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Apr 07, 2023
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The person on the other side of the negotiation table is not your counterparty - it's not about winning.

-Christine Vincent, Venture Principal, Shell Ventures.

Team 100X interviewed some of the top investors across the globe about their venture investing journeys, startups, and India.Here,Christine Vincent, Venture Principal, Shell Ventures shares her responses.

Q1. What is your motivation to be in venture investing business?

Growing up I was that geek with bulky glasses and in some ways I still am (without the glasses though). As quoted by Henry Ford, I strongly believe that anyone who keeps learning keeps the mind young. It is this passion for learning that's been my driving force in the venture business that has no dearth of knowledge. It's a privileged position to be in when you get to meet and have conversations with so many inspiring founders day in day out and gain insights from their unique experiences and domain expertise amongst many other things. And when you get to play a small part in these entrepreneurs’ growth journeys as an investor, it's just all the more rewarding.

Q2. Describe your workday and leisure day, how does it look like.

One of the most important roles I play at work revolves around finding the rare gem in our startup ecosystem. This involves meeting and talking to a number of companies who align with our investment thesis. Sometimes they're already in the market to raise funds and at other times, we're just building a relationship until any future funding round.

A big chunk of my time also involves working on any deal that we've internally decided to evaluate further. This also includes all team meetings and IC discussions.

Another essential part of my role is to keep myself updated on thematic, macros and industry trends.

I also frequently engage with my friends and colleagues in the ecosystem - meeting them 1-1 or at investor and other industry events. This is great to bounce ideas off each other, share our learnings and deal experiences

 Additionally, I spend a lot of time with our portfolio companies working on areas which are a priority for them - this could be across business model, growth strategy, access to clientele network, fundraising for next round, etc.

When I get time off, I spend it with my family - we love our game nights. I also like my alone time, which I spend reading or listening to music or catching up with the latest on Netflix. On longer time-offs, I love travelling to new places.

Q3. What is your view on the future of India as a market?

On the one hand, India has the 3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world with a ranking of 46 among 130 economies of the world in the Global Innovation Index (GII). On the other hand, India now is the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter and hence, crucial to figure out how we can produce more energy while reducing carbon emissions.

India has set ambitious targets such as reaching net zero emissions by 2070, deploying 450 GW of renewables to meet 50% of its electricity requirements from renewable energy sources by 2030 and ensuring that 30% of all personal vehicle sales be electric vehicles by 2030.

Climate mitigation through clean energy transition is, therefore, where I see the next biggest opportunity is for our startup ecosystem. India is certainly well positioned to become a global leader in areas such as renewable batteries and green hydrogen. Along with other low-carbon technologies, this alone could be an $80 billion market in India by 2030.

Q4. Help describe your investment thesis and ideas you would like to back.

Shell Ventures, being the Corporate VC arm of Shell, aims to deliver on Shell's Powering Progress Strategy by investing in innovative companies that are working to accelerate energy transformation.

In 2021, we increased our commitment to startups and announced a dedicated $1.4B fund focused on Power, Mobility, Digital and Emission Management.

More specifically, we look at renewable power systems (including solar, wind, connected energy and storage), new fuels for transport (including hydrogen and biofuels), mobility solutions (including e-mobility, connected mobility and freight), resources (including oil and gas technologies, chemicals), emission management (including CCS/CCUS, nature-based solutions, and methane management solutions) and digital solutions that are relevant to energy.

Q5. What are your 5 key learnings from your experience as a venture investor?

To always be humble, curious and willing to listen.

To say no without sounding arrogant.

To multitask without getting burnt out.

That the person on the other side of the negotiation table is not your counterparty - it's not about winning.

Managing adversity - especially when your portfolio companies go through a rough patch. There's a reason we believed in them in the first place - so we need to stick by them through their challenging times and help them through it.

Q6. Top 5 advice you would give to startup founder.

Know your customers - have a thorough understanding of the problem, ensure there's a large enough market and then build a solution to address the problem, not the other way round

Don't worry about perfecting your product - if it's 90% done, get it out in the market and commercialize. You can always get feedback and iterate

Don’t shy away from asking for help from mentors and VCs, especially in the early stages (but choose them wisely).

Be frugal from the get go and always know your numbers - there's always going to be funding cycles but when your unit economics work, it doesn't matter if it's winter or summer.

Focus on the right KPIs - Revenue vs GMV, team quality vs team size, growth rate vs awards and press release.

Q7. Which of your portfolio companies are you very excited about and why?

It's a tough choice - all of them are our babies and each has got its unique innovations and market opportunities across various areas of the energy value chain

One of our 2021 investments was in a company called Detect Technologies based out of Chennai. They offer a suite of solutions using AI machine vision and sensors to turn operational data into actionable Insights. This enables improved ops efficiency, integrity and safety.

Within Shell, we have deployed their T-Pulse SaaS solution at Port Allen, Louisiana and Jurong, Singapore. Integrated with our HSSE platform, this helps us with live monitoring of assets and provides real-time insights and alerts to our supervisors. So far, Detect has helped us identify numerous safety risks in both assets, which has led to enormous improvements in our HSSE systems across Shell's assets.

Besides Shell, they have other marquee clients too such as Exxon and Tata. Detect is now expanding their customer base in North America. With Houston, TX as their North American headquarters, they have signed multi-year global contracts with Fortune 500 industries.

With their exemplary industry testimonials and a truly global platform, we are very excited to see where their journey takes them.

About Christine Vincent:

Christine is a Venture Capitalist and an ex Investment Banker who has led multiple early stage tech investments across the UK and India. She is currently a Venture Principal at Shell Ventures, with a focus on Clean mobility, green power, decarbonization and other solutions that help making strides towards achieving net zero goals.

She has worked with multiple startup founders who have brought about some of the most inspiring and disruptive emerging technologies to the market. She strongly believes in making a conscious effort towards acquiring knowledge everyday. Her journey as a venture capitalist began with a Master of Science (MS) focused on Financial Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA, specializing in Finance, from the UK.

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