Lucas Jonis is a 25-year-old oceanographer who recently started his own business. Like most aspiring entrepreneurs, he found the process of turning an idea into a commercial enterprise a challenge.

“I spent several years researching the market and I had an idea I believed in,” he says. But I didn’t know how to shape it into a product and a business.”

Lucas developed his business idea while studying at university and working as an intern for an environmental survey company.

There, he realised that the methods used to conduct environmental and industrial surveys were often expensive, low-tech and outdated. He decided to develop a more efficient and less costly alternative by using remotely operated aerial vehicles – known as “drones” to most people – to take high-quality images and generate better survey data.

He calls his company Neo Vision, and within the first six months of operating has already worked with two research institutes and signed partnership agreements with two large Brazilian companies.

Starting a company has not been easy. Despite limited money and time, Lucas is convinced he is doing the right thing.

“I feel like I'm living what I always dreamed,” he says. “While the financial returns are yet to come, I feel absolutely satisfied professionally, and that means a lot to me.”

Supporting the local economy

Lucas and his two partners received valuable advice and training from a Shell social investment programme in Brazil called Shell Iniciativa Empreendedora (Shell Entrepreneurial Initiative). Theirs was one of 16 fledgling companies selected from 450 applicants to take part in the inaugural 2013 edition of the annual programme.

The programme encourages entrepreneurs of any age to develop business opportunities that support the oil and gas industry in Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo states, where the industry – including Shell – is most active. Off the coast, Shell operates the deep-water Parque das Conchas project, unlocking oil in waters 1,800 metres deep.

Each participant in the programme receives 80 hours of training in how to start and run a viable and sustainable business. Topics include business strategy, sales and marketing, accounting, business ethics and social responsibility, and the oil and gas value chain.

Natália Vital in her hostel, Hostel Plataforma

A place to sleep

Another who benefited from the programme is 29-year-old Natália Vital. 

Natália started a hostel – Hostel Plataforma – for oil and gas workers in the city of Macae. Many job-seekers flock to Macae in the hope of finding work in Brazil’s growing oil and gas industry. Hotels are very expensive, so there is a need for affordable and comfortable accommodation. 

Natália renovated the property herself and opened for business in June 2014. The hostel has seven bedrooms and can accommodate 28 guests. Despite an initial struggle she is already planning to expand: “Demand is rising every day. We are already planning to increase the number of beds to 38 in the near future.”

Do you have a bright idea?

Shell Iniciativa Empreendedora is the Brazilian edition of Shell’s LiveWIRE social investment programme, which provides young entrepreneurs in 15 countries with access to essential business knowledge and customised support. In Brazil, it is open to people of all ages. 

Find out if Shell LiveWIRE is available where you live or visit Shell Iniciativa Empreendedora in Brazil.

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