Ono Queens Wins $25K in HIplan Competition
Ono Queens of Pāhoa won $25,000 in HIplan’s business plan competition on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016.
HIplan, a local hui organized to help Hawai‘i Island entrepreneurs develop and implement successful business plans, presented the award.
The prize money will support Ono Queens growth. Ono Queens is owned and operated by third-generation beekeeper Chris Klepps and his wife, Wendy, whose business plan focused on producing top-quality queens and selling them to beekeepers on the Mainland.
“There is a never-ending demand for new queen bees,” said Chris.
The HIplan competition began in September with 49 business owners submitting draft plans. In October, after quarter- and semi-final rounds of judging, eight of them were named finalists. Those eight were required to submit a polished business plan, make a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation based on it, and deliver a two-minute oral summary – a so-called “elevator pitch” – all typical of what entrepreneurs have to do when seeking venture capital. Each of these components was scored numerically by the judges, and Ono Queens garnered the highest total points. The judges in this final round were
In October, quarterfinal and semifinal judging rounds reduced the number to eight finalists. Those eight were required to submit a polished business plan, make a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation based on it, and deliver a two-minute oral summary—a so-called “elevator pitch”— all typical of what entrepreneurs have to do when seeking venture capital.
The judges scored each of these components; Ono Queens tallied the highest number total points.
The judges in this final round were Murray Clay, managing partner of the Ulupono Initiative; Jared Kushi, program director of Blue Startups; Howard Dicus, TV and radio business news reporter; and Chuck Erskine, Hilo-based vice president of First Hawaiian Bank.
The contestants’ scores were tabulated and reported by CPA Greg Taketa of Taketa Iwata & Hara.
“All in all, these eight presentations were uniformly strong and well delivered,” said Clay, “and the quality of presentations far exceeded my expectations.”
Kushi said he was “super-impressed” with the finalists’ plans.
“Big Island folks should be very proud of their entrepreneurs,” said Dicus.
The co-chairs, originators and organizers of the project are aquaculture entrepreneur Jim Wyban and Realtor Kelly Moran, president of Hilo Brokers.
“Our goal,” said Moran, “is to stimulate an entrepreneurial ecosystem here on Hawai‘i Island.”
Wyban said that all the finalists’ tallied scores were close, but that in the end, the two-minute pitch from Ono Queens outscored those of the other contestants.
In second-place was Hawaii Family Health in Hilo, a medical practice headed by Michelle Mitchell, MD.
Big Island Wasabi, an agricultural enterprise in Kona led by Sara Philipps and Trevor La Torre-Couch, earned third place.
A second HIplan competition will be held in 2017.
“There are too few bridges between the island’s business community and the university,” said Moran. “So often, university graduates cannot find work here, so we want to expand their opportunities.” And
“The business communities of East and West Hawai‘i tend to be separate, so we feel that the Hiplan enterprise has stimulated collaboration,” Wyban noted. “The Silicon Valley experience shows that networking is the ‘secret sauce’ of successful places.”
HIplan was hosted by the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and sponsored by the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce.