Innovative ideas highlighted SBA’s 2016 InnovateHER Challenge finals on Maui

Nov 20, 2015

Pamela Norris’ ICEBUDDY Systems captures first place
KIHEI, Maui, Hawaii – November 20, 2015 – Last night’s finals for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Business Challenge proved once again that Maui is a launching pad for empowering entrepreneurs.
SBA launched this national competition in an effort to find products and services across the U.S. that help impact and empower the lives of women and families. Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) hosted the Maui competition.
Ten finalists each gave a five-minute pitch for their product/service to a panel of judges – Teri Edmonds (owner of If the Shoe Fits in Wailuku, founder of the Maui Shoe Academy, and a YouTube show host); Leslie Mullens (founder of Playbook Consulting); Chelsea Fernandez (owner of FernanTECH, Inc. and co-founder of Hawaii Assistive Technology Company); Teri Gleason (a local business owner, jewelry designer, and ceramist); and Leah Belmonte (Governor David Ige’s Maui Community Liaison and Representative).
Judges took into account criteria such as whether the product/service had a measurable improvement in the lives of women and families, potential for commercialization, and filled a need in the marketplace.
In a close competition, Pamela Norris of Wailuku was named the Maui winner. Norris won for her product, the ICEBUDDY System, a portable cooling system that utilizes new technology to transport medicine, water, and food for emergencies.
“My lifetime has been spent trying to make a positive difference in the world,” said Norris. “That journey has taken me from teaching everything from the pre-school level to post graduate, training security, and law enforcement officers and directing mental health services. Now this experience has brought me to a point where I choose to focus my talents on developing revolutionary products that meet unmet needs.
My latest venture is launching the ICEBUDDY System, a portable cooling system that enables ice, water, medication, and emergency supplies to be stored and transported easily.”
As the Maui winner, Norris took home $500 in cash from MEDB. She will also have the opportunity to be considered for SBA’s national competition which will be held in Washington D.C. on March 16 and 17, 2016 as part of a larger Women’s Summit. If selected, she will compete against other finalists nationwide and have an opportunity to pitch her idea to a panel of expert judges drawn from the private sector. Three winners will be chosen and awarded up to $70,000 in cash prizes. 1st Place will receive $40,000, 2nd Place $20,000 and 3rd Place $10,000.
“We were very impressed with the depth, thought, and passion of those who gave their pitches today,” said Frank De Rego Jr., Director of Business Development Projects at Maui Economic Development Board. “It was particularly exciting to see these empowering individuals who are focused on building their businesses and living their dreams.”
The finalists who competed in the InnovateHER 2016 Maui competition on Thursday, November 19th were:

  • Coleen d’Avignon – “Shebangz,” a do-it-yourself bangs kit for women may experience hair loss
  • Terra Foti – “RUSHwahine LLC,” an all-womens entrepreneurial community based in Hawaii and connected virtually around the globe.
  • Anna Goodreau – Treatment for post-birth healing, hemorrhoid relief, post-hemorrhoidectomy healing
  • Claire Gilbert – “Maui Innovation Group,” a web portal for a canopy care management product to allow patients and caregivers to better communication and coordinate their healthcare
  • Pamela Norris – “ICEBUDDY Systems, Inc.,” utilizes new technology to keep medication requiring refrigeration cold for three days
  • Ariana Stugard – “White Buffalo Design,” sensory-based wearables as communication and social skills aids for women and girls on the autism spectrum
  • David Taera – “Turn on the Light,” teaching positive parenting techniques through stories
  • Lin Ter Horst – “Maui Fruit Jewels,” artisan candy with health benefits
  • Anjali Trice – “The Conscious Education Project,” curriculum that compliments traditional education that empowers students to be the best they can be
  • Zoe Weston – “The Organizer,” a lifestyle organizing service

“I think SBA is on to something here and we hope they continue to grow this competition,” said Gerry Smith, MEDB Director of Business Development. “Not only will programs such as these help women break that glass ceiling in terms of business and entrepreneurship, but also will provide opportunities to help to empower women and families and ultimately help to build communities.”
The InnovateHER 2016 Challenge on Maui was hosted by MEDB. Sponsors included: SBA, the County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, and Pacific Media Group.