An Interview With Blue Ocean 2018-2019 Competition Second Prize Winner, Dumplings

Sidney Hough – 2020

Saratoga High School – Saratoga, CA

“The Blue Ocean Student Entrepreneur Competition encourages students to dive deep into their own ideas. It offers a unique opportunity to develop the practical skills necessary to realize any vision.”

Below is an interview with this year’s Blue Ocean Student Entrepreneur Pitch Competition second place winner, Dumplings. This student pitched the idea of a minimalistic, crowd-sourcing app that gives people the opportunity to share bite-sized personal stories anonymously and effortlessly. Hopefully this pitch inspires others to compete and offer solutions to social issues of our time.

Why did you enter the contest? What did you hope to accomplish or learn?

As a developer, I often focus purely on the logic and design aspects of the applications I write. However, presentation and business strategy are also crucial when it comes to creating a viable product, and the Blue Ocean Competition offered a chance to apply those skills. I hoped entering the competition would help me solidify my goals so that I would be developing with an end objective in mind, instead of coding for the sake of coding itself.

Why this contest and not another one?

I think the Blue Ocean Competition is unique in that it focuses on a specific business strategy: creating new market space and demand in order to make competition irrelevant. This concept was appealing to me, given that the app market is highly competitive and it’s often difficult to rise above the existing big players. The Blue Ocean Competition is also open-ended in terms of submissions, which allows for creative freedom.

How did you learn about the contest?

I read about it in an online article.

How did you pick your topic? Why did you choose this topic?

An essay prompt in my English class this year had to do with how literature shows you that your individual voice creates harmony with the voices of others around you. This made me think of stories, which are a beautiful means of self-expression. Although the prompt referred to more formal, traditional literature, I started wondering how personal stories related by everyday people might also play into the idea of universalizing the human experience. If a common platform existed for users to share stories and learn from others’, people would be able to see quite clearly that they do not exist in isolation, but rather live in a connected world filled with other people who endure similar struggles. The mobile device is a tool designed with the very purpose of connecting people, and as I love app development, Dumplings seemed like an ideal solution to build.

How much time did you spend creating your pitch?

I started working on it maybe a week before the deadline (and stayed up till an ungodly hour the night before). I spent most of my time working on the app itself.

What was hard?

It was challenging to limit my pitch to only five minutes. There was a lot of information I wanted to convey and I also wanted to provide a more comprehensive app demo, but the imposed time limit required me to get straight to the point.

What was easy?

It was enjoyable coming up with the UI for the app. Having fun doing what you’re doing makes the work a lot easier.

Did your school or teacher help in any way?

I didn’t consult anyone at my school throughout the process, but I was inspired by the class discussion we had in English about the essay topic that prompted the idea behind Dumplings. And I’m grateful to my English teacher for initially posing the prompt.

Was there value to your school in your entering?

Although my school has a fairly small business program, a lot of students have expressed interest in more business-related activities, so I hope that I can increase exposure to the Blue Ocean Competition at my school for next year.

What did you learn?

Of course I learned a lot about Blue Ocean Strategy, of which I had virtually no knowledge prior to the competition. I also developed research, analytical, organization, and presentation skills.

Were you familiar with the Blue Ocean concepts prior to this contest?

I have had some general entrepreneurial experience in the past (conducting competitor analysis, developing a business model, etc.) but was not familiar with Blue Ocean Strategy in particular.

What would you do differently?

I would spend less time on developing a perfect app/product and dedicate more time to creating the pitch. One big thing I’ve learned is that deliverance is just as – if not more – important than the quality of the product itself when it comes to entrepreneurship. Procrastination is also not a great idea, so I’m going to try to avoid that moving forward.

What advice do you have for future participants?

Putting yourself out there in the first place by committing to such a competition is the most significant step you’ll take. So if you’ve already decided to do that, a big congrats to you! From there, it’s just about pursuing an idea you’re passionate about. If you truly believe in the project you are working on, whether you win or lose will be irrelevant; you should simply think of the BOC as a launching pad that will help you organize your thoughts and develop your business in a timely fashion.

What will you do with your prize money?

I plan to invest the money in marketing and service costs for Dumplings so that I can get it out on the market. I may also consider putting the money towards other entrepreneurial ventures.


“The Blue Ocean Student Entrepreneur Competition encourages students to dive deep into their own ideas. It offers a unique opportunity to develop the practical skills necessary to realize any vision.”

Register for the competition and get access to the Blue Ocean Student Entrepreneurs Mini-Course. This course will teach you the fundamentals of Blue Ocean Strategy, which is the leading strategy method in the business world today. After completing the course, you will be provided with a valuable certificate showing that you are trained in Blue Ocean concepts.

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More than 2000 students took part in the 2022 competition. Check out the inspiring winning blue ocean pitches.