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Mermaid Mushrooms Wins HIPlan Grand Prize

October 26, 2020, 8:03 AM HST
* Updated October 26, 8:05 AM
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Mermaid Mushrooms, a developing business producing Gourmet Mushrooms for local consumption, was awarded Hawaii Island Business Plan Competition’s (HIPlan) grand prize of $25,000 over the weekend.

Mermaid Mushrooms was one of eight enterprises competing in the 2020 HIPlan competition. The finals were held online via Zoom on Saturday.

Amanda Gilroy, the entrepreneur behind Mermaid Mushrooms, stood out among the other finalists, in the contest “designed to stimulate development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem on Hawaii Island”, organizers say.

Courtesy of HIPlan

“Our winner clearly is helping to meet a need on our island that would transform the way that we consume, how we relate to our food, on Island,” said Meli James, one of the competition judges. “I think that was pretty outstanding.”

Gilroy said she still couldn’t believe she won.

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“…I’m thrilled to get this boost,” she said.

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Gilroy also won a one-year tuition scholarship from Hawaii Community College.

The HIplan competition is conducted in three rounds. Round 1 required submission of a seven-page business plan based on the HIplan template. The plans were reviewed by a team of judges and the top 15 plans moved forward to Round 2, which involved a seven-minute live presentation before judges.

The top eight plans moved on to the third and final round. HIplan’s Hawaii Island Business Competition finals are free to attend and open to the public. It is sponsored by Kamehameha Schools, the Edmund C. Olson Trust II, Hawaii Community College, Ulupono Initiative, and the County of Hawaii.

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“The process is really what’s special,” said organizer Jim Wyban. “They learn how to organize their thoughts into a coherent business plan, with a lot of feedback from us. Then, in practice sessions, they learn how to communicate clearly. I’ve seen people who have gone from barely able to talk about their business, to get up here and give a two-minute pitch that just knock your socks off.”

This year’s finalists included:

  • Hilo Food Hub
  • Island Harvest
  • Tea Hawaii & Company
  • Mermaid Mushrooms
  • Novapath Bio
  • Ku-A-Kanaka
  • Upcycle Hawaii
  • Ohana Goods

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