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March 11, 2016

Anna Ruth Williams

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This article was originally published in Silicon Bayou News.

As the 8th annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) approaches, all eyes are turning to Louisiana. As the fastest growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in the U.S., more than 10,000 attendees are coming to the Big Easy to hear world-renown keynote speakers and attend dozens of panel and educational sessions.

Specifically, many attendees – from VCs to public sector representatives – are coming to NOEW with an eye on a key slice of Louisiana’s ecosystem – oil and gas. With prices of crude oil the lowest they’ve been in 13 years, the Gulf Coast’s economy is feeling the pain – and it’s beginning to affect other industries. In fact, Jolie’s Bistro in Lafayette, a nationally acclaimed restaurant named for world-renowned artist George Rodrigue’s 1974 Jolie Blonde painting (and one of my personal favs), recently closed its doors citing the direct hit the local economy has taken because of the oil industry downturn as the primary reason. In addition, the entire community of Morgan City, Louisiana is taking a huge hit, with even a school considering closing its doors because of the crisis.

So now, Louisiana must find other ways to sustain our economy so we don’t face a repeat of the 1980’s oil glut. We’ve thankfully diversified since then with key industries such as agribusiness and software development – proving that tough economic times encourage entrepreneurialism. In fact, some of the world’s most successful business’ such as Disney, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Google were all founded in tough economic times. And what better industry for the fastest growing entrepreneurial hub to begin disrupting than the one that has not changed its ways in almost 200 years?

The lack of disruption combined with abundant uncertainty, has spurred oil and gas giants such as Shell, Halliburton and Chevron to begin investing in private tech companies. Clearly, innovation is top of mind during this downturn. In fact, The 2nd annual Energy Innovation and Entrepreneurship Summit is going to be happening at NOEW, focusing on the status of venture investing at major petroleum companies.

There are a few companies that have already answered the call to help the O&G industry increase efficiencies, safety and productivity – ultimately, positively affecting the bottom line. Below, I’d like to introduce you to five Louisiana-based oil and gas technology startups to watch now:

  • Cleargistix:

    Both on and offshore oil & gas service companies can use this SaaS solution to eliminate inefficient, manual and often paper-based activity recording. The New Orleans-based technology company provides a platform that allows for the efficient and accurate capture of field and vessel activities, and provides real-time revenue, personnel and other information.

  • Louisiana Technical Instruments:

    A 2015-2016 member of the Idea Village EnergyX accelerator, this New Orleans-based tech company provides pipeline operators, refineries, power plants, paper mills and offshore platforms with a solution to help meet emissions standards through a technology that reduces “methane bleed.”

  • Spotter by Envoc:

    This tablet app for iPad and Android allows companies to create and manage their own inspection questionnaires or forms for users in the field. Created by Envoc, a Baton Rouge-based software and design firm, Spotter was created to replace the inefficient pen and paper in order to make audits and inspections more accurate than ever before.

  • 3rd Dimensions Media:

    Another 2015-2016 member of the Idea Village EnergyX accelerator, this Lafayette-based startup provides 3D animation for O&G industry trade shows, interactive safety trainings and marketing materials. The animations often provide the viewer with an easy-to-understand visualization to very complex industry hardware, technology and processes.

  • Maritant

    : A New Orleans-based startup servicing the shipbuilding space, an$11 billion industry in Louisiana alone, Maritant connects engineers, shipbuilders and vessel operators with preferred vendor equipment data, helping to reduce research time through a trusted source.

It’s an exciting time for the Louisiana entrepreneurial ecosystem as these aforementioned companies will concurrently create more efficiencies for an industry so desperately in need of a shake up, and help acclaim the Silicon Bayou as THE leading entrepreneurial hub for the oil and gas industry.