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Hawaii Vanilla Company Selected for Mana Up Program

January 11, 2018, 8:00 AM HST (Updated January 9, 2018, 1:06 PM)
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PC: Hawaiian Vanilla Company website

Selected as Mana Up’s first cohort, 10 businesses are already selling market-tested, value-added products and can state unequivocally that they are authentic representatives of the Hawai‘i brand.

Mana Up, a Hawai‘i product accelerator, scales Hawaiʻi-based retail and value-added food products for the global market.

Hawaiian Vanilla Company on Hawai‘i Island, founded by Jim Reddekopp and Tracy Reddekopp is one of the ten companies selected. They run a boutique vanilla farm that creates over 60 different vanilla infused products.

All the businesses selected are entwined with Hawai‘i’s agricultural sector by either growing their own crops or sourcing raw ingredients from local farms. Each company makes a premium product geared towards enticing a global audience, in part because of their roots in Hawai‘i.

“Hawai‘i’s agriculture is at a turning point,” said Dana Sato, director of asset management (O‘ahu) at Kamehameha Schools. “Over the past 30 years or so, the big monocrop producers have been shutting down operations. When this trend started, it was tough to find farmers to farm these large acreages of fields. Today, we have a mix of farmers, but we’ve seen small to mid-size farmers struggle to create economically profitable businesses. We’re thrilled to see innovative companies finding a product mix that can keep food production local, maximize use of the land, and allow farmers stable and profitable sources of income.”

“The 10 companies we selected for our first cohort represent the future of our economy by showing how a product from Hawai‘i can be a competitive advantage rather than a prohibitive cost,” said Meli James, one of three Mana Up co-founders. “This cohort has already achieved remarkable success by taking advantage of Hawai‘i’s strengths and authentically integrating Hawai‘i’s brand into their own. Yet, the deciding factor was that we see tremendous potential for each company to grow internationally because of the caliber of the product and entrepreneurs.”

The 10 were selected from 85 applicants who had enough traction in the market to earn annual revenue far surpassing Mana Up’s requirement of $100,000. The 12-week Mana Up program, beginning Jan. 17, is designed to help these companies scale for broader market expansion.

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If Mana Up is right about these products, this is only the beginning of their trajectories. The public will have the opportunity to meet the entrepreneurs and learn more about the products at Mana Up’s cohort 1 showcase on April 27 in Honolulu. Registration is now open atmanauphawaii.com.

The first Mana Up cohort also includes:

Hawaiian Pie Company (O‘ahu)
Founder: Jan Hori and Joel Hori
A family owned bakery in Honolulu, Hawaii that specializes in melt-in-your-mouth buttery fruit pies and baked goods.

Hawaiian Rainbow Bees (O‘ahu)
Founder: Malcolm Yorkston and Mitsuko Yorkston
A small family owned and operated company, focused on producing a local, unprocessed, healthy Hawaiian honey. Many of their bees are located on organic farms and serve as important pollinators at these locations.

Kunoa Cattle Company (O‘ahu)
Founder: Jack Beuttell and Bobby Farias
Sustainable, locally sourced beef from around the islands and beef bars, a healthy, portable snack for an active lifestyle.

Mamalani (O‘ahu)
Founder: Mele Kalama-Kingma
An Aloha-centered, Native Hawaiian-made natural body product company using local and organic ingredients in ‘āina friendly packaging. Go Native is Mamalani’s Natural Health and Beauty Subscription box featuring crafters, artisans and farmers from Hawai‘i.

Monkeypod Jam (Kaua‘i)
Founder: Aletha Thomas
From a farmer’s market table to what is now a storefront on Kauai’s South Shore, low sugar, commercial pectin free, fruit preserves highlighting fruit grown 100% on Kauai.

Manoa Chocolate (O‘ahu)
Founder: Dylan Butterbaugh
A bean-to-bar chocolate factory. Through direct trade of single origin cacao from around the world and across the Hawaiian Islands, Manoa’s goal is to showcase the unique qualities of each source region.

Manulele Distillers (O‘ahu)
Founder: Jason Brand and Robert Dawson
A farm to bottle, small batch Hawaiian agricole rum. All rums are first hand harvested and pressed to juice before the heirloom canes are distilled to perfection.

The Tea Chest (O‘ahu)
Founder: Byron Goo
A tea company with a passion is for refined taste and a distinct sense of place. Its mission is to craft products that taste great and make people happy using natural, organic and sustainable ingredients so products are “good for you and good for the planet.”

Voyaging Foods (O‘ahu)
Founder: Brynn Foster
Bridging Hawaiian ancestral food and the modern healthy diet by growing and manufacturing gluten and grain free powders from native Hawaiian canoe plants, the treasured heirloom plants of Polynesia.

About Mana Up

Mana Up is an initiative to build Hawai’i’s next 100 product companies earning $1 million or more in annual revenue. Mana Up has a 12-week accelerator program offered biannually to enable Hawai’i product entrepreneurs to scale their businesses. Mana Up’s title partner is Kamehameha Schools, its exclusive airline partner is Hawaiian Airlines, joined by partners Ulupono Initiative, American Savings Bank, Castle & Cooke/Dole Plantation, Hawaii Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) and INNOVATE Hawaii. For more information, visit manauphawaii.com.

About Cohort 1 and the Applicant Pool

In cohort one, six of the 10 companies have female owner-operators; six companies are Native Hawaiian-owned. Of the 85 applicants, 51% were retail, 44 percent were food and five percent beauty. The majority, 70%, was based on O‘ahu, followed by the Big Island at 14%, Maui at 9%t and Kaua‘i at 7%. Women represented 55% of the applicant pool. Seventy-three percent had one to five employees, 17% had 10 or more, seven% had six to 10 and 4% had no employees. Forty-one percent have revenues up to $100,000, 36% up to $500,000 and 22% have revenues exceeding $500,000. Applicants listed distribution and ecommerce as the leading reasons for their interest in Mana Up.

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