Eleven months ago, Brennan Potts was starting a new business from his kitchen table and a nearby Starbucks, just like many entrepreneurs got their starts.
Unlike many entrepreneurs, he had $20 million to invest in that new business. He and his partners were buying minority pieces of horizontal shale wells in properties in South Texas and West Texas and some of the best shale plays in the United States, drilling for oil and gas using horizontal drilling technology (better known as “fracking”).
The 29-year-old recently was recognized in the 30 Under 30 issue of Forbes magazine. The article said Brennan “teamed up with two older oil and gas veterans to form Titanium Exploration Partners in 2014. The firm has raised $300 million in equity funding (fracking is capital intensive) and amassed interests in over 25,000 acres and 100 wells.” Brennan, who was nominated for the issue and was whisked off to New York for interviews and photo and video shoots, says he’s not really enjoying the press or attention. Rather, he is “just trying to navigate building my business in a $45 oil market.”
Being an entrepreneur is firmly embedded in Brennan’s DNA. His grandparents on both sides ran their own businesses in real estate and farming and his dad Randy ’78– who Brennan calls his inspiration — built his own Dallas real estate firm.
There’s also a bit of Baylor DNA floating around the Potts family. Brennan’s paternal grandmother ran a real estate business and raised five boys by herself and sent them all to Baylor. Brennan’s brother also went to Baylor as did his wife Jenna ’08, and Brennan says his newborn daughter Presley — born last week — can go “anywhere she wants for college but I’m only paying for Baylor.”
Brennan received his BBA in real estate from Baylor, but made a sharp pivot into the energy business when the real-estate market went south. Before Titanium, Potts worked for Valor Petroleum and at Upland Oil & Gas, where he worked on a deal to acquire drilling rights on 39 million acres in Peru.
So setting aside your entrepreneur gene for a second, how did Baylor help you arrive on your current path?
“First and foremost, it was the excellent network that I built at school and with people after I graduated that I didn’t know while I was at Baylor,” he says. “And the top-tier education and culture of excellence gave me the confidence to go out and be successful.”
Asked what makes him different from others his age, he says “I really believe it’s about being in the right place at the right time and recognizing the opportunity. Some people have ideas that are a few years too early, some a few years too late. I was lucky to be able to participate with two guys who have done this before and to build a business during the U.S. shale revolution.”
But Potts is quick to add that despite the Forbes recognition, he really hasn’t achieved success yet: “I’m still in building mode; it’s the early innings. But I do feel that I’m off to a very good, fast start.”