Startup Weekend Maui offered “a 54-hour entrepreneurial adrenaline rush”

May 16, 2016

KIHEI, Maui, Hawaii – May 16, 2016 – “Life-changing,” “motivating,” and “awesome” was just some of the feedback received from participants at this year’s Startup Weekend Maui, presented by Maui Economic Development Board.
Held on May 13-15 at the MEDB Malcolm Center and the Maui Research and Technology Center in Kihei, nearly 80 residents participated in this empowering event for entrepreneurs.
The event kicked off on Friday with 60-second open mic pitches. Then, teams were formed around the top-voted startup ideas and worked through the weekend with the help of mentors and coaches to build viable prototypes and business models which they presented to a panel of judges on Sunday night.
Startup Weekend is a 54-hour entrepreneurial adrenaline rush that will teach anyone who is willing to learn the skills necessary to build a business startup from the ground up,” said Frank De Rego Jr., Director of Business Development Projects at Maui Economic Development Board. “In 54 hours participants will discover or, in some cases rediscover, the passion and drive it takes to take an idea and turn it into a road map that offers customers something of value, builds a solid business infrastructure, and ensures financial viability and prosperity.”

Startup ideas that were presented during the finale on Sunday were:
Catalyst – The world’s first true Social Challenge Platform created specifically to maximize the reach and participation of fundraising, awareness, political, or promotional campaigns through the power of highly social, fun, and engaging team challenges.  Team members: Sebastien Le Tuan (pitched original idea), Conan Crawford, Skye Kelly, Amrita Pullur, David Johnston
 Cherrypik – A website for lead-generation services and protection in the moving industry.  Team members: Olaf Sutor (pitched original idea), Christine Drogowski, Delphine Berbigier, Laurent Zahn, Joe Baranowski
mPowered – A service company providing installation of energy saving devices. They would facilitate lowering of homeowners’ power bills by optimizing energy consumption.  Team members: Jen McDonald (pitched original idea), Melissa Ribillia, Peter H. Rosen, Garrett Guynn, Dr. Madhup Joshi
 Maui Buzz Kill – A natural anti-mosquito perfume (for women) and cologne (for men).  Team members: Zoe Whitney (pitched original idea), Dawn Naiwi-Valentino
 Team Adventures – Adventure games for team building, training and more. Using a platform that many companies are already using for communication called “Slack,” they would deliver games to help people to bond more with their project team mates.  Team members: Jon Brown (pitched original idea), Shane Tajima, David Pickett, Marc Levine, Tommy Howard
The Original FaceGuard – Trendy and fun anti-microbial facemask for travelers. Their goal is to destigmatize the traditional medical mask by creating a positive, preventative public health intervention through trendy face apparel.  Team members: Danielle Travis and Molly Palmer (original pitchers), Lorayne Lipps, Austin Kozaki, Julie Lewis

Presentations were judged by criteria that included customer validation, business model and execution.

The Original FaceGuard, an idea originally pitched by Danielle Travis and Molly Palmer captured first place.  “It’s not just a product, we want to change people’s perceptions of the typical facemask that most think is so scary,” said Danielle Travis, one of the original pitchers of the winning startup idea. “It’s very exciting to see people’s reactions to what we’ve come up with. I’ve always wanted to do creative things, and this (product) is kind of my outlet. It has a creative aspect, there’s a health aspect, and positivity, making people laugh, there’s so many aspects to this facemask.”
The first place team will receive a business assistance prize package valued at more than $3,000 that includes one pass to Maui Economic Opportunity’s Core 4 Business Planning workshop, two hours of branding and design consultation from Sae Design, three hours of legal advice from McKeon Sheldon Mehling, one Maui Chamber of Commerce one-year membership, a one-day rental of MEDB’s Malcolm Center in Kihei, two hours of digital branding consultation by The Accidental Consultant, design of a rack card or business card by Linn Nishikawa & Associates, printing of 1,000 rack cards or business cards from Maui Printing Company, and a $150 gift card to OfficeMax.
The team of Zoe Whitney and Dawn Naiwi-Valentino captured second place for their natural anti-mosquito perfume and cologne.  Whitney, a Maui High School senior, first introduced her natural anti-mosquito product at the Hawaii STEM Conference earlier this month and captured first place along with her school teammate Allyza Sayno in the On-Site Design Pitch Competition.

Participating in Startup Weekend, Whitney further validated her product concept. “During the weekend, I got a better feel for my target market and was able to test the product on both locals and visitors of different ages. Working together with my Startup Weekend teammate, Dawn Naiwi-Valentino, we worked hard to gather public feedback and even came up with ideas to modify the product’s ingredients. This overall experience helped me realize that this product could work.”
The Catalyst team captured third place. According to Sebastien Le Tuan, who pitched the original idea, this Social Challenge Platform supports fundraising, awareness, political, or promotional campaigns through highly social, fun, and engaging team challenges.
Those who were a part of this year’s Startup Weekend Maui saw tremendous value in participating.

According to first-time Startup Weekend participant, Peter H. Rosen, “The idea that a group of strangers can find ways to work with each other and capitalize on each others talents, creativity, and skills is probably the best thing I’ve gotten from this experience. I think it’s amazing that we could work so quickly as a complimentary group after knowing each other within moments.”
“You feel super energized and the momentum and team drive inspired me to work hard to help bring a startup idea to life during the weekend,” said Melissa Ribillia of Kahului. “Best of all, I learned a lot about how to create a startup – valuable information I can use for when I pursue my own startup business of a gluten-free bakery.”
“Our company has been involved in every Startup Weekend in Hawaii since the beginning, because we think it’s a great entry point for local entrepreneurs trying to get a flavor as to what it takes to create a business,” said Omar Sultan, Managing Partner at Sultan

Ventures and one of this year’s judges. “During these events, all ideas are welcome, doesn’t matter whether it’s a big idea, small idea, main street business, food product, or a rocket scientist wanting to pitch their idea for a roving satellite. What’s important is learning what goes into creating a startup.”
“Startup Weekend Maui fits perfectly with what we’re trying to do at the County of Maui,” said Teena Rasmussen, Director of the County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development who served as one of this year’s coaches. “We’re focused on building an entire entrepreneur eco-system throughout the county. Our hope is that by offering business development workshops, technical assistance, and sponsoring events such as Startup Weekend Maui; we can continue to help our local entrepreneurs gain the edge to help them succeed.”
“During the weekend, the tremendous energy and focus of these entrepreneurs was evident as they focused on one goal – to create a successful business startup” said De Rego, Jr. “The entrepreneurs were there because they wanted to learn how to create a startup from idea to implementation. The coaches, mentors, and judges were there to offer guidance and advice because they understand that the future economic prosperity of our community is rooted in dedicated individuals willing to innovate and take risks. MEDB and all of our event sponsors helped make this event possible because we believe in investing in our local community and the skills of our people. It all added up to one incredible weekend where everyone emerged a winner.”
Startup Weekend Maui was presented by the Maui Economic Development Board.

2016 event sponsors and supporters were:
Event sponsors:
County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development
High Technology Development Corporation
High Strategic Development Corporation
HI-Growth Initiative
Startup Capital Ventures
Blue Startups
Sultan Ventures
Pacific Media Group

Carolee Higashino – Owner, A White Orchid Wedding
Gunars Valkirs – Owner, Maui Ku`ia Estate Chocolate
Michael Pfeffer – CEO, Ibis Networks
Murray Clay – Managing Partner, Ulupono Initiative
Omar Sultan – Managing Partner, Sultan Ventures

Coaches and mentors:
Beth Holiday – CEO, Inner Dynamics Inc. and Hawaii Business Training
Teena Rasmussen – Director, County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development
Chris Speere – Site Coordinator, UH Maui College’s Maui Food Innovation Center
Doug Nelson – Entrepreneur, producer, designer and publisher
Erik Blair – Owner, The Accidental Consultant
Keri Mehling – Attorney & Partner, McKeon Sheldon Mehling
Meli James – President, Hawaii Venture Capital Association
Peter Liu – Director of Marketing, Maui Academy of Performing Arts
Rebecca Filipovic – Attorney, McKeon Sheldon Mehling
Refugio Gonzales – Instructor, ABIT Program, UH Maui College
David Fry – Technology Consultant and Founder of Tanuki Interactive
Kevin Yoshida – VP and Community Banking Region Manager, Neighbor Island Region,
Central Pacific Bank
Event facilitator:
Bryan Butteling – Associate Product Manager, TeamPraxis

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs of various skill sets who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 2,900 past events in 150 countries around the world.

For more information on Startup Weekend Maui, visit or call Gerry Smith at MEDB at (808) 270-6803. Connect with Facebook.