How Startups and Operators Can Work Together to Accelerate Technology Adoption

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“We are a late adopter of technology.” Said no one ever!

Often the biggest dream of an oil and gas startup is to have ExxonMobil (or any of the other majors) as their first customer. However, not understanding an operator’s culture of technology reception could be a deadly first step for early-stage startups.

Startups should know the target operator’s risk tolerance, and the best time to approach the company. You would never hear the manager of an oil company say that they are a late adopter of technology but, in reality, many companies prefer to wait and see the outcome of tests done with early adopters. Here are some suggestions for both startups and operators that could help optimize technology adoption.

For Startups

Do your homework. Learn all the critical information about your target operators and prioritize against your product development timeline. A mistimed pitch could either burn your chance or throw you into a yearlong back and forth with no light at the end of the tunnel. Here are a few suggestions.

As you get exposure with more operators, identify the trends that show where you are gaining traction and have the clearest path to commercial and repeatable applications.

For Operators

Regardless of your role, ask how your company perceives technology. Is some level of early-technology risk accepted? One good reality check is to see how the previous failures have been treated. That will indicate what stage of technology maturity works better for your company. Here are a few other suggestions for dealing with startups:

Next time an early stage startup approaches your company, give them guidance on what milestones they must achieve before they should come back. If maturity level is indeed the issue, make clear that you are not saying their technology does not work—it is just not developed enough for a field trial with your company.

All of this highlights that the relationship between startups and operators needs to be collaborative to accelerate technology uptake. The aim of course is to help both sides of the table win; an operator gets a new value-generating technology and the startup gains momentum.


Moji Karimi is an oil and gas entrepreneur who has helped ideate, develop, and commercialize technology for big companies such as Weatherford and has now begun focusing on startups. Currently, Karimi is the business development manager at Biota Technology, a startup that is commercializing DNA Sequencing in the oil and gas industry. He is also a cofounder of SPE Gulf Coast Section Entrepreneurship Cell which is an initiative to educate and connect entrepreneurs, decision makers, and investors. Karimi holds BS and MS degrees in drilling and petroleum engineering, respectively.

How Startups and Operators Can Work Together to Accelerate Technology Adoption

Moji Karimi, Business Development Manager, Biota

16 March 2017