Introduce yourself and tell us about DataCloud?
As CEO and co-founder of DataCloud, I oversee sales and marketing and contribute to product strategy focusing on our mission: to bring high-resolution, real-time rock mass characterization to the mining industry. We took what we learned from oil and gas exploration and production and tailored it to ore and mineral mining, to support the industry’s need for operational efficiency. We put rock mass measurements, geology analytics, automated geological models, and high-resolution visualizations in the hands of mine planning teams.
Our IoT enabled drill-based sensor measures unprecedented rock properties right from production drills used to drill blast holes. Using advanced signal processing and machine learning techniques the vibrations we record from the drill’s steel are transformed into high-resolution blast hole measurements and then streamed to our software in the cloud to be analyzed with other mine site data sets. We do the heavy computational math in the cloud so mining clients can access their orebody knowledge from any smart device.
I am a former Schlumberger Anadrill Field Engineer. I spent the bulk of my oilfield career drilling high profile wells and conducting field tests on new equipment. Upon leaving Schlumberger, I worked as a drill site manager and led corporate development as well as commercial efforts for an exploration & production startup. I have a Petroleum Engineering Diploma from Heriot-Watt University and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley.
What is unique about DataCloud?
The technology we’ve built is a concept that is widely used in Oil and Gas, where many DataCloud employees began their careers. When we realized nobody was providing this crucial subsurface evaluation service for the mining industry, we decided we were well-positioned to make a run at it. We also realized the timing was perfect–new technologies in Silicon Valley were emerging that could revolutionize mining by making it possible to provide high-value subsurface information for a cost, and at a speed, the industry would accept.
What did you wish you knew before starting DataCloud?
The long sales cycles for innovation vendors is a big obstacle to introducing new technology into mining. Fortunately, we have been able to overcome this challenge as we are backed by great investors that believe in our product, understand what it takes to introduce new technology into mining operations, and are truly dedicated to bringing about radical productivity growth in mining.
How are you marketing your business?
Our current message is that we are not about “disrupting the industry”. Often the new services in mining talk about “disrupting” this and that. We don’t need to disrupt anything to help revolutionize mining production. DataCloud technology delivers highly accurate rock mass insights as blast holes are being drilled, giving mine planners the ability to streamline drill and blast operations without complicating existing workflows.
We are also attending as many relevant conferences as possible. They are a great place to meet, connect, and learn from the community.
What advice would you give a new entrepreneur?
Be agile and ready to adapt to your industry’s and clients’ needs. Also ‘stay positive’, to quote Craig Finn and the Hold Steady.
What Unique Selling Point (USPs) do you offer that your competition doesn’t?
While there are many other companies measuring geology down blast holes, we offer multiple independent and valuable rock property measurement in real-time and at a high-resolution. The availability and acceptance of this information will steadily improve operational excellence for decades to come. Immediate turnaround time for data means our detailed rock mass characterization answers can inform drill and blast operation prior to blasting, enabling mine planners to optimize fragmentation and increase throughput.
We are also putting in the extra effort to steadily push edge software updates to all of our IoT devices, so our clients are able to realize the benefits of geophysical interpretation advances in future, without having to do a single thing.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ego. You just have to let that go because making a new business work is all about being a team player. You have to be willing to accept help when you need it, to step in when someone can’t step up and let go of ownership of your ideas. There’s no budget for hubris at a startup.
What is your favorite book and how has it helped in your business?
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. It’ll teach you how much BS exists in conventional wisdom (accepted history, in the case of the book), and how you must really work and dig to get the truth in life.
Your future goal for DataCloud?
We are working on expanding our reach in geologies and geographies; going from iron ore, met coal, and copper to include lithium, gold, and uranium, and going from Australia and Canada to Chile, South Africa, and Zambia. Our solutions are built for producing open-pit mines. We recognize the importance of underground and exploration, and so we are looking to adapt our technology to those fields in the future.
Most satisfying moments in business?
When I saw DataCloud’s first a big international project come together. It was great to see our team from all over the world collaborating, putting in their best work, and making something truly new and powerful happen that impressed our client.