OwlSpark | Rice University Startup Accelerator | TeamWise: SpecMobile
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TeamWise: SpecMobile

SpecMobile started this summer as team TraceMatters, who planned to bring real-time, lab-grade chemical analysis to upstream oil and gas service providers. Prior to OwlSpark, they hypothesized that their technology could be used by reservoir engineers to quickly analyze samples and make decisions to optimize the production of reservoirs.

However, as the summer progressed the team learned through customer interviews that their expected efficiency improvements were not compelling enough to get industry to switch to a solution like theirs. Even more concerning, their technology needed two additional years of lab work to become commercially viable.

Armed with this information, the team brainstormed on how to move forward from there, and rebranded themselves as SpecMobile, a reference to portable mass spectrometry. Ultimately, they made the decision to cut the cord on their business.

Though the founders (Al Galindo, Samantha Lewis, Shruthi Thirupakuzi Vangipuram, Achal Srinivasan, and Zain Aziz), chose not to move forward, they learned a few very valuable lessons–the kind of lessons that save entrepreneurs time and money. Leveraging these lessons, they took an unconventional approach to their pitch at the Fourth Annual Bayou Startup Showcase, and ending with a call-to-action for the community at large.

To mentors: continue to challenge your teams assumptions and help them see through their own bias. Entrepreneurs: challenge your own assumptions, surround yourself with people who will do the same, and be diligent.

Despite the team’s no-go decision, it’s clear that they’ve formed a strong bond over the summer. Their enthusiasm and optimism for the future is palpable, and they’re excited for what’s to come.