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Investors Pitch their Energy Industry Ideas, Seeking Investors and Prize Money, at LAGCOE in Lafayette

Oct 29, 2015

The winner of the inaugural LAGCOE Innovators Pitch Challenge on Thursday touted a product he says could save oil and gas producers millions of dollars by not forcing them to shut in a platform to change the nuts and bolts on four-bolt flanges.

With that pitch, Josh Suttles and his company, Flange Cuff LLC, pulled ahead of nine other finalists for $25,000 in professional marketing and legal services.

Suttles actually won two contests, one as the crowd favorite voted on by LAGCOE attendees who ventured by the Innovators Tent outside the Cajundome and Visitors Center. And three judges, chosen for their expertise in the oil and gas business, also voted Suttles and his Flange Cuff as the winner.

Suttles and the other nine finalists, all of them chosen earlier this year from a much larger group of entrepreneurs, also were seen making their pitch by over 100 people Thursday. Some of those in the room might approach them later with money or expertise to invest.

"All the ideas were excellent today,” said Thomas Chance, who, with Rick Fontova and Kirby Arceneaux, manned the voting table.

"But we all came up with the same conclusion,” Chance said in announcing the unanimous tally for Suttles and Flange Cuff.

Suttles said he is looking for an equity investment so the company can ramp up manufacturing and that in two years Flange Cuff could bring in revenue of $10 million.

The pitch challenge was a first for the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exhibition, which is in its 60th year. LAGCOE ran Tuesday through Thursday, with events leading up to the opening Tuesday.

"In a time like this, during a downturn in the industry, now is the time to innovate,” said Pete Prados. He heads Innov8 Acadiana, a series of events spread out over the year that fosters and encourages innovation. LAGCOE’s Innovate Pitch Challenge is a similar event sponsored by Innov8 Acadiana, both of which are based on ABC's "Shark Tank."

All of those who made pitches in Lafayette on Thursday had products and inventions tailored to oil and gas, and almost all of them said they believed investors and their products could make millions of dollars, eventually.

One, Dynamic Measurement by Kathleen Haggar, has a patented process that Haggar claims can find oil, natural gas and valuable minerals by accumulating and analyzing lightning-strike data.

"We can see trends in oil and gas fields,” she said.

The judges, however, seemed puzzled when she said the company needs an investment of $50,000, a relatively low dollar amount for oil and gas investment.

Other ideas ranged from smartphone and tablet applications for remote inspections and invoicing, to well-bore drainage tunnels to improve oil and gas flow, to an electric steam machine for use in deep wells to extract heavy oil.

Innov8 Acadiana will hold its Delta Challenge Pitch Event on Nov. 11 at the Picard Center in Lafayette.



BILLY GUNN | The Advocate