We recently caught up with Acton grads Kyle Davis (’12) and Tom Hull(’12), who met at Acton and decided to launch their Acton opportunity project after they graduated. They shared some of their experiences with raising money and launching their new company Charger Services, LLC.
Company: Charger Services, LLC
Founded: June 2012
Headquarters: Midland, TX
About: Charger Services is a specialized construction company dedicated to supporting the oil and gas industry. After a drill site has been determined, the firm comes in and prepares the location for drilling. This includes leveling the sub grade and trucking in material to create a large, football field-sized surface so that the well can be drilled. In addition to spreading material, watering and packing it, they may also build pits in the earth to hold drilling fluids and frac water.
“I originally started working on the business plan back in January of 2012, while I was still at Acton,” explained Kyle. “It got Tom’s interest and we decided to pursue it as our opportunity project and then as our business. We discovered a need for the service through interviews with company employees and basic math. The math indicated that the number of drilling rigs had doubled in the area and the number of days to complete a well has continued to go down, indicating a huge increase in demand for locations.”
The two refined the plan from February through April, but they knew they’d need to raise money to cover the necessary primary investment.
“It helped that we were able to work on it as part of our Acton project,” said Kyle. With their eyes on a May launch, the partners began raising money starting during their March break.
“We actually thought raising money would be easier,” confided Kyle. “It was a much bigger challenge than I had ever dreamed. It was frustrating and slow and it felt like it might never happen. Just when I was about to go crazy, I raised $750,000 in financing in what seemed to be an hour. It is both extremely exciting and scary to take responsibility for your investor’s money. This is when I knew the work had just begun.
“We raised that $750,000 in six units in late May. We structured the investment so that we secured $150,000 in cash and $600,000 in personal guarantees to secure a line of credit,” Kyle said. This investment gave Charger Services 90 days of working capital, and the line of credit secured the Caterpillar equipment that they needed.
As of September 2012, Charger Services has six employees, including Kyle and Tom. “We operate in crews with four workers and five pieces of machinery,” explained Tom. “Our goal is to add a crew every six months until we reach six crews in total.”
Lessons Learned at Acton
In their experiences, Tom cites two lessons learned at Acton as playing a critical part in their success.
“First is that almost all issues are people issues. As you learn at Acton, sort out the people and the rest can fall into place,” he explained. “Without the people in the company there is nothing to build on.
“Second is prioritization,” Tom continued. “I am constantly thinking about the two or three most important objectives. There are hundreds of little things I could address, only a few are crucial – I have to get them fixed. But I love waking up everyday knowing the day is crucial and that the foundation of the business is being built with every action. Patterns and relationships are being established that will define what we are able to accomplish.”
Kyle added, “Most days I probably work 14 hours on average and the time just flies by. The days are so much better than my eight-hour days before Acton, when I worked for someone else. It’s a big difference. The lifestyle of working for myself has been a lot of fun. It’s hard work but I enjoy it. And it’s really had a positive impact on every part of my life.”