Last year, I attended a workshop at Stanford where I met the founder of the Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition, Nicholas Benavides. He did a small presentation on blue ocean strategy, which was my introduction to the concept.
Up to this point, the competition had only run on the east coast, but we thought it would be cool to bring it to the west. That’s when we decided to bring the student-run entrepreneurship competition to Silicon Valley.
I wanted to take the initiative in this project because of my prior experience in event planning and my deep interest in entrepreneurship. Also, I thought it would be a fun project to work on and an opportunity to learn more about blue ocean strategy.
A lot went into planning the event – 10 months, 630 emails, a multitude of video/phone calls, and a lot of passion.
The first step to organizing an event like this is finding the right people. In the summer of 2016, I sent out applications to all the college and career counselors in the San Francisco Bay Area who then forwarded it to their students. I interviewed many interested students to find my final team of 10 high schoolers.
Managing the team brought its own challenges. It involved delegating tasks and keeping to deadlines. I realized how important it was to set targets and goals for individuals and keep people motivated.
It involved interviewing and recruiting 10 high-schoolers, approaching companies to ask for sponsorships, finding a venue, contacting speakers, and so much more. I have finally gotten to experience the amount of work it takes to plan a large event.
I have learned so much about solving problems creatively and being spontaneous. Dealing with all sorts of people has opened my eyes, and I’ve grown as a leader in ways that I had never imagined before.
It helps you understand the concept of ‘blue oceans’ when you apply it to a real business idea. I would love to have competed myself, but as one of the organizers, it might have seemed unfair to other competitors – especially as I also arranged for the judges.
It was great to see the presentations. The best teams were well prepared, super-confident and very enthusiastic, and those that had models or prototypes of their products really got the interest and attention of the audience.
The finalists got the chance to present their ideas on stage, and the audience was able to see their passion through their amazing presentations.