:

“There’s this great generational career change that’s happened in energy, where most of the executives of the big companies are Baby Boomers but over half of their employees are Gen Y and millennials,” says Coburn. “And the one thing we know about that generation is that they don’t know a world without Facebook, they don’t know a world without an iPhone, so they expect software to be elegant and high design. So we’re trying to take that concept and apply it to an industry that has not seen that in the past.”

This year’s class features 7 female founders. Here are the 10 startups:

  • ActualSun (Houston, TX/Portugal): An analytics platform for renewable energy plant owners to compare performance and reduce costs. Cofounded by Sofia Pessanha, Nisha Desai, and Luke Murray.
  • Advanced Seismic (Houston, TX): A seismic processing suite for Windows that lets companies pay as they go for computing power. Cofounded by John Almon and Leron Wells.
  • drillMap (Austin, TX): An analytics application for petroleum companies that lets them access data within minutes and build reports.
  • FuelMiner (Minneapolis, MN): Hardware and software for companies with a fleet of vehicles to optimize fuel use in real time. It monitors things like hard breaking and excessive idling. Made by Certusoft.
  • Lowfoot (Toronto): A web-based energy-use tracker that connects to your smart meter and helps you earn rewards for saving energy. Cofounders Philip Playfair and Steve Hammond previously worked together on Advanced Utility Systems, which made utility billing software.
  • Molecule Software (Houston): A cloud-based trading platform that helps those in the energy commodity industry manage their risk.
  • Pinnacle (The Woodlands, TX/Boston, MA): Tools for utility companies to easily integrate with new smart grid devices and save money, without upgrades or customization.
  • Revokom (Chile/Denver, CO): Creators of AssetFollower, a mobile platform for the oil and gas and mining industries that lets team members and service providers view activity on drilling sites, mines, and other assets.
  • Snugg Home (Boulder, CO): Software tools for residential contractors to make homes more energy efficient. Cofounded by residential energy modeling specialist Adam Stenftenagel, global warming scientist Jeff Friesen, and technology professional Benjamin Mailian.
  • Tune Energy (Palo Alto, CA): A subscription service for smart-meter users that monitors usage and efficiency so you don’t overpay for electricity.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact

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