After globe trotting from Australia to Silicon Valley to Houston, See Forge, a new mobile technology company that has caught the eyes of multiple investors and energy companies, has settled on Houston as its home.
The two-year-old startup has wasted no time making ties in Houston. See Forge is a member of Surge Accelerator’s third class, has secured multiple local energy companies as customers and recently closed a $1 million funding round led by Houston’s Mercury Fund.
“Basically, we (decided to move the headquarters to Houston) because Chris (my co-founder) and I were on the phone every night in Australia talking to companies in Houston,” said James McDonough, See Forge’s CEO. “We moved to the Valley about six months ago to talk to investors, but we found that Houston has a combination of customers, capital and mentorship.”
See Forge’s technology provides a solution to industrial companies burdened with paperwork from their field workers. The company has created an app — available for both iPhone and Android users — that can be used in place of paperwork for everyday reports such as safety inspections and plant rounds at places such as construction sites, offshore oil and gas platforms and other remote industrial sites.
“We noticed a huge problem in operations. Everything on site is still done by paper or by a clunky system like SAP,” McDonough said. “We found that we could make this process mobile … and now we have a huge customer demand knocking at our door.”
Just about seven months after launching the product, McDonough said the company has about 1,500 users and multiple oil and gas majors as customers. Although the company has revenue, McDonough declined to disclose this number.
See Forge is initially targeting oil and gas companies as clients, but the company said its solution is available for other industrial customers.
Part of See Forge’s value proposition is that its software integrates with other enterprise software reporting solutions, such as SAP, Oracle and smaller IT systems. It also allows corporations to see what is happening at field locations in real-time since the software immediately sends results to corporations, McDonough said.
With the new $1 million in investment capital, See Forge plans to continue developing its product and its customer base and it plans to increase its staff from five to eight people.
See Forge will face competition from other industrial mobile reporting solutions companies, such as Retriever Communications, which set up an office in Sugar Land in 2012. Still, McDonough and his co-founder, Chris Bjorklund, CPO, claim the See Forge solution is easier to use — an attractive trait for new customers since the software is available on everyday consumer devices such as iPhones.
Blair Garrou, a managing director of Mercury Fund, agrees with the company’s founders.
“The theme of consumerization of IT is something we have been focusing on at Mercury Fund,” he said. “We have seen a lot of mobile workflow solutions serving various industries, but See Forge’s solution is the first we saw that could be applied across many industries, which was very interesting for us.”
Written by Molly Ryan – Reporter- Houston Business Journal