May 13, 2013 – By Purva Patel
Houston is known for energy, but the city is also building a budding technology sector.
The world's oil capital is home to scores of hopeful entrepreneurs developing new websites, software, medical devices, clean technologies and other innovations. Research at the Texas Medical Center, NASA, local universities and in the energy industry, for example, has given birth to new ventures.
Here's one of an occasional set of snapshots of local tech startups. Time will tell if they take off.
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Elevator pitch: Quick, onsite chemical testing of hydraulic fracturing fluids.
The idea: Energy companies often take samples of fluids used in fracturing and then wait weeks for labs to return the results. Tritralyte says it has developed an quicker way for companies to test the chemical makeup of water and other fluids used in the fracturing process. The company ships trays that are prefilled with freeze-dried molecules that detect elements such as calcium and magnesium. The tray then goes into a machine that analyzes the concentration of elements in minutes. The company plans to sell the trays and machines for a price to be determined.
Users: The company plans to start pilot programs with four companies in May and June.
The brains: Titralyte licensed technology developed by Eric V. Anslyn at the University of Texas. The founding team, which includes CEO Keith Cole, senior scientist Justin Dragna and director of operations Chris Uglietta, met through the university. Cole most recently worked as president of Delcor USA, a steel fabricator for the offshore oil and gas industry.
The competition: The company considers off-site labs as competition. Colorado-based Hach sells portable fluid analysis kits. Titralyte claims its system is easier and faster to use. "All you have to do is add water or drilling fluid and stick the tray in the machine," Cole said. "We basically simplified chemistry. It's so easy my 9-year-old daughter could do it."
The money: The company has raised $1 million from angel investors in the oil and gas industry and is currently raising $1.5 million in series B funding.