Entrepreneurs Launch $25,000 HIplan Competition

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Two long-time Hawai‘i Island businessmen are aiming to give prospective entrepreneurs a serious jump start.

World-renowned aquaculture expert Dr. Jim Wyban and Kelly Moran, president and founder of Hilo Brokers, are co-chairing the upcoming HIplan competition, which will be co-hosted by the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce in the fall.

At stake is a total of $25,000 in seed money from a variety of sponsors, including the Natural Energy Lab, the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce and the Ulupono Initiative.

The launch event will be held on at the Wainaku Executive Center on Thursday, July 21, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.


Speakers will include Jeff Melrose of UH-Hilo, who will present “Hawai‘i Island Resources.”

Also speaking will be Murray Clay, managing partner of the Ulupono Initiative, who will present “Impact Investing in Hawai‘i.”

The event will also include “elevator pitches” by early HIplan entrants, pūpū and a cash bar.

Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce members pay $10; non-members and guests pay $15 at the door.

The Wainaku Executive Center is located at 26-238 Hawa‘i Belt Road in Hilo.



The business plan competition is open to any individual or group (for-profit or nonprofit) whose business plan focuses on developing a startup or expansion of a business based on Hawai‘i Island.

“As long as it’s Big Island-based, it qualifies,” explained Moran, a 30-year real estate veteran, who has overseen more than $500 million worth of transactions in his career. “There’s so much talent out there, and this is a great opportunity to fast-forward someone’s killer concept.”

But the purpose of the competition goes beyond jump-starting a lone entrepreneur or co-op. Both men are confident that by encouraging budding businesses to put their best ideas forward, a better entrepreneurial ecosystem can be built on the Big Island to create new and improved jobs for the island’s young people—including UH Hilo grads.

“Good ideas can’t thrive in isolation,” said Dr. Wyban. It takes peers, mentors and even competitors to push a venture to its full potential.”


Dr. Wyban speaks from experience. An aquaculture pioneer, he helped to develop pathogen-free shrimp varieties that helped to quadruple global production before selling his Big Island company technology to a multinational corporation.

Plan entries are now being accepted now. The entry fee for the competition is $100

Entrants must submit a written business plan based on HIplan’s outline by Sept. 1.

In addition to the $25,000 in seed money, the first-place winner will also be interviewed on KBIG’s Wake Up & Drive Show, based in Los Angeles, Calif.

Finals will be held Nov. 6 at UH Hilo.

For more information about the competition, and to download entry forms and the business plan outline, visit or Or call (808) 938-2840.

The co-chairs have chosen Pacific Media Group the HIplan’s official media sponsor.

The business plan competition will be administered by the HICC. The competition is well aligned with HICC’s mission to develop and expand business on Hawai‘i Island. HIplan will be a sub-committee of HICC’s Economic Development Committee; its chair will serve as a member of the HIplan organizing committee.


Prospective participants can learn how to develop a business plan or revise an existing plan at a Hawai‘i Small Business Development Center workshop on June 29, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at Kuakini Tower, 75-5722 Kuakini Highway, Ste. 216, in Kailua Kona.

Step‐by‐step instructions will include a section on business plan financials.
The workshop fee is $20. Register at For more information, call 327-3680.

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