An Interview With Our 2021 Third Place Winner, Upcycle Insulation

Katherine Shaw, Emily Shaw – 2022

West Essex High School

‘Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition was an excellent experience for us. We learned to examine our business through the lens of competition, customers, cost, regulation, and capital efficiency during this journey.”

Below is an interview with the Blue Ocean Student Entrepreneur Pitch Competition third-place winners for 2021. These young women pitched the idea of insulation made from recycled corrugated cardboard. 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 entrepreneurs, we entered the Blue Ocean Entrepreneur Competition to gain validation for our business idea. In the process, we learned about the Blue Ocean Strategy and how to view our competitive position in the marketplace. The insight we gained has been invaluable.

How did you learn about the competition (school or teacher, Internet, recommendation from a friend…)?

We learned about the Blue Ocean Entrepreneur Competition from internet write-ups.

If you learned about this from the Internet, did you find this through Instagram, Facebook, web search…?

We did a web search on the ranking of student business competitions and learned that Blue Ocean is one of the largest entrepreneurship competitions for high school students.

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

This contest appealed to us because it is global and is judged by experienced entrepreneurs who take the time to provide valuable feedback. We have had disappointing experiences participating in contests judged by unqualified and unprofessional people.

How or why did you pick your topic?

UpCycle Insulation was born out of necessity because we were looking for ways to insulate our cold house in order to reduce heat loss and increase comfort.

Is this a real business that you plan on pursuing?

Yes, we are excited to pursue our business. This summer, we will be starting pilot manufacturing and will seek real-world installation feedback.

Do you plan on being an entrepreneur?

We are entrepreneurs. We plan to continue to find solutions to social issues through innovative thinking.

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

The strategy tools are helpful visualization models for an overview of the business.

How much time did you spend creating your pitch?

The business took over a year to research, build, and develop. The presentation took one month to create.

What was easy?

The easy part was working with each other. We are both passionate about our business idea and goal-oriented.

What was hard?

We had difficulty embedding video in our presentation, and our audio levels were lower than we would have liked. Even though making our video was time-consuming, the challenges we encountered only made us a more determined team.

Did you have fun?

Yes, absolutely! Our experience has been positive and rewarding.

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

Yes, we enjoyed the global aspect of the competition. It was exciting to see and learn about the innovative ideas that our peers from all over the world worked on.

If you worked as a team, how did you work together virtually during this interesting year?

We are twin sisters, so we’re at the same location.

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

We pursued this on our own. Our idea was something we are both passionate about, so we took the initiative to pursue it on our own.

What did you learn?

To think about our business from multiple perspectives – customer, competition, and market opportunity.

What would you do differently?


What advice do you have for future participants?

We studied pitches from big tech startups, which helped us be more professional.

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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Recent Winners

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.