Posted by Matt Register

Rebekah Shipman, President of Reservoir Data Systems, talks about running an oil and gas software business.

Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.


Matt Register: And welcome back to Texas Business Radio. I’m your host, Matt Register here as always with Jay Curry.

Jay Curry: Wrapping up a great program today. This has been a lot of fun, a lot of talent.

Matt Register: Well, if you thought we were done, we’re not done. We’ve got more yet to come. We’re going to continue to talk about women entrepreneurs and celebrating women entrepreneurs. We have Rebekah Shipman in the studio.

Rebekah Shipman: Good morning.

Matt Register: Hey, how are you? She is the president of Reservoir Data Systems.

Rebekah Shipman: Yes.

Matt Register: Rebekah, welcome to the show.

Rebekah Shipman: Thank you so much for having me, Matt. It’s an honor to be here.

Matt Register: So tell me a little bit about Reservoir Data Systems.

Rebekah Shipman: So Reservoir Data Systems, we’re an oil and gas technology company, and we service oil and gas exploration production companies. What we do is we provide data acquisition and analysis services. So if I were to compare what we do, it’s very similar … If you go to a doctor and they tell you that you need an operation, you’re hoping that doctor will run test and gather all kinds of information to make sure that’s what you need to do. So that’s what we do with engineers. We help gather data and diagnose what’s going on with their wells so they can fine-tune their designs and saves lots of money.

Matt Register: Got it. So you’re in the data analytics business. Now, are these algorithms and things that you guys have come up with or how proprietary stuff you guys have come up with?

Rebekah Shipman: Some of it, yes. Some of it is very well known in the industry, the oil and gas industry. We do a lot of well testing and things that we expound upon the work of lots of people that came before us, and we try to be on the very edge of the innovative stuff in technology and analysis techniques that are going on for reservoirs.

Matt Register: Got it. So the actual rig operators are the guys that would hire you to take the stream of data that they’re producing and to give them the information that they need to be able to make operational decisions on how to maximize that? Is that-

Rebekah Shipman: So yeah. Reservoir engineers, completion engineers, production engineers, those are the folks that are our customers.

Matt Register: Got it. So this is a nice family business. It’s been around for quite a while, for a decade or so, right?

Rebekah Shipman: Yeah. Since 2004, I believe. Yeah.

Matt Register: So tell us a little bit about that because you are second generation in the business.

Rebekah Shipman: Yeah. Yeah.

Matt Register: And family businesses like we talked about are always a lot of fun and a unique challenge sometimes.

Rebekah Shipman: They are.

Matt Register: But a lot of fun.

Rebekah Shipman: Yeah. Matt, they are. They’re very rewarding, but it is sometimes unique situations that you have to be a little more creative than you would in a normal business, and there’s different dynamics that you have to pay attention to in a family business. But it’s been around since 2004 and started as family. We’ve had phenomenal success and growth, and I think I’ve been at the helm of it since we started, but really been running the business since 2012.

Matt Register: Well, that’s wonderful. And the growth has been a many times growth. I mean we’re talking about a very significant amount of growth.

Rebekah Shipman: Yes.

Matt Register: Talk to us a little bit about that because growing a business like that is not easy.

Rebekah Shipman: No. No.

Matt Register: And there’s a reason why most companies don’t make that leap and get to that size. Talk to us a little bit about some of the challenges you had to overcome because they were numerous, I have not doubt, right?

Rebekah Shipman: Yes. Absolutely. The one that’s the most profound that really sticks out is we are in the oil and gas industry, and that is kind of the looming thing that’s going on with everybody that’s in oil and gas industry. And what we’ve learned … I grew up in oil and gas. And we’ve learned is you’ve got to manage cash. And you can’t over leverage yourself. And why we’ve had really good success, we have grown, but we could have grown a lot faster. In this industry, if you look at when prices go over $50, that hasn’t happened a whole lot in our history of our industry. And so you just have to manage your cash, have enough saved, and don’t over leverage yourself, and that’s really been the key toward growth. So growing slower in this industry and making sure you have enough cash saved and don’t over leverage yourself.

Matt Register: Well, and I tell you what, that’s something that the majority of companies that we end up dealing … 100% of the companies we do turnarounds on. I don’t understand.

Rebekah Shipman: Yeah.

Matt Register: When you’re not over levered or levered at all, it buys you a lot of options. And you exchange that with some slower, steadier growth, but-

Rebekah Shipman: Yeah. It is, but that’s my advice to people that are in this industry. You have to keep that in mind and be careful when you’re growing too fast.

Matt Register: Yeah. Absolutely. And the other thing it allows you options to do, is when things turn down a little bit and all of a sudden you’ve got working capital that’s coming out of your … You’re kind of cash rich when business is going down. It’s a little counter-intuitive, right?

Rebekah Shipman: Sometimes, yeah.

Matt Register: But you had the opportunity and the capital to kind of build the company you want to be in the next upturn, right?

Rebekah Shipman: Yes. But there’s a lot of opportunities for us right now. Yes, absolutely.

Matt Register: That’s good, and your husband is in the business as well, right?

Rebekah Shipman: Yes. Yeah. So surprisingly, I actually love working my husband. We work very well together. So he’s good at certain things. I’m good at others, and he is the best engineer I’ve been around, very brilliant. So I love working with him.

Matt Register: Yeah. That’s wonderful. Now, as a woman, I mean very clearly the oil field is a field dominated by men.

Rebekah Shipman: Absolutely, yes.

Matt Register: Right? So I would imagine a young woman, business owner certainly not the norm in there.

Rebekah Shipman: Yeah.

Matt Register: And tell us about some of the challenges associated with that, I mean, as you started as young woman engineer and business owner?

Rebekah Shipman: Yeah. I definitely had a lot lessons that I’ve learned, but I can tell you that you have to have this mindset. There is no difference between a man and a woman when it comes to business. You have to just take that a really run with it and not think about it. The other thing that I’ve really learned that’s helped me is it’s important for women to learn how to give candid feedback and be okay to do that and hold people accountable. That sometimes is what I’ve seen with other women maybe a little bit of a challenge. And once you’ve mastered that and giving respectful, candid feedback, your company and your management style will really grow with that.

Jay Curry: So don’t wince you’re having to deal with a bunch of guys. You stand up and take the leadership role.

Rebekah Shipman: You do have to be respectful, but learning how to be respectful, but still voice what needs to be voiced is … It’s a skill.

Matt Register: Yeah. And it’s a learning skill and something that … No, that’s good. It’s something that you’ve had to pick up and learn.

Rebekah Shipman: Yeah.

Matt Register: Nothing like a little on-the-job training, though, right?

Rebekah Shipman: Absolutely. A lot of on-the-job training, sure.

Jay Curry: So she’s talked a little bit about growth. Since 2012, you guys have, what tripled or something? I mean it’s an amazing accomplishment.

Rebekah Shipman: Yeah. Since 2012, we’ve had great year-over-year growth, 20, 30%. In 2015, we tripled.

Jay Curry: Tripled?

Rebekah Shipman: Tripled. Yes.

Jay Curry: Wow. Talk about challenges.

Rebekah Shipman: Yes. Yes.

Jay Curry: Congratulations.

Rebekah Shipman: Thank you.

Jay Curry: Good for you.

Rebekah Shipman: Thank you so much.

Matt Register: Well, and there’s a tremendous amount of infrastructure. There’s a lot of things that … I mean I promise you your company look the same originally than it does at three times the size.

Rebekah Shipman: Right.

Matt Register: It looks different. And that’s certainly not something that’s easy to do.

Rebekah Shipman: No.

Matt Register: What do you have plans for in the future? I mean, obviously, now along with everybody, this is a down turn in energy, right?

Jay Curry: Tough market.

Rebekah Shipman: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Matt Register: But having a company that is not over-leverage and well managed is very survivable, right?

Rebekah Shipman: Yes. Absolutely.

Matt Register: What are your plans when oil field comes back? And I say that with certainty in that it always has, right?

Rebekah Shipman: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Matt Register: I’m assuming that it will again.

Rebekah Shipman: Yeah.

Matt Register: What are your plans when that happens?

Rebekah Shipman: So externally, we have a lot of opportunities, and that we’re exploring those, adding to our product line, and gaining market shares is really our strategy right now. And now’s the time to do it. Now’s the time to put all the boots on the ground, making things work.

Matt Register: Sure.

Rebekah Shipman: Internally, we’re practicing what we preach is we’re still continuing to invest in data analytics through our sales and marketing, through our operations, logistics, HR, finance because looking at that data has really given us a competitive edge and has helped us formulate our strategy internally.

Jay Curry: Sure. So you practice what you preach. It’s all about the data, right?

Rebekah Shipman: It really is. It really it. Yeah. Absolutely.

Matt Register: Well, good. Well, Rebekah Shipman, president of Reservoir Data Systems. Rebekah, thank you very much for joining us.

Rebekah Shipman: Thank you, Matt. Thank you, Jay. I appreciate it.

Jay Curry: Yeah. Congratulations on your super success.

Matt Register: Now, if somebody wants to get in touch with you, what’s the easiest way for somebody to get in touch with you?

Rebekah Shipman: The easiest way would be to go to our website. It’s www.reservoirdata.com.

Matt Register: Reservoirdata.com. Guys, go to Texasbusinessradio.com. We’ll have a link for there as well on there as well on the front page. Rebekah, thank you very much joining us.

Rebekah Shipman: Thank you, Matt. Thank you, Jay.

Matt Register: You know we’ve had two weekends now where we’ve had a bunch of ladies come through here that are incredibly impressive.

Jay Curry: Yeah. You talk about competence and success. There’s just a lot out there, and I’m delighted. I think we probably got enough to do a couple more maybe the rest of the year.

Matt Register: We definitely do. We’re going to have to do this again. This was great. We enjoyed it. This is something. Hope you guys enjoyed it. Guys, we have a 24-hour answer line. If you haven’t called it, give it a call, 844-814-8144. Get your questions in throughout the week.

I think we’ve told you about everything we know about it. We’re going to have to go get smart on something else. Come back to you next week with a little bit. Guys, go to the website. See the whole broadcast in beautiful high-definition video. Texasbusinessradio.com. Texasbusinessradio.com. We’re going to see you next week.

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About the Author
Matt Register

Matt Register

In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.

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