HOUSTON, TXâ€” 28-year-old Houston oil and gas entrepreneur Jacob Smarts had a vision: use technology to disrupt the notoriously stubborn and tradition-bound oil and gas industry. All he needed was a plan. After borrowing $1,000,000 from his father and mortgaging his condo, Smart leased a downtown office, hired some local recent computer science graduates, and set out to create new disruptive software. The company name: Culo Energy Technologies LLC.
When asked about the company name, Smarts replied “my friend told me that culo means â€˜empowerment’ in Spanish. That’s what we want to do. We want to empower the industry. I want to disrupt everything. This is an industry ripe for disruption and technology. Also I think something with blockchain. I think.”
Nine months later, Smarts felt prepared. He had the idea. He had 20 employees. He had the company G-Wagon. He had the “Chief Executive Officer” business cards. Much to his surprise, however, when he pitched his software concept to at least a dozen private equity groups in the Houston area, all of them reacted by looking at each other and rolling their eyes.
“Jacob Smarts? That idiot didn’t even have a business plan,” quipped Jonathan Richenson, assistant managing director of Dawn Key Capital Partners LLC. Dawn Key is a relatively new private equity sponsor specializing in raising billions to fund disruptive startups. “Do you know how many assholes we’ve talked to who want to disrupt the oil and gas industry? At least five thousand,” Richenson complained. “We funded the first five hundred or so and all the companies failed. What else were we supposed to do? We’ve gotta eat too, you know.”
Smarts was unperturbed. “Okay, fine, there’s five thousand other people trying this. But this is an industry with huge disruption potential. We just need to get the right partner on board. I believe in what we’re doing at Culo.”
UPDATE: Culo Energy Technologies LLC recently filed for bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. Smarts could not be reached for further comment at the time of writing.