Zeno Technologies Helps Oil Companies Make Smarter Decisions

The 23-person team plans to base most of its software engineering and go-to-market teams in Austin.

Written by Jeff Rumage
Published on Aug. 30, 2022
Zeno Technologies Helps Oil Companies Make Smarter Decisions
Zeno Technologies team
Photo: Zeno Technologies

Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.

In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In has launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. You can check out last quarter’s Austin round-up here.

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Russian oil sanctions and high gas prices have more people thinking about the price at the pump lately, but financial volatility is nothing new for oil and gas companies.

Investors demand that oil and gas companies deliver consistent, positive returns in an industry where companies are known to make speculative land purchases and hope for a payday.

After noticing a relative lack of software investment in the oil and gas industry, Zeno Technologies has developed a data aggregation and analytics platform. It helps oil and gas companies analyze multiple operational scenarios through financial modeling with the goal of providing consistent returns to investors.

“Investors don’t want to see a return to ‘drill baby drill,’ uncontrolled costs and spiraling production leading to a subsequent crash in prices,” said Matt Stammers, Zeno’s senior vice president of marketing and people. “At Zeno, we’re seeing substantial growth as customers adopt our Energy [Operating System] to help them better play the new financial discipline game and deliver the returns their investors demand.”

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The idea for Zeno came about in late 2019 when Oklahoma-based Echo Energy was working overtime to pull together oil and gas reserves reporting for shareholders. The Echo team took a look at the oil-related software landscape, but they didn’t find any tools that met their needs.

Echo Energy founder Christian Kanady met with Joe Lonsdale, the co-founder of Palantir who also co-founded venture capital firm 8VC, and Joel Carusone, who was working as an engineer in residence at 8VC. Through their conversations, they decided to build a new product focused on data quality in the oil and gas industry.

Carusone worked with a team of engineers and the 8VC Build program to develop the Zeno platform. Today, the Zeno software makes data insights available to both reservoir engineers and finance executives alike, helping companies make smarter financial decisions.

Before Zeno publicly launched, it raised $5.5 million in seed funding in early 2020 from 8VC and Echo Investment Capital, the venture arm of Echo Energy. Carusone mentioned the new startup to a former colleague, Sealy Laidlaw, who agreed to come on as Zeno’s CEO. Laidlaw, a female CEO in the male-dominated oil and gas industry, spent most of her career in the software world prior to Zeno.

Zeno Technologies CEO Sealy Laidlaw
Zeno Technologies CEO Sealy Laidlaw. | Image: Zeno Technologies / Built In

With 8VC headquartered in Austin, it made sense that Zeno would also be an Austin startup. Carusone moved his family from the Bay Area to Austin in 2020, and Laidlaw followed suit in 2021.

After 16 months in stealth mode, Zeno publicly launched in October of 2021 to scale its customer acquisition efforts. 

While the oil and gas industry has not always been a priority for software companies, industry forecasters suggest that trend could soon change. A Barclays analysis found that the oil-focused technology industry could grow from $5 billion in 2020 to $30 billion in 2025. The analysis also found that technology-informed efficiencies could save oil producers roughly $150 billion per year.

Zeno seems to be gaining traction, too. In a statement, the startup said it has steadily increased the pace of new customer acquisition in the nine months since its launch. 

Currently, Zeno has 23 employees and full-time contractors. Laidlaw said the company plans to center most of its software engineering and go-to-market teams in Austin. Zeno’s reservoir engineering and oil and gas subject matter experts are based in Oklahoma City, where it has a strong customer base and access to oil and gas industry talent.

Zeno had an office on 6th Street in Austin, but it let its lease expire during the pandemic. The company is in the process of securing a new office space in downtown Austin, Stammers said.

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