Hawaii Entrepreneur Awards 2023
Profiles of many of the year’s most successful and intrepid entrepreneurs, investors and innovators.
Hawai’i’s Startup Paradise continues to evolve and that evolution is reflected in the winners and finalists of this year’s Hawaii Entrepreneur Awards.
They are a diverse combination of innovative startups and multigenerational companies that have found “new life and new products” – and they’re “thinking differently about their brand and the future of their business,” says Meli James, president of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association, which sponsors the awards.
There are also more companies from Indigenous populations that “have traditionally been underserved,” says James.
What’s driving these changes is increased support for local entrepreneurs, including more capital and funding, and a “huge influx” of potential entrepreneurs into Hawai‘i because of all the job shifts and layoffs nationwide during the last three years, James says.
Brittany Heyd, who founded Mana Up with James, says the pandemic forced many local companies to think outside of tourism for revenue. “We have a more diversified revenue stream and a bigger market opportunity” because companies have increased their focus on e-commerce and other resources, says Heyd.
Kylie Matsuda-Lum and Judah Lum, who run Kahuku Farms, are among the finalists for Agriculture/Clean Tech Entrepreneur of the Year. They reflect the innovation that’s happening in every sector of the local economy.
“My hope is to continue to bring a greater awareness of farming, and the food that we eat every day, to our Island residents and visitors as well,” Matsuda-Lum says. “Because we need to bring people back to the land to educate them, so that we can sustain farming and agriculture for generations to come.”