'The Intent Is To Nurture Entrepreneurs Across The Value Chain' Debasis Goswami, GM, Shell E4 Startup Hub
The future of the programme looks promising with our focus expanding from generalist themes under energy to include more diverse and specific themes and sub-sectors.
Significance of the Shell E4 start-up programme and how it is different from other start-up accelerators?
Despite hundreds of incubators and accelerators in India, we found an absence of programs for energy technologies. The Shell E4 program was launched to facilitate a transition to a sustainable energy future by acting as a significant player in India’s entrepreneurial context. This program was established to link talent, technology, capital, and know-how with the most promising Indian startups in the sustainable energy space. The program has a core mission: “to empower and enable identified Indian entrepreneurs working on energy-related startups to become sustainable, profitable and significantly impactful organizations.”
The mission objectives are threefold:
a. to co-create and develop the start-up ecosystem in India;
b. to offer a world-class start-up hub to support and enable energy-related start-ups; and
c. to establish a strong investor network for energy-focused start-ups
What are the sectors being catered to by the start-ups in the current cohort and how are they contributing to technological advancements?
The startups in E4 portfolio represent various technology domains, including e-mobility, energy management, energy efficiency, Internet of Things solutions, and waste to value. The current digital track, for example, focuses on digital solutions for the industrial, mobility, and energy sectors.
The startups are working on interesting technologies and contributing to advancements through various pilots and deployments, For Example, Energos, Part of our fourth cohort. They help to increase energy efficiency for industrial and commercial clients by using an intelligent energy-optimization platform. This platform improves energy efficiency and energy demand forecasting for heating, cooling and ventilation systems, distributed energy systems, energy storage; and electric vehicles. The company has recently started a pilot project with Shell India that is providing energy management, compliance, and maintenance solutions to reduce energy costs and carbon footprints for Retail outlets
How much investment has Shell made in these start-ups?
The startups selected to the E4 program is awarded a grant of USD 20,000 upfront. In addition, we support the startups through investments in pilots, trainings, access to Labs & Consumables
What kind of support is Shell providing these start-ups with?
The key support for a Shell E4 start-up is many. For six months, the start-ups are housed in a vibrant coworking space at Shell Technology Centre Bangalore, arguably the leading energy research and development center in India. Each company is offered seed funding of $20,000 and access to:
a. State-of-the-art testing and prototyping laboratories for product development and testing.
b. Bootcamps aimed at customer discovery and product improvement
c. Top industry mentors and experts
d. New markets and interactions with investors, and other growth and funding opportunities
e. Potential opportunities to engage in pilots and Additional support like procuring chemicals on behalf of the startups, procuring prototyping services, provide fabrication support, etc. This can run into tens of thousands of US Dollars spent per startup
How many start-ups has Shell trained/engaged with till date? How many more do you plan to engage with in the upcoming editions of E4 programme?
Since the program was established, 38 start-ups have graduated from the Shell E4 program. We plan to work with around 25 startups on a yearly basis going forward
How has the programme evolved since its inception?
Since 2017, we incubated five cohorts of start-ups. This means we have worked with 38 start-ups in different areas, such as Mobility Solutions, Energy Management, Clean technology, Energy IoT Applications, Digital Solutions, Logistics, Waste to value, to name a few.
The programme has significantly evolved through the years both in scale and expanse. We have increased the number of startups year on year and have also brought in several valuable partners on board. Corporate partners not only provide funding, but they also provide opportunities for pilot programs and technology deployment. These partners have the chance to foster the development of novel energy-related technologies and business models while helping to co-create and grow the energy start-up ecosystem. We have also started working with India’s academic ecosystem because we need to continue developing the next generation of energy start-ups. We are also developing student internship opportunities to work with the Shell E4 hub
Starting from a broader energy theme we have eventually focused on two energy tracks: the smart energy track or the digital track. The digital track, for example, focuses on digital solutions for the industrial, mobility and energy sectors
Each year, we define several key energy-related themes that reflect national and Shell energy-related priorities and use these to guide our selection process We are currently working with our sixth cohort, which focuses on clean energy themes including biofuels, e-mobility, new battery chemistries, energy storage and energy access solutions
We would like to see more disruptive start-ups in the energy space, which can bring substantial value to Shell and the wider energy ecosystem. We aspire to be a world-class energy start-up that helps to build and lead the energy start-up ecosystem across India. The Shell E4 hub aims to play a significant and leading role in driving the energy transition, not only within Shell but also across the whole of India
What is the significance of the Demo Day (Graduation ceremony of these start-ups)? How will Shell keep an active engagement with these start-ups post the Demo Day?
Demo Day is India’s largest annual energy entrepreneurship conference and the flagship event of the Shell E4 programme. The event provides a valuable platform for the Shell E4 start-ups to showcase and pitch themselves to the energy start-up ecosystem. As part of the day, we aim to bring together the Indian and global energy start-up sector to discuss and ideate on the future of energy and enabling pathways that can lead to a net-zero-carbon future. Last year, we had our first virtual Demo Day event, which was very well received. We had invaluable participation from global Shell colleagues, partner companies, start-ups, investors and educational institutions. We had more than 3,000 people joining the event, including national media, plus more than 8,000 online views, including 50% from outside India. It is very positive to see the increasing global reach of the Shell E4 programme and Demo Day. This is helping us to grow our important worldwide partnership base.
This year’s Demo Day is on 6–7 October 2021. The event will bring together key actors in the Indian energy start-up ecosystem and provide a platform on which the start-ups can engage with potential investors. We have an experienced and international panel of speakers lined up for the event who will share insights on the energy transition, scaling up start-ups and developing new and disruptive business models and technologies
Our themes for this event are,
Day 1: #Future of Energy
Day 2: #Energy Entrepreneurship
What is the future ahead for Shell E4 programme?
The future of the programme looks promising with our focus expanding from generalist themes under energy to include more diverse and specific themes and sub sectors. With the 4th and 5th cohort of the programme focused on start-ups providing digital energy solutions and future of mobility for India, respectively. The programme is well aimed at nurturing entrepreneurs across the value chain.
Shell E4 is working extensively with the Energy Startup ecosystem in India to scale the next-gen startups by enabling Tier- 2 entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurship. Going forward we will work towards getting 30% of our Startups joining our Tracks from Tier -2 locations and founded / co- founded by Women Entrepreneurs
Shell E4 is working with Educational Institutions and Incubators based in Universities & Colleges to support entrepreneurship in campuses through focused Innovation Challenges, Mentorships, Research Connects
What are the eligibility criteria for startups to participate in this programme? What benefits are associated with this programme?
We scout and invite applications from a significant number of Indian start-ups each year and use a rigorous four-stage process to assess, rank and select a final cohort of 10 to 12 companies. The start-ups are placed on one of two energy tracks: the smart energy track or the digital track. The digital track, for example, focuses on digital solutions for the industrial, mobility and energy sectors.
We are currently working with our sixth cohort, which focuses on clean energy themes including biofuels, e-mobility, new battery chemistries, energy storage and energy access solutions. Applications are currently being received and assessed. We hope to start this cohort in mid-November 2021
We have seen tremendous progress since we launched the programme. Most of the start-ups we have worked with are now doing well in the market. With every cohort, we are also learning how to enhance the programme to stay relevant and increase value for the Indian start-up ecosystem. The Shell E4 programme has had a significant positive impact on all start-ups involved:
a. better clarity on market sizing and customer segmentation.
b. improved understanding of the brand promise and the attributes of a value proposition
c. clear route to market that should help them to scale their product design
d. clarity on revenue, pricing and unit margin to scale and gain investor confidence to raise funds;
e. clarity on their differentiation from their competition; and
f. the ability to enter new markets and scale globally
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