“My high school science teacher is holding a tennis ball in his hand.” George Eiskamp smiles as he mimes the motion. “He says, ‘Imagine someone offers you $1M to hit the ceiling with this tennis ball.” And he tosses the tennis ball up so it just kisses the ceiling with green fuzz. He looks around the classroom. ‘Are you going to throw it softly and risk falling short? Or are you going to nail it?’ And he pitches the tennis ball up to ceiling with all his might, sending it careening violently around the classroom.” George sits back and raises his eyebrows. “From that day on, I knew how I wanted to live life leaving everything on the table.”
We’re sitting in a hotel lobby in Houston, TX. Professionally dressed guests are sitting in buzzing conversation circles around the room. A new skyscraper is under construction next door. Houston is a busy town, all the more so given the boom in the oil and gas industry. That’s actually why we’re here. George is the CEO of GroundMetrics Inc., a San Diego startup with a new electromagnetic sensing technology that can image subsurface resources like water, geothermal sources, oil and gas.
GroundMetrics has been kicking major butt since its inception in 2010 and I’ve been working with George on Special Projects since 2012. They have already done jobs for many of the world’s major oil companies and most of the major mining companies. Almost all of their customers have followed on to purchase subsequent surveys. The U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded them a $1.8M grant to use their technology to monitor subsurface carbon sequestration. They regularly present papers at the leading technical forums in their field and are constantly fencing off new IP territory. They set records for their Series A1 raise for speed and size of close with the Tech Coast Angels. Their Series A2 last Spring was oversubscribed even though they raised the deal ceiling by 50% and they achieved a 2.5X valuation jump in just over a year. Oh, and they’ve got a shelf full of awards to point to.
What I love about GroundMetrics is how they represent the best of San Diego and never take no for an answer. In a town where everyone is always complaining about access to capital, they continue to close top notch financings. In an industry that is infamous for slow technology adoption, they are forging new inroads into major customers and leaving no stone unturned. In an an entrepreneurial culture that bypasses hardware and hard science, they are building sensor systems from scratch based on fundamentally new physics.
GroundMetrics is but one example of the new generation of San Diego startups. These entrepreneurs are building businesses that TechCrunch doesn’t even know they should be covering. They’re capitalizing on the many strengths of San Diego instead of lamenting that they don’t live in Palo Alto. They’re more excited about closing customers than investors. They know that investors dollars follow entrepreneurs and not the other way around. You’re more likely to find them at work than at a meet-up because they’re so busy creating their own success. They’re doing whatever is necessary to generate momentum.
I don’t know about you, but I’m bullish on San Diego. Someone hand me a tennis ball.