Lanai residents who participated in Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) “Maka Hou Lanai” on October 21-23 learned more than the nuts and bolts of starting business, they also got a boost of inspiration and validation.
A total of nine Lanai residents participated in this empowering entrepreneurial workshop held at the Lanai Senior Center. In one action-packed weekend, participants presented 60-second open-mic pitches for their business ideas, formed teams around the top-voted startup ideas, worked with team members with the help of collaborators to build viable prototypes and business models, and then presented to a panel of judges on Saturday.
At the end of the workshop, Neal Cabanting was named the winner for his startup idea, a barber shop called “Crown Cutz.” Joined by his team members Christian Cramer, Shane Tajima, and Runno Alliviki during their final presentation, Cabanting demonstrated a haircut, shared validations collected from the community, financial projections, and even shared appointments booked for the following week. The winning team was awarded a prize package that included business coaching from Beth Holiday of Hawaii Business Training and brand consulting from Erik Blair of The Accidental Consultant.
Other teams who worked on startup concepts were “Tiki Tails,” an eco-plush toy to complement existing children’s books (led by artist Judi Riley); “April in Paris,” a residential senior care home (led by retired nurse Pat Palumbo); and “AinaKine,” an organic fertilizer to neutralize the Lanai acidic soil (led by student Taj Sunio).
“The weekend experience was good because I didn’t know that there were people coming over from Maui and help us build our business,” said Cabanting. “It was nice to have that support, especially the guys in our team – they helped me a lot. I will definitely keep in touch with my team mates and when I do open a shop they are welcome to come and get their hair cut.”
“I thought the weekend was awesome,” said Pat Palumbo. “I learned things about starting a business. I learned things about myself … After this weekend I’d like to take Maui Economic Opportunity’s Core Four Business program, I want to look at possible locations for a care home, find out what foundations can help us, see who can assist us with funds and expertise; consider staff and a board of directors, and possibly visit other care centers. It’s a good start.”
“The nerve wracking part for me was the presentations, but I met three remarkable individuals on my team who gave me infinite ideas,” said Judi Riley. “Sum up the weekend in one word, ‘brilliant. “The biggest surprise of the weekend was the validation of my business idea. This experience exceeded my expectations.”
“I was very interested and intrigued by the process that we went through,” said Taj Sunio. “ The biggest surprise was the validation we received for our startup concept.”
Bradley Bunn, Chairman of Lanai Chamber of Commerce, thanked MEDB and all the supporters and volunteers for making the weekend possible. “What a wonderful event and what a great start, a new beginning for Lanai businesses. I look forward to working together and to many more events to come.”
The event was facilitated by Bryan Butteling, Associate Product Manager at TeamPraxis. Judges were: Omar Sultan (Co-Founder of Sultan Ventures); Colleen O’Shea Brady (Founder and CEO of Identity Wise, Inc. and Express Facility, Inc.); and Rebecca Filipovic, (intellectual property lawyer at McKeon Sheldon Mehling, LLC). Collaborators from Maui were: David Pickett (Software Engineer and Consultant), Doug Nelson (Kinection), Mitzi Toro (The Maui Cookie Lady), Peter Liu (MAPA), Shane Tajima (Meyer Computer), Edde Kanai (The Boeing Company), Conan Crawford (Afixia), and Runno Alliviki (Arboritech USA).
Maka Hou Lanai was presented by Maui Economic Development Board. Event sponsors were County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Kaiser Permanente, Lanai Chamber of Commerce and `ike.