Client Spotlight, A-76
In late August, we added a new energy company, A-76, to our client portfolio. A-76’s technology is a corrosion inhibitor and lubricant that works in high humidity, high salinity, and extreme temperature environments. We talked with CEO, Lauren Thompson to learn more about the company:
HTC: What makes A-76 unique?
Lauren Thompson: The key differentiator between A-76 and competing products is first it lasts longer, but also that it works and has a quick drying time. It’s just 5 minutes with A-76 as opposed to an average of one to 4 hours for competing products. Finally it can help to simplify the customer supply chain because A-76 works in a wide range of environments and on a variety of metals. We are focused on the O&G industry specifically on oil field equipment manufacturers and services companies because they have idle equipment. Especially with some of the moving equipment, the parts can’t be protected by a paint, polymer, or a non-corrosive metal, that is where A-76 can really add value.
HTC: The quick drying time, is this really important in the industry?
LT: The drying time is more a matter of convenience, because the time it would take to get critical equipment back into action is minimized which means that A-76 can help to reduce down time.
HTC: Tell us about the management team and what individual experiences and expertise they bring to A-76?
LT: My background is managing programs around the world in places as diverse as the Middle East, Asia, and Africa and I have also worked in energy investments. I previously worked with sales and manufacturing process consulting at Kalypso. At ME I had the opportunity to see a little bit of everything, I was in charge of everything from hiring and firing, to budgeting and forecasting to general operations. Tim our COO, has a background in safety and reliability engineering for a NASA contractor. His background in testing and quality control will be a huge asset for our manufacturing process and standards control.”
HTC: The company has competed in quite a bit of business plan competitions since A-76’s inception, what is your plan for the next 6 months moving it from that stage to customer acquisition and onward?
LT: The business plan competitions were great for validating our business model as well as getting initial exposure. We have just signed a term sheet for our first round of fund raising and so in the next few weeks we are going to be working on closing that and scaling operations. Our first production round is close to completion and are now ready to begin actively selling.
HTC: Can you tell me a little bit about what it’s been like here launching your business in Houston?
LT: We have had a lot of help from the Houston community. We presented at the MIT New Venture Forum at HTC and the Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC). The great feedback received we quickly incorporated into our plans. It has been really helpful to learn from mentors we met through Surge, HTC and Rice University. All have all been extremely helpful, giving us advice on the industry, on our business strategy, and our market.
HTC: What is your advice to other entrepreneurs in the same sphere as you?
LT: I think the main thing we did was that was most helpful was seeking out expert advice early on because that really helped to shape our strategy. A-76 can be applied in such a wide range of environments, early on someone told us to take a specific application as an initial target market. This is the hard part, focusing and doing the inch wide mile deep approach rather than doing the inch deep, mile wide approach. The important thing is getting to understand the industry and customer needs.