Ethan Dunn and Patrick Ho – 2023
Taipei American School School
“We’ve learned to be true in nearly every aspect of life, that is that things will go wrong. That perfect idea of how things are going to play out is never realistic, problems always come up and you have to be flexible enough to think on your feet and come up with a solution. That is exactly why you also need the motivation to stick it out when the going gets tough. When you run into problems with experimentation, design, or editing, your passion for the project and drive to keep going are what are going to help you make it through. Once you realize that, nothing can stop you.”
Below is an interview with the Blue Ocean Student Entrepreneur Pitch Competition first-place winner for 2022. These two young men pitched the idea of a way to convert any blood type to a safe Type O. 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?
We conducted research at our school and saw a great opportunity for a product. This combined with the ability for our product to save thousands if not millions of lives made it clear, this was not an opportunity we were going to pass up. Blue Ocean gave us the ability to both put together a solid marketing approach and business strategy, while also giving us the tools we need to address our company’s weaknesses. We hoped to learn how to best market our product to the public and hopefully raise funds in the process.
How did you learn about the competition?
We learned about the competition through the internet. We did a web search
Why this contest and not another one? What appealed to you about this competition?
When looking around at different competitions, Blue Ocean stood out to us because of its focus on business and pitching a company. As a group who had an idea but weren’t sure how to take it to market, Blue Ocean presented the perfect opportunity to learn as we developed our submission. We also loved how the medium of a five-minute video could allow us to carefully explain our company in a visual way, as seen by our animations. This combined with the clear path and instructions on the website made Blue Ocean the obvious choice.
How or why did you pick your topic?
We had conducted extensive research in the past about our topic and realized the potential it had for an amazing business. For us the main problem was not coming up with the base idea, it was how to take that idea to a real business and working through the different problems as they came up.
Is this a real business that you plan on pursuing?
Yes, we are actually currently working with a patent attorney and hope to file a patent in the coming month.
Do you plan on being an entrepreneur?
Yes, we both plan on pursuing entrepreneurship in the future. One of us plans to continue developing ideas through scientific research and taking those ideas to market, while the other plans to work more on the business side of things. We are sure the Blue Ocean Competition and its concepts will be helpful for us in the long run as we learn to develop business plans and strategies.
What were your favorite learnings from the Blue Ocean concepts?
Our favorite Blue Ocean Concept is the Buyer Utility Map. It was the first concept we tried to work on, and it gave us the groundwork for the market research of the product. We discovered the highlights and flaws in the healthcare industry. Later on, when we put our product in the picture, we see how it was able to improve some aspects and fix some flaws, which gave our product more competency.
How much time did you spend creating your pitch?
We spent around 3 weeks gathering our research, editing the video, and recording our parts.
What was easy?
While the competition certainly wasn’t “easy”, it was extremely fun. Our passion for our idea made it easy to work on the project and I know both of us got out of bed ready for the next development. With that passion, nearly every aspect of the project was “easy” in a sense.
What was hard?
The hard part about the entire project was to cover the entire idea into 5 minutes. We wanted to give a detailed description of the product without spending too much time on it as we have to focus on the market research as well. Finding that balance between the two was the challenging part to perfect.
Did you have fun?
Yes, we found the recording part especially fun as we struggled with writing the script that was not wordy or hard to understand. We treated the quality of our product and video equally important.
Did you find the fact that this is a virtual and global competition appealing?
Because we live in Taiwan, the competition being virtual allows us to participate. We are grateful for this opportunity to help promote ideas from a diversity of backgrounds.
Did your school or teacher encourage you or did you pursue this on your own?
We pursued this on our own.
What did you learn?
There were a lot of things we learned from this competition. The most important lesson we learned was the pitch itself. People are not going to be interested in your product if you are not interested in it in the first place. Passion and motivation really comes into play when it comes to presenting and pitching. Even if you have a great idea, the quality of your presentation is what ultimately gets people to listen.
What would you do differently?
I would have started earlier, plain and simple. I completely underestimated the time it would take to create the video. From hours upon hours creating animations to making sure the video could be understood by someone with only a basic understanding of science, everything took longer than expected. While many of us are procrastinators I’m sure, it really isn’t the best policy. Yet somehow no matter how many times we’re told this, there we are staying up until the crack of dawn working. I guess sometimes you have to get burnt before you realize the oven is hot.
What advice do you have for future participants?
My main piece of advice comes from something I’ve learned to be true in nearly every aspect of life, that is that things will go wrong. That perfect idea of how things are going to play out is never realistic, problems always come up and you have to be flexible enough to think on your feet and come up with a solution. That is exactly why you also need the motivation to stick it out when the going gets tough. When you run into problems with experimentation, design, or editing, your passion for the project and drive to keep going are what are going to help you make it through. Once you realize that, nothing can stop you.
We just wanted to say thank you to everyone who made this competition possible and to thank you for this wonderful opportunity.
I hope that everyone can give the Blue Ocean Competition a shot! This is a unique opportunity for you to interact with like-minded students across the globe. The soft skills and entrepreneurship concepts you learn from this competition will be a significant asset to you. Your pitch does not have to be a scientific breakthrough, come and share something that you are passionate about! -Jessica