More than $30k awarded to kickstart student-led businesses

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two students sitting on a bench

Twenty two students from eight teams jump-started their innovative ideas and graduated from the six-week University of Hawaiʻi 2020 Summer Startup Launchpad. Cultivated business ideas include a false eyelash subscription service and an online marketplace for fishermen and consumers.

Presented by the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) at the Shidler College of Business, and sponsored by the Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation, the launchpad was delivered online for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launchpad process

students on a zoom call

The 22 students represented four UH campuses, a wide array of disciplines from business to kinesiology, and all levels of study from undergraduate to doctoral candidates. Each team worked with a dedicated business mentor who coached them through the lean startup process and advised them during customer validation and business model development.

The intensive program challenged the students to interview 100 customers to review their product or service, and to identify potential customer segments. Many teams adjusted their ideas and solutions based on their interview findings. At the end of the program on July 10, each team made a 7-minute presentation to a panel of entrepreneurship and innovation experts, and received critical feedback about their findings and business models.

Each team was awarded $4,000 to use as seed capital to kickstart their business and one team was awarded an additional $1,000 “Most Likely to Orbit” award, based on the founders’ progress during the program. PACE offers the program at no charge through a generous donation from the Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation.

“The hands-on experience from the launchpad has provided me with knowledge I would not have received elsewhere,” said Amber Burgos, a participant and UH Mānoa business student.

“Entrepreneurship is hard. We are extremely proud of these teams for putting in the work,” PACE Executive Director Peter Rowan said. “Customer interviews are never easy but help validate the proposed business model. This is just the beginning for most of these new ventures. Hawaiʻi needs these entrepreneurs now more than ever and we hope to continue supporting them on their startup journey through other PACE programs.”

New ventures

  • HI Joe—a coffee retailer that markets Hawaiʻi-sourced products and supports entrepreneurship training
  • JP4—an online program that teaches human anatomy
  • Kūlia Lashes—a false eyelash subscription box service, recipient of the “Most Likely to Orbit” award
  • PlayerPlus—an online tool for athletic trainers to document treatment plans
  • Pono Potions—an all-natural, flavored syrup company that uses locally-sourced ingredients
  • Reelfresh—an online marketplace for fish consumers and fishermen
  • Shots in Time—a creative marketing agency for food and beverage businesses
  • Smart Party—an online platform for casual event planners

View a recap video on PACE’s website.

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Author: Admin