Thor Kallestad

Stop and create time and space for your head frequently, in order to really think, and come up with meaningful insights.


Thor is a former Schlumberger Anadrill Field Engineer. He has worked extensively on the North Slope, in the North Sea and offshore Africa, in addition to numerous other locations. He spent the bulk of his oilfield career on rigs, drilling several high profile wells and conducting field tests on new equipment. Upon leaving Schlumberger, Thor worked as a drill site manager and led corporate development and commercial efforts for an E&P startup. He has a Petroleum Engineering Diploma from Heriot-Watt University and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

When we learned nobody was providing real-time, high resolution rock mass evaluation services for the mining industry, we decided we were well poised to make a run at it. We also realized the timing was perfect–new technologies from Silicon Valley were emerging that could revolutionize mining.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

To make my days productive, I try to set up the day by getting organized and prepared the night before. A typical day for me is meetings and phone calls almost exclusively, and in the evening when the kids are in bed, I can catch up on the things I need to actually do, while preparing for the next day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Perseverance, persuasion, and trial and error.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The neverending promise of youth. I think society’s younger generation (less than ~30 years old) will put so much more into the system than they take out. Unfortunately, this needs to happen, because the older generations (over ~50) have taken a lot more out than they’ve put in. Technology, humanity’s “fighting spirit,” and the rapid and nearly unfettered spread of information will drive this.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Recruit people you can trust, delegate, and turn them loose.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Save 20 percent of each paycheck and just put it in an S&P 500 index fund. Also, marry the right partner. I fortunately got that right, as picking a spouse is the most important decision in life.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

The future is going to be so much better than the past.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

To quote Craig Finn and the Hold Steady, “Stay Positive”.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Turn good, creative people free to work and feed the beast. There is only so much one person can do, so you must focus your efforts on empowering and enabling as many competent people as possible in order to amplify your abilities.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I bought a bunch of oil and gas leases right before the price collapsed. So I sold fast! The lesson learned was to take your medicine quickly and completely when trouble brews.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

You are what you eat. Start businesses that make it fast, easy, and tasty for people to improve their diets. This is the best way to cut health care spending in the US from about 18 percent of GDP (crazy high) to about 10 percent of GDP (in line w/the rest of the western world). In America, this alone represents an almost $8 trillion opportunity.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Although it cost more than $100, my electric bike is one of my best recent purchases.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Slack. Couldn’t live without it!

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. It’ll teach you how much BS exists in conventional wisdom (accepted history, in the case of the book), and how you must really work and dig to get truth in life.

What is your favorite quote?

“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Key Learnings:

  • You need to stop and create time and space for your head frequently, in order to really think, and come up with meaningful insights. Just having to focus for a while to answer these questions reminds me of this fact.
  • A given set of new technologies (IoT, cloud, big data, AI, etc, in our case), will affect different industries, in different ways, at different times. Due to its capital requirements, the mining industry could not have been a “first mover” in terms of adopting these new technologies. However, because it is so capital intensive, these new technologies will have a very large and positive economic effect on the mining industry. Additionally, by not “going first,” mining companies will be able to learn from other industries as to how best to apply / incorporate things like IoT, AI, cloud, etc. This is indeed a giant opportunity for the mining companies and their suppliers / vendors
  • Youthful energy, optimism, and technology will overcome a lot of problems