Team Renaissance applied to Shell Ideas360 in 2014 without an idea, and ended up as our eventual winners. As we approach the entry deadline for 2016, we caught up with our 2015 Champions to talk teamwork, the importance of dreaming big, and dogsledding in Sweden.
Nitya, Alex and May of Team Renaissance sat down with us as part of the Shell Ideas360 Google Hangout programme. Confident and comfortable in each other’s company, they arrived early, came fully prepared and spoke passionately about their work. Therefore, to hear that they entered by chance, and without an idea, came as a bit of a surprise.
“We signed up for the competition first, and then started brainstorming” reveals Nitya, a Computer Science major, “We came across a Shell Ideas360 poster on campus. The focus on innovation and the Stress Nexus appealed to us... so we tried analysing challenges that we faced in our daily lives to see how we could make a difference, to make things better for ourselves and the world.”
Nitya explains that they would test potential ideas amongst their friends to “help validate our ideas”, but they were eventually inspired by their yearlong stay in the United States where they witnessed “excessive” food waste.
“In the United States we experienced a number of instances where expired food had to be thrown out because it was bought in bulk,” says Nitya. Alex interjects, saying, “It wasn’t long before we identified the potential of an expiry date tracking system for consumers and submitted our application.”
They look at each other knowingly.
That application was Food Basket, a mobile app that aims to reduce food wastage by enabling consumers to track the expiry date of the food they buy, and make real-time recipe recommendations.
Alex, who studies Civil Engineering, is open about the step up in work required to take the idea forward in Stage 2 and Stage 3.
“A lot of effort went in to the video production, business plan and presentation preparation,” he explains, pointing out the benefits to his course through “learning from my peers and being able to integrate feedback and suggestions.”
May – also a Computer Science Major – expands on this, saying, “Shell Ideas360 got us thinking deeper about technical and business feasibility around an idea. This helps us better translate our engineering theories into practical applications. It’s a unique experience.”
The only time during our conversation they appear less than confident is when they are asked how they found pitching their idea to a panel of Shell executives. “It was a nerve-racking experience”, they all agree, but reasoned that it enabled them to put their skills and abilities to the test in a “really positive way.”
So, what’s next for Team Renaissance? Graduating of course, but first they will be claiming their prize of a National Geographic Adventure. May’s eyes light up.
“We are going to Sweden and dogsledding to the Ice Hotel next March! We are really looking forward to it!” she says.
Before we let them go, we ask what advice they have for students who consider participating in the Shell Ideas360 competition. Alex pauses before saying, “Dream big and take small steps together towards a common goal.”
We couldn’t agree more.