Harish Kolli, Mahi Ravi, Kaitlin Tan – 2023
Westwood High School
“The Blue Ocean Strategy is a unique method that allows entrepreneurs to assess the feasibility of a concept. I would recommend this strategy to all young entrepreneurs who want to escape the competition and create new market demand.”
Below is an interview with the Blue Ocean Student Entrepreneur Pitch Competition best social pitch winner for 2021. These young people pitched the idea of an app to help prevent sexual and other crime. 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 entered the competition to perfect our concept, get funding for our startup, and learn about the blue ocean strategy and how that could enable us to be successful.
How did you learn about the competition (school or teacher, Internet, recommendation from a friend…)?
We learned about the competition through the internet.
If you learned about this from the Internet, did you find this through Instagram, Facebook, web search…?
We found this competition through a web search after searching for entrepreneurship pitch competitions where we could acquire more funding and mentorship to help accelerate our startup.
Why this contest and not another one? What appealed to you about this competition?
We were interested in the Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition specifically because it introduced the well-known Blue Ocean strategy. Unlike other competitions, it is an international competition that is going to be judged by trusted industry leaders.
How or why did you pick your topic?
We picked our topic because of the prevalence of the problem. Nearly all of our team members have experienced feeling insecure and uncomfortable in certain situations, and we wanted to find a solution to alleviate this issue. There’s no solution for such a common problem and existing solutions don’t actually target the target market’s pain points.
Is this a real business that you plan on pursuing?
Yes! We will put all the money we have raised to develop our app.
Do you plan on being an entrepreneur?
It’s definitely something our members want to pursue, whether it be a side-hustle or a full fledged startup. All of us find entrepreneurship exciting and challenging because it pushes us to reach out of our comfort zone, whether it be reaching out to experts in the field, surveying potential customers or analyzing our target audience.
What were your favorite learnings from the Blue Ocean concepts (if any)?
My favorite learning was the blue ocean strategy canvas since it allowed us to look at our startup with a new “Blue Ocean” lens. We were able to look at what our company and product offered our target market and how it compared to the rest of the competition.
How much time did you spend creating your pitch?
Our original idea was developed in July of 2020. Hence much of our pitch had been conceptualized but not yet put into action until the competition. We spent around 3-5 days creating an outline for our pitch, and 2-3 days to combine all our pitch concepts and components together. The Blue Ocean competition really inspired us to put all our plans for WithMe into action and to use the Blue Ocean strategy through it all.
What was easy?
Because the problem that our app solves is clear, defined, and well known, describing our startup and what it offered compared to market alternatives was relatively easy.
What was hard?
The hard part was thinking critically about the Blue Ocean strategy and how it could be implemented into our venture. Figuring out how we could eliminate competition and successfully create a Blue Ocean for our startup definitely required a lot of ideating and discussion amongst our team. Although it was challenging, we are glad to have done it as we have emerged with a more comprehensive plan and vision.
Did you have fun?
Of course! The entire process of working as a team and working through challenges together was definitely enjoyable and rewarding.
Did you find the fact that this is a virtual and global competition appealing?
I loved the flexibility of this competition. A video is such an effective communicator of our ideas, and we loved how versatile the online submission period was. The fact that it was a global competition really caught our eye because we were competing with the best young entrepreneurs internationally. Additionally, Blue Ocean strategy was something that intrigued us as it was a renowned concept used in the startup world but not seen in many competitions.
If you worked as a team, how did you work together virtually during this interesting year?
To be honest, none of our team members have met each other in person due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. We worked virtually over zoom, meeting weekly to assign personal tasks and motivate each other to accomplish our preset goals. Each team member was assigned a particular role in our app development (outreach, coding, and finance), thus we were effectively able to divy up the tasks.
Did your school or teacher encourage you or did you pursue this on your own?
Though our team came together in the aftermath of a startup incubator, all of us founders are self driven. From time to time we also consulted from mentors who were experts in the field and had previously ventured into the field of entrepreneurship and startup development.
What did you learn?
Aside from perfecting our existing concept and better outline the problem and solution, the biggest lesson we learned from the competition was the Blue Ocean Strategy. We were not only able to learn about what the strategy entailed, but also how we could use it in our real-world venture.
What would you do differently?
If we had the time, we would have flushed out a prototype of the app into the market to test its popularity and improve upon the negatives.
What advice do you have for future participants?
I’d say that picking a clear, well defined problem is one of the most important steps in creating a valuable product. Identifying why your solution is different from hundreds of others on the market is another crucial objective to keep in mind when brainstorming product ideas. Lastly, it’s important to survey your idea with your target market before developing the product to ensure that customers will be interested. It’s always wonderful to reach out to experts in the field of entrepreneurship for mentorship and keep getting advice from everyone around you!
Any other comments that you want to make?
Thank you for providing us high schoolers with such a wonderful opportunity to challenge our thinking and bring our ideas to life!