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January 4, 2012 
Sutherland LTIle



A local boot camp is being formed to take recruits with big software ideas for the energy sector and put them in front of Houston's best mentors, angel investors, and venture capitalists. (You won't be forced to shave your head there though... probably.)
Yesterday, we snapped SURGE biz dev director Sarah Groen and co-founder and managing director Kirk Coburn at RedHouse in the Montrose area, home of SURGE HQ. Kirk says in visits with hundreds of early stage energy companies, he found that they need a lot of help on the business end, such as product development and marketing. Sarah, a Stanford MBA grad, says entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley get together at coffee houses and discuss their ideas, but this isn't done in the energy sector. This program is designed to accelerate growth by putting all the pieces necessary into one room for three intense months. (It's like The Biggest Loser... without all the crying.) Kirk says this is a proven concept in other industries and the result will be a rapid change in the energy business.
Companies sought (some already earn $1M to $2M in revenue) will be in five primary segments: smart grid applications, energy trading & risk management, the digital oilfield, energy efficiency, and regulatory compliance. Participating companies are provided $30k for operations support to offset costs while in Houston. They will benefit from approximately 90 mentors like The Castell Group founder Andy Clark, who has 30 years investment and advisory experience. The mentor's job is to help develop go-to-market strategies in today's new energy economy. It's going to teach companies to “fail fast” or “pivot,” meaning if it ain’t working, let’s fix it or move on.
Sarah says SURGE has received hundreds of applications from around the world (application deadline: Jan. 9). The program will run from March to the end of May. Kirk says because of its global make-up, Houston is the optimal place for this kind of program to succeed. SURGE receives a small percentage of common equity in the member companies as compensation, which motivates the program to get its members to grow expeditiously. Kirk says the program is looking for more than good ideas—it’s looking for game-changers.

The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality has released a map denoting what it considers (in yellow... we did not spill paint on the picture, we swear) to be the Nebraska Sandhills. This will help TransCanada’s efforts to develop a proposed new route for the Keystone XL Pipeline in the Cornhusker state. TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline development and construction director Les Cherwenuk told us this morning that this a very helpful and positive step as it provides the direction “we will need” to help determine alternate routes for Keystone XL.
Les says TransCanada has completed flyovers of the area and has driven along many of the county roads gathering video and other data, along with beginning to look at potential river crossings, road crossings, and how power would be accessed for pump stations along the route. The NDEQ says it will proceed with the development of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement once TransCanada submits information on an alternative route that avoids the Sandhills.

Chevron has released a new video that shows how tremendous care and planning have protected the species of Barrow Island off the northwest coast of Australia, which has been the site of petroleum development since 1964. In the clip, world-class Australian environmentalist Dr. Harry Butler explains that the practices he has put in place have ensured that Barrow Island has neither lost nor gained a single species, ecosystem, or process. This coexistence of oil and gas activity and biodiversity protection has been an industry benchmark. To see the clip, click here.
The Texans are favored over the Bengals by 3 points in this Saturday’s AFC playoff bout. What is your office doing to get fired up for the game? Email greg.miller@bisnow.com.
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