HIplan Competition Semi-finalists to Pitch Business Plans

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HIplan competition flyer.

Fifteen local entrepreneurs will pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges in the second round of the 2017 HIplan competition on Saturday, Oct. 21, for a chance to win $25,000 in seed money. The public event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hale Lako at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaiʻi Authority (NELHA) in Kailua-Kona. It will also be live-streamed through the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo system.

During the event, each team will give a 15-minute presentation outlining their business plan.

The 15 semi-finalists were selected from 39 plans submitted to the HIplan competition in early September this year. Finalists selected during the second round of the competition will go on to give a final two-minute “elevator pitch” to judges on Nov. 4 at NELHA.


This year’s competition includes a special category for the best business plan created by students attending the UH-Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College.

The semi-finalists who will present on Oct. 21 include:

  • Ahualoa Farms: Proposes to revive the coffee industry on the Hamakua Coast.
  • Ai Pono Mushrooms, LLC: Proposes to grow gourmet mushrooms for local restaurants and consumers.
  • Alaka’i Academy: Proposes to build a new facility for its child-development center.
  • Big Island Tiny Homes: Proposes to build small, affordable houses with concrete.
  • Bokoa Farms: Proposes to process invasive waiawi (strawberry guava) wood into chips for smoking meat.
  • Cocoa Outlet & The Chocolate Guy Hawaiʻi: Proposes to build a warehouse and processing center for locally grown chocolate.
  • Empi Empi Foods: Proposes to cultivate the legume gandule (pigeon pea) both for food and for soil enhancement.
  • Hawaiʻi Farmers Exchange: Proposes new approaches for marketing locally grown coffee and tea.
  • Kona Coco Farms: Proposes to host new fields of dwarf coconut palms and market their products.
  • Lava Zone Lifestyle, LLC: Proposes to manufacture presses for making cannabis “rosin.”
  • Namaka Algae: Proposes to cultivate spirulina (blue-green algae) as a nutritional supplement.
  • Renewable Ocean Energy, Inc.: Proposes to commercialize a hydroelectric generator that operates on shorelines.
  • Spicy Ninja Sauce, LLC: Proposes to market its locally-produced line of hot sauces and condiments.
  • Sunshine Pediatric Clinic, LLC: Proposes to expand access to pediatric medical services on Hawaiʻi Island.
  • The Water Machine: Proposes to market its counter-top water purification system.

The grand prize money was donated to the HIplan competition through a collaborative effort between Ulupono Initiative, Hawaiʻi Technology Development Corporation, Hawaiʻi Strategic Development Corporation, NELHA, Big Island Toyota, Reef Capital Ventures and Pacific Trial Attorneys.


“We couldn’t do this project without our business partners who have supported HIplan from the start, and our judges who devote the time to evaluate and consider every plan submitted,” said Kelly Moran, president of Hilo Brokers and co-chair of HIplan.

The 2017 HIplan competition is being co-hosted by the UH-Hilo and NELHA, administered by Hawaiʻi Island Chamber of Commerce and supported by the Hawaiʻi Small Business Development Center Network.

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