Shell’s announcement to engage with 25-30 start-ups every year from 2022 onwards through its E4 Programme is only the most recent in a line of initiatives undertaken by private players to help Indian startups.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to batter businesses around the world, with start-ups being particularly badly hit with funding drying up and markets being in a continuous state of flux.

In India, start-ups have taken these disruptions head on. According to a recent report by Venture intelligence, Indian start-ups raised $1150 million funding across 52 deals and received $468 million in venture funding across 51 deals during October 2020.

Yet this the pandemic with it brings a daily note of caution with it. For example, as optimistic as the numbers for October are, they are far lower than the $1150 million funding in September.

In a recent column, Dr Param Shah, Director FICCI told India Global Business that, “Innovative products and business models will be key for start-ups to build resilience in this market, but a steady flow of funds is crucial, particularly for early stage start-ups.”

Shell steps up

In order to help these start-ups, build resilience, private players and the government will need to come together to create a conducive ecosystem that will help these early entrepreneurs. The Modi government has already stepped up on rolling out several reforms to help start-ups. Start-up India, its flagship programme for Indian start-ups, has already clocked a 57 per cent growth in the number of government-recognised start-ups.

From around 24,927 companies recognized as start-ups in November last year by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the number has jumped to 39,114 start-ups as of November 3, 2020, according to the data from the Start-up India portal.

Energy company Shell India is one of the latest private players to step up and help Indian start-ups. The company is planning to engage with 25-30 start-ups every year from 2022 onwards through its E4 Programme to help them scale their business.

The company in the last three years has been able to engage with 30 start-ups and supported them with investments and mentoring at Shell campus located in India.

“We have 30 start-ups now that have come through the E4 program and we’re in the process of adding 10 to 12 more that’ll start the program in January. We’re planning on ramping the program to 25 to 30 annually.

“So, the first couple of years have been a slow ramp to get there and now we’re at that run rate where we expect 25 to 30 annually,” Shell E4 Programme, general manager, James Unterreiner told PTI. “We bring not just Shell’s capabilities, but all these partners’ capabilities to enhance that package and make it really rich and deep for them and then lastly offer them $20,000. Our ask in return for that is $200,000 with equity in their company and that ask is primarily to ensure that we’re working with committed start-ups.”

  • The Shell E4 program builds upon the company’s global vision to support the energy sector’s evolving ecosystem.
  • Shell E4 Program has four tracks each track is designed to support start-ups at various maturity levels and their unique needs.
  • Current program tracks are: Growth Track (Start-up with pilotable products/solutions)