Energy Startup DrillMap raises $6.5M, Helps to Digitize the Oilfield

DrillMap, an Austin-based cleantech startup, said today it has raised $6.5 million in venture capital.

The Series A round was led by Rockport Capital, a Boston VC firm that specializes in energy, sustainability, and mobility, along with ConocoPhillips and Ridgewood Capital. DrillMap sells a subscription-based Internet database that displays publicly available and private data on wells and pipelines on maps that can be viewed on smartphones, computers, and other devices, similar to the way you could plug queries into a GPS database for restaurants in your area.

“A lot of the tools built to do this analysis in ’70s and ’80s have not been adapted to cater to the workflows of today,” says Jitesh Chanchani, DrillMap’s CEO.

And those workflows have become more intense in recent years because of the shale boom. More than 4,000 shale wells came online last year in just the United States alone, according to a recent study published by the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. “These are hundreds of $10-million wells, as opposed to fewer numbers of $50-million or $100-million wells,” Chanchani added.

All those wells mean that much more data. DrillMap aims to not only provide an easily accessible platform on which to aggregate this data for oil and gas producers, it plans to provide customers ways to better understand that data, too.

“The digital oil field is really coming to light,” says Kirk Coburn, founder and executive director of Surge, a Houston-based accelerator that focuses on the intersection of energy and IT. “People have been talking about it for decades. It’s really here.”

DrillMap aims to digitize public data taken from state agencies and federal regulators, and then plots that data on maps to help customers visualize what’s happening. The startup was part of Surge’s inaugural class last year.

The startup, which currently has 30 employees, will maintain its Austin office and plans to open a Houston marketing office soon. DrillMap had previously raised $6.25 million in venture funding from two venture capital firms and one major energy company.

Chanchani says the startup will use the new funding to build up its sales and marketing team as it both seeks new clients and pushes out the latest version of its software to existing ones. DrillMap will also begin to develop and sell a service to enable clients to crunch the data the are already receiving in a customized way.

“The problem right now is that there is a ton of data being streamed from a variety of sources,” he says. “It’s very hard for customers to consume this all in a meaningful way.”

The digitization of energy is coming at a pivotal time in the sector, both in terms of technology and demographics. While software-as-a-service platforms, like that of DrillMap, harness the power of the cloud so that companies can better manage data, it’s a technology that the workforce is already comfortable using.

Energy crews, both out on the platform and those in offices, are seeing this generational change as well. “You have younger geoscientists coming in, and they are very used to doing stuff on iPads,” Chanchani says. “Before you had people sitting in organizational silos. You typically have to wait for days or weeks before the information was made available to you before you could consume it.”

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