Taking Castrol Beyond Motor Oil

The Castrol 20/20 Challenge provided impressive and innovative ideas leading to us working with 7 out of 10 startups from the program
Roy Williamson
Managing Director

Going Beyond Motor Oil

In 2012, we were approached by Castrol innoVentures to help increase its deal flow and strengthen its presence and visibility in the global startup community. 

At the time, Castrol had just set up its strategic innovation and investment arm in order to bring additional value to its existing business areas, and to take Castrol beyond motor oils and lubricants and into future focused revenue streams.

Together with the team at Castrol innoVentures, we designed a global pitch competition to act as a sourcing and screening program, allowing us to meet and evaluate startups relevant for Castrol to work with.The program resulted in Castrol making a direct investment in one startup and commercial partnerships with seven others.

"we were approached by Castrol innoVentures to help increase its deal flow and strengthen its presence and visibility in the global startup community."

How to Put Castrol On the Global Startup Map

In today’s venture capital environment, startups are not short on sources of investment. There are hundreds of institutional firms, angel investors and CVC’s.

We needed a way to put Castrol on startups’ radar as a valuable partner, both to work with, and to have on their cap table.

The focus was for us to find startups innovating in 4 strategic areas: Smart Mobility, next generation engineering, intelligent operations, and responsible Castrol.

Building a Startup Friendly Brand

We built a brand around the project: the Castrol 20/20 Challenge.

A selection of startup finalists would receive free flights and accommodation to London or Shanghai in order to pitch their business to Venture Capitalists and Castrol executives. The winning team was to receive 10,000 USD.

A brand website was launched, promoting the competition to potential applicants and spreading the word throughout the global startup community. Both the brand and website were fundamental in positioning Castrol as a company ready to make investments and meaningfully engage with startups.

Over 2,000 Startups Reviewed

With our marketing efforts driving competition applications, and outreach from our dedicated sourcing team, we attracted and reviewed over 2,000 startups.

Drawing on our experience mentoring and selecting startups for our Startupbootcamp programs and our own investments, we created a shortlist of 20 companies based on their applications and 1-1 interviews.

Together with Castrol innoVentures, we conducted further interviews to narrow the selection to just five startups in each of two competition finals in London and Shanghai.

Preparing Startups for Collaboration with Corporates

In both London and Shanghai, we worked with the startups and mentors one day prior to the final events to prepare the teams. We helped them hone their pitches and introduced ways that they could more effectively work with major corporations.T

he following day, the startups pitched and met with over 30 Venture Capitalists, alongside executives from Castrol and other notable corporations like 3M.

The events not only provided immense value to the startups, in terms of connections and networking with experts, but also gave Castrol a platform to engage with the startups early on.

"Castrol 2020 Challenge provided impressive and innovative ideas and we work with 7 out of 10 teams from the 2012 program"
Roy Williamson
Castrol InnoVentures, Managing Director

Creating and Capitalising on Investment Opportunities

Castrol InnoVentures ultimately invested in Greensteam, a ground breaking technology company specializing in energy saving solutions for commercial vessels.

The events proved to be a success, so we hosted a second edition, this time exclusively in Shanghai.

Castrol innoVentures remains an active player in the mobility space and has made further investments in a range of startups.

Want to learn more about engaging with startups to access innovation?

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