An Interview With Blue Ocean 2018-2019 Competition European Participant, IllionAir

Sarah Kirstine Nielsen – 2020

Jonathan Skov Nielsen – 2020

Laura Gam – 2020

Herningsholm Secondary School – Denmark

Below is an interview with this year’s Blue Ocean Student Entrepreneur Pitch Competition European competitor, IllionAir. These three students pitched the idea of a pacifier for children 0-3 years old that can reduce or eliminate harmful air pollution. And, while this team did not finish in the top 3, it caught our attention and was one of our favorites. 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?

We entered Blue Ocean competition because we wanted to show our idea and get professional feedback for our idea. We wanted to move forward and continue to develop our prototype. Before we entered the competition, we hoped that the idea was valuable to others. And also, because it was important to know that others thought our idea was as good as we did.

Why this contest and not another one?

We chose this competition because we believed that we had found the greatest Blue Ocean idea. We couldn’t wait to get feedback from the judges, hear what they thought and see whether we could progress to the next rounds.

How did you learn about the contest?

We heard about the competition from one of the best and most inspiring teachers, Henrik Stenum Graversen, who sent us the link just five days before the deadline. The deadline kept us motivated, so it was not a problem to get the video completed on time.

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

We chose the topic of air pollution, because of the magnitude and impact of it. This captured our interest from the start. We realized that there was a huge need for a product that could purify the smog for children. We then began the research and came up with a solution and entered it into the competition.

How much time did you spend creating your pitch?

As mentioned, we only had five days to create the video. Therefore, we spent every single hour working on completing the pitch. This also taught us the importance of teamwork.

What was hard?

The waiting… It was hard to wait for the result from each round. We wanted to tell the judges more about how fantastic our idea was.

What was easy?

Honestly, we don’t think that anything was easy. The moment all the videos were uploaded, we were intrigued by all of the great ideas from other students. From that moment, we could only hope that our idea was good enough, which turned out, it was.

Did your school help in any way?

We did get valuable coaching from our teacher on the pitch, the video, and the next steps.

What did you learn?

We learned a lot by participating in the competition. We learned to improve the teamwork, work under pressure and develop ideas. We were so happy about the feedback we got from Ted Dacko, the Executive Director and Renée Mauborgne herself  the co-author of the Blue Ocean Sift and Strategy books. We understand that, while she was not a judge, she did review some of the pitches and offered praise for what we did.

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

The short answer must be “no”, but we do now. We will use it going forward.

What would you do differently?

If we got a chance to recreate the video, we would choose to focus more on the judging criteria, since your score is the most important in the competition. You need to look at the published rubric and also make sure that the message, the idea, and the pitch are easy and clear and simple to understand.

What advice do you have for future participants?

Our advice to future participants would be: to think about everything you do. It is a competition and even the smallest detail may be the one that makes the difference between winning or losing. “Inch by Inch” We were inspired by the following video:

The Idea that you have might be the greatest idea of all time. But, unless you are careful, the path you choose for that idea might lead to a dead end.

Quote: “Inch by Inch!”

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 2500 students took part in the 2022 competition. Check out the inspiring winning blue ocean pitches.

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