An Interview With Our 2020 Third Place Winner, Fision Lens

Eva Tuecke, Krisha Patel, Emily Shao – 2021

Illinois Mathematics and Science – Aurora, Illinois

“The Blue Ocean Competition was an amazing opportunity to learn about the truly inspiring products and services being developed by students all around the world, while also learning practical skills we could apply to our own business venture.”

Below is an interview with the Blue Ocean Student Entrepreneur Pitch Competition third-place winner for 2020. These three students pitched the idea of creating a lens that can apply to existing glasses to save people thousands of dollars in replacements. Hopefully this pitch inspires other students to compete and offer solutions to current problems.

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

As student entrepreneurs, we recognize the importance of getting feedback on our ideas and our business as frequently as possible, so we can improve it and tailor it to our customer’s needs. We entered this contest hoping to learn more about how we could improve our own idea and to receive feedback from experts in the industry, but also to learn from seeing other students pitch their products and services. Going through the Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition definitely helped us to get these new insights and to reflect on how we can make our product successful.

How did you learn about the competition?

We learned about the Blue Ocean Competition from the Internet, as it came up as one of the largest virtual entrepreneurship competitions for high school students.

Why this contest and not another one? What appealed to you about this competition?

Over the last year-and-a-half, we’ve entered many different pitch competitions — both virtual and in-person — to get feedback on our idea and to have opportunities to win seed money. However, the Blue Ocean Competition really stood out to us because it was the “the most prestigious virtual high school entrepreneurship competition in the world and it was student-led.” Our school, the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, puts a great deal of emphasis on student leadership and development. Almost all of the student clubs, organizations, and affairs are student-led and student-run on campus. For this reason, the Blue Ocean Competition was very appealing to us because it was a student-run contest.

How or why did you pick your topic?

As three students who wear both glasses and contacts, the high costs of updating glasses is a problem we all have a great deal of experience with. We wanted to focus on a topic that would help to address this issue.

Is this a real business that you plan on pursuing?

Yes, it is — we all plan to pursue Fision Lens as a real business moving forward, both because of our own personal investment in this idea and because of the positive feedback we’ve received from mentors, competition judges, and other individuals we’ve talked to about our idea. We hope to use our product to create a more affordable path to update glasses prescription, both for commercial use and to help people in developing countries who cannot access affordable or adequate eye-care.

Do you plan on being an entrepreneur?

It’s definitely one of the career paths that we are interested in. As individuals, we are interested in fields ranging from medicine to computer science, but hope to launch start-ups that address issues within our respective fields. We’ve learned a great deal throughout our experience with entrepreneurship in high school, and hope to apply that knowledge later in life.

What were your favorite learnings from the Blue Ocean concepts (if any)?

We really enjoyed learning about the Four Actions Framework and understanding the industry we are entering. This helped us establish the unique value proposition of our product and how it fit in with the existing market.

How will you use the fact that you won?

We hope that having won this competition will provide us with traction as we continue to pursue our idea going forwards, and that we can leverage connections from this competition to do the same.

How much time did you spend creating your pitch?

In general, we spend a fair amount of time over the course of several weeks working on writing our pitch, preparing our slides, practicing our delivery, and filming it (in the case of virtual submissions). We really enjoy the process of creating our pitch and finding the best way to explain our idea in a short time frame.

What was hard?

As co-founders of a startup in high school, one of our greatest challenges has always been acquiring the necessary funds and securing the required resources to further our prototyping process. We have been exceedingly fortunate in having great mentors to advise us in developing our business in terms of marketing, strategy, and pitching, but it has been much harder to get access to the machinery and materials required to actually develop our product. For the Fision Lens in particular, this means securing the funding we need to experiment with different plastics, adhesives, and manufacturing techniques, which has so far proven to be one of our greatest challenges. However, we plan to use the funding from the Blue Ocean Competition to accomplish these things.

What was easy?

One of the easier parts for us has been pitching our product, because we feel like it is a unique concept that has a lot of market potential and the ability to make a large impact. These qualities have loaned themselves well to pitching our idea in various contests and gaining traction.

Did you find the fact that this is a virtual and global competition appealing?

Yes, both of these factors were very appealing. The virtual submission format was particularly helpful given the current circumstance of COVID-19, and we really enjoyed looking at the other competitors on the Blue Ocean YouTube page, since there were teams from all over the world pitching their products.

Did your school or teacher encourage you or did you pursue this on your own?

At the beginning of last year, we began participating in an entrepreneurship program called TALENT at our school, the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, where we are currently juniors. With support from the school and TALENT, we were encouraged to pursue the idea. Since then, we have been working independently to acquire funding, resources, and connections through competitions like the Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition.

Was there value to your school in your entering and/or winning?

We believe that having won this competition really shows the strength of our schools entrepreneurship program and the foundational skills that they taught us. We hope that future students at our school will engage with the entrepreneurship program there and with the Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition as well.

What did you learn?

Throughout this process, we’ve learned a great deal about what it takes to create a product and launch a start-up. This has included learning about the industry we are trying to break into, as well as how we can change our product to best fit our target market. Similarly, we’ve learned a great deal about how to pitch an idea, such that the most information is conveyed in a short period of time.

What will you do with your winnings?

We plan to spend our winnings on the materials that we will need to continue advancing our prototyping efforts.

What would you do differently?

We would have done more market validation and prototyping earlier on in the process, as well as trying to find experts to work with from the beginning. We think this would have helped us to understand our business model better from the start, as well as helping us write a better and more informed pitch for our product.

What advice do you have for future participants?

One of our mentors once told us: “Sell the problem you are trying to solve, and the idea will sell itself.” For our product in particular, it really helped us to identify our target market and determine what we wanted our product to do by first understanding what the problems are in the existing industry.


“The Blue Ocean Competition was an amazing opportunity to learn about the truly inspiring products and services being developed by students all around the world, while also learning practical skills we could apply to our own business venture.”

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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