Categorized | Shoestring Startup

Equitable Origin: Creating A New Standard For Environmentally & Socially Responsible Oil & Gas Production

About the Founder :

David S. Poritz is the Founder and President of Equitable Origin. For the last ten years he has worked to bring about improved practices and increased accountability in the oil and gas sector. He is a recipient of both the Harry S. Truman and Rhodes Scholarships.

Equitable Origin: Creating A New Standard For Environmentally& Socially ResponsibleOil & Gas Production

Name of your company and URL?

Equitable Origin (EO)

Date started?

January 2009


What is your product or service?

Equitable Origin has developed the EO100 Standard, the first global rating system to evaluate the environmental and social responsibility of oil and gas operations.Just as a Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s rates the credit-worthiness of companies in the financial industry, the EO100 Standard is used by a third-party auditor to rate the environmental and social impact of oil and gas exploration and production sites.
The EO certification process provides guidelines that improve the social and environmental impact of oil and gas exploration and production, encourages responsibly produced fuels and petroleum-derived products, and empowers consumers and businesses to do business and buy products that achieve certification.

Why did you start your company?

Whether one believes that oil is the lifeblood of our modern society, or that we need to rapidly transition to more sustainable forms of energy, it is clear that society will be using petroleum for decades to come. Despite the ubiquity of petroleum products in our global economy, there is no internationally implemented standard to monitor the social and environmental impacts of its exploration and production.

After having worked for years with local and indigenous communities in Latin America I recognized the need to create a system to independently evaluate the environmental and social performance of oil and gas exploration and production companies on a project-by-project basis. It became clear that both industry as well as other actors such as local and indigenous communities and governments needed a rating system and a roadmap to independently verify their corporate social responsibility. Moreover, consumers of oil and gas, which includes nearly all of us, needed a mechanism that allowed them to support the companies implementing the most responsible production practices. Just as Fair Trade and FSC have helped to dramatically improve the production practices of the agricultural and the forestry sectors respectively, the oil industry needed a similar system that was grounded in a standard and a consumer facing seal of approval.

How was it financed?

Equitable Origin is a for-profit social enterprise that is financed by socially minded investors who seek both positive environmental and social benefit as well as financial returns from their investment.

Date officially launched?

January 2009

What free online or offline tools do you use?

We use Google Apps to manage our company email.

Do you use Social Media tools like Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn or?

Yes, we use Facebook, Twitter and Flickr

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

We currently have eleven full time employees and seven independent contractors.

What is the best advice you never got?

The most important skill for success in business is the ability to communicate clearly and manage expectations amongst both employees and clients.

What almost killed your business in the start?

We embarked on a very costly market research project at our inception. More than the cost, the project’s scope was extremely ambitious so the quality of the deliverable products suffered. It was originally scoped out to last only 16 weeks yet ended up lasting more than one year. This lengthy and costly project put a strain on both personal resources and our limited capital base.

Thankfully we were successful at raising additional funds to cover the project’s cost, and as the project dragged on we leveraged our in-house staff to both cut costs and produce deliverables that continue to serve us to this day.

Equitable Origin: Creating A New Standard For Environmentally& Socially ResponsibleOil & Gas ProductionWhat is the one thing that you did right?

We brought together a stellar group of individuals from diverse backgrounds and with a wide array of experiences. Seeking to transform one of the largest industries in the world is a difficult task; and we knew we had to put together a team that had both the network and experience to do so.

When starting a company, all you have is an idea and by selling the vision of Equitable Origin we were able to attract a qualified, credible and hardworking team to both develop and scale our business.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

Our greatest transition was the process of bringing on new employees who were not involved in the creation of the company in the early days. When new employees are hired they inevitably change the dynamic of the company which can be difficult given that people add different value at different times in the creation of an entity.

Are you currently in the black or red?

We are currently in the red.

What type of marketing or advertising do you do?

We spend significant effort on public relations and media placement so that we are able to express our opinions in articles that relate to the oil and gas industry as well as corporate social responsibility. We see the media as a far more credible mechanism to spread knowledge about our business activities when compared to conventional marketing. Given the social mission and innovative nature of our business it is a story that many media outlets are excited about highlighting.

What would make your business more “Successful”?

Further adoption from industry players will add to our existing success. Given that we seek to create the De-facto environmental and social standard in the oil and gas industry increased implementation will further propel us toward success.

Equitable Origin: Creating A New Standard For Environmentally& Socially ResponsibleOil & Gas ProductionWould you want to be acquired by a bigger company, run it yourself or sell in a couple of years?

We seek to turn Equitable Origin into the leading global assurance body for all extractive industries, including oil, gas and mining. As such, we will make the decision that best prepares the company and the system for global growth. The larger our system, the greater the environmental and social benefit will be. The decision of an IPO or acquisition will need to wait until we are clearer on our growth trajectory.

What do you think your projected annual revenue will be?

We hope to have annual revenues of $800,000

How long do you think it will take you to get to your projected annual revenue?

We should begin to generate revenue by the end of the second quarter of this year and reach our revenue targets by end of 2012.

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