Meet the finalist: Tristam Horn, CEO of DeltaTek

How do you feel being about being recognised as a finalist, not once but twice in this year’s Elevator Awards?

It is fantastic feeling and real honour to be a finalist for two Elevator Awards. I would be the first to admit that my journey didn’t start as smoothly as I had hoped. I did what many entrepreneurs with an idea do and went straight to developing, building and testing solutions. Money was running out quickly, so it was back to the drawing board. Luckily for me I was accepted into Elevator’s Accelerator Programme, Cohort 2. I undertook a 12-week entrepreneurial programme, testing, researching, developing, launching and refining the full business from technology to the commercial model, and importantly to get pitch ready.

Without the support and guidance of Elevator when the business was just starting out, DeltaTek would not be where it is today.

What inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey?

I’ve always thought of myself as a problem solver and when working offshore as a drilling engineer and supervisor, I witnessed first-hand the problems experienced at the well-site. Well-construction is an expensive and often slow process due to weather delays and operational complexities which got me thinking that there must be a better way. 

I started to look for a solution, and having identified the problems in well-construction, saw a gap in the market for a simple system which is designed to optimise cement jobs by bringing land cementing techniques to the subsea market. My mission is to save rig time. 

My family was also, and continues to be, a huge inspiration for me and why I decided to start my own business. I wanted to build something for them. 

One of the awards you’ve been recognised in is innovation. As a fairly new technology company to the market, what are the challenges and opportunities you’ve faced?

Being new to the industry is one of the biggest challenges. We operate in a traditionally conservative industry, which is very risk averse, so a major barrier to new technology adoption is being able to demonstrate results. Quantitative results are crucial, but this can be difficult if access to field trials is restricted.

Support from Elevator, the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) and Scottish Enterprise provided me with the starting blocks to help jump-start the DeltaTek journey. Each had a pool of industry partners who offered guidance, support and wider networks to help accelerate the commercialisation process and facilitate field trials with two major operators in the North Sea. 

This provided DeltaTek with the results to demonstrate the benefits of its technologies, which are now field proven. 

As one of our recognised emerging entrepreneurs, what advice would you give for individuals looking to follow in your footsteps?  

Give it a go, be prepared to put everything you have into making it a success, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek out and utilise the resources available to help get your business off the ground. Through the support of Elevator, the OGTC and Scottish Enterprise, I managed to take a struggling start-up forward to become a business that has successfully acquired 30% of the UK market in an unprecedented time frame, taking just nine months from inaugural deployment to being used in almost every other well being drilled in the UK.  

Taking the leap and starting your own business, regardless of sector and industry, is not for the faint-hearted. It is a journey full of excitement, heartache, elation, commiseration and endless hard work but when you see your ideas turn into a reality it makes it all worthwhile!

What are you most excited about for the future?

It has been a whirlwind for DeltaTek over the past 18 months, as the business has grown and continues to go from strength to strength. Our next step is to continue developing our services and technologies, working with our clients and industry partners and begin to follow the pull of our new overseas customers. Ultimately achieving what we set out to do, saving rig time!

Tristam and DeltaTek signage

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