Kyle Cox

Seismos, a student-led startup company, aims to boost the efficiency of enhanced oil recovery by combining the power of carbon dioxide and sound waves to release oil trapped underground. 

The company was started by electrical engineering senior Omar Hernandez and Panos Adamopoulos, Stevan Slusher and Devin Bedwell, graduate students enrolled in the Master of Science in Technology Commercialization Program at UT. The program focuses on identifying of new technologies and assessing their market potential. 

“Seismos began as part of the program we’re in,” Bedwell, the team leader, said. “The first semester one of our assignments was to find four different technologies, then do market assessments on them. This is one of the ones we found.”

Seismos recently won first prize at the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition, taking home $135,000 toward the its development. 

The company also received backing from the Austin Technology Incubator, a branch of the University’s IC2 Institute, which promotes economic development in Central Texas through entrepreneurial wealth and job creation, and a teaching laboratory in applied entrepreneurship for University students. 

“The ATI is your on-campus resource for starting a [technology-based] company,” said Kyle Cox, director of IT/Wireless and Development Portfolios for the incubator. “We go through a rigorous due diligence progress in working with a potential startup. We assess their viability and opportunity in the market and try to work to see if we can help add value to the company. ”

Cox said Seismos was a perfect fit for the incubator, citing the company’s potential for profit and innovation within a $4 trillion industry.

“What their technology can impact as far as enhanced oil recovery is tremendous,” Cox said, “Seismos has a massive opportunity. They have a few things left to figure out and we hope to be able to provide them the resources to do so, whether it be access to our mentors and advisers, venture capitalists that will help them get going, or access to potential customers.”

Adamopolous said the team plans to continue developing the company after graduation. 

“The future looks bright as long as you can deliver what you promise,” Adamopolous said. “We can’t say that we’re finished. We have a long way to go, but we’re on the right track.”

The Seismos team is currently preparing to compete in the business plan competition circuit, with initial stops at Rice, University of California-Berkeley and Tulane University. 

“We’re going to those competitions to meet more investors and get more feedback on the business plan,” Bedwell said, “Hopefully we’ll win some feed money to continue the project. We’re in the early stages right now, but I think [Seismos] is something that would work, so we’re working to develop it after we graduate.”

Published on February 18, 2013 as "Student startup hopes to improve oil recovery". 

Isaac Barchas, Director of the Austin Technology Incubator, speaks with Randall P. Baker, Principal of Puravida Ventures, after the Student Entrepreneur Acceleration and Launch. Tuesday was the Decision Day, when five student entrepreneur teams made the “go” or “no go” choice for their businesses.

Photo Credit: Emilia Harris | Daily Texan Staff

UT student entrepreneurs presented the results of their eight-week-long summer business-building program at the Austin Technology Incubator on Tuesday.

The Student Entrepreneurship Acceleration and Launch is a program that gives entrepreneur groups connected to the UT community a chance to figure out what milestones need to be reached for their business plans to succeed, said Austin Technology Incubator assistant director Kyle Cox.

The incubator is part of the research arm of the University and has hosted this program for the past three years to provide entrepreneurial groups with industry mentors that act as advisers as well as a work environment within the incubator, Cox said.

“We give them a taste of the real world,” he said.

Of the five teams hosted this summer, three decided to go ahead with their idea, one decided to defer a decision until a future date and another decided not to continue their project.

Vecturalux was among the groups that decided to go forward, designing a project called ParaLux to deal with increasing bandwidth strain on wireless networks by increasing the effectiveness of signal detection in fiber-optic cables, said Vecturalux chief commercial officer and business administration graduate student Matthew Clayton.

“We will be able to provide a superior product and remain competitive in price,” Clayton said.

PHeir Health decided against continuing their project because it wouldn’t have been competitive with similar companies. They developed mobile medication administration software designed to oversee nurses and help reduce medication errors at nursing homes, which result in 30,000 injuries and 25,000 deaths annually, said team member and business administration graduate student Sidney Allen. However, they realized their product was not unique and would cost too much while generating too little profit, said team member Thomas Allen.

Starting a company while being a student is a unique opportunity that needs to be taken advantage of, said Q Beck, co-founder of Famigo, a company that has continued to operate after participating in a different incubator program in 2009.

Beck said students can receive a lot of help from people in the industry and can afford to be bolder in their enterprises because people in the industry won’t be too harsh on them.

He said that if students were committed to their projects and took advantage of any offer, then building a company would be better than accepting a job.

“Be in it for the long haul. It’s a long road but it’s great,” Beck said.