The Shell Ideas360 focus on energy, food and water for sustainable development interested Shuyuan, Varun and Samuel. Add to that the global scale of the competition and Shell’s reputation, they knew it would be a valuable way of applying their education outside the confines of university.

As all their studies focused on energy systems, they knew from the outset that their idea would be based on encouraging better energy consumption behaviour. After a lot of brainstorming, they decided to look at the demand for electricity and tried to find a way of influencing people’s consumption behaviour through gamification. Thanks to Shuyuan’s experience in using gamification through Fitocracy, an online gamified social network that encourages people to exercise, their idea was born. “We thought about pairing social media with device monitors – if people could monitor their energy devices and compete with others in their community, perhaps their behavior would be influenced to consume less energy.”

First, they had to write down their idea into a credible proposal. “We poured over every sentence and nit-picked every word,” Varun said. However, creating the pitch video was relatively easy, thanks to Samuel’s video-editing skills, Varun’s narration and ease in front of the camera and Shuyuan’s research skills on YouTube. 

The guys agree that the most challenging part of the process was grappling with the ‘business’ to support the idea. Shuyan explained: “We were a rather homogenous team consisting of three engineers, so we didn’t exactly have an intuitive grasp of business concepts.”

From left to right: Shuyuan Ho, Varun Soni and Samuel Chong

Thankfully, Liz, a Marketing Development Manager at Shell and their mentor, helped them in this area. “Her guidance was invaluable,” Varun said. “When she reviewed the first draft of our proposal, she immediately wanted to know who was going to pay for it all. It forced us to be practical in our approach.”

The five finalist teams are flown into the Netherlands for their final proposal. For Team Energy Shavers, the most memorable part was the trip to Shell International Exploration and Production in Rijswijk. Even though the time leading up to the final was filled with exams and tight deadlines, they were excited about presenting their idea in front of the judges. 

They also enjoyed the dinner where they had the opportunity to talk to Shell Ideas360 mentors and judges. “We got to know Chaco at Shell Gamechanger. He is extremely interesting, and our conversation covered a wide range of topics. He has one of the most incredible minds we have ever come across. Meeting all the game-changers was mind-blowing,” Varun said.

The best advice the team can offer to students who are thinking about entering Shell Ideas360, is to find team mates with complementary strengths. “Beyond technical ability, don’t underestimate the importance of writing ability, understanding your business plan and even video editing,” Shuyuan shared. “The best idea in the world won’t do you much good if you lack the ability to communicate it to the judges.”

Despite not winning, they really enjoyed the entire eight-month journey. “Aside from learning a lot during this time, the most precious thing we’ll take away is the international friendships we made with other finalists,” Varun said. 

Even though the three of them have been in different countries for a year and a half, they still keep in touch and meet up whenever possible. Samuel and Shuyuan have already graduated and Varun will graduate in 2016.

Are you interested in entering Shell Ideas360? Entries are open now and the competition will take place in three stages.

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