Tag Archives: Blue Startups

#StartupParadise Demo Day

IMG_1434 Someone new to the islands came up to me at the recent Startup Paradise Demo Day and said there are a lot of people in the tech community. Compared to 15 years ago, I think that is true. When you take snapshot views like this it becomes clear the tech community has grown considerably. The main difference in my mind is the number of young people (to me everyone looks young) that have joined the ranks. Programs like Blue Startups, XLR8UH and Energy Excelerator have done wonders to nurture the up and coming young entrepreneurs, something we did not have 15 years ago. For this fourth Demo Day, Blue Startups featured 5 companies from their recent co-hort: TipTop Health, Selly, Job Rangers, Sagely and Advlo. XLR8UH featured Diagenetix and Flywire. With Energy Excelerator, instead of company pitches, short interviews with the founders of Shifted Energy, Pono Home and Stem gave the audience a peek into the business operations after the accelerator program.
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Energy Excelerator Interns
To close out the program Energy Excelerator brought on stage three interns from Hawaii Pacific University and the RISE program who worked within the three energy companies. It's rare to see interns featured in a program but it worked well for this demo day. They were billed as the next generation of entrepreneur and the organizers did a good job of demonstrating the potential pathway from college into to startup. Although intuitively obvious, but not often well executed, having a continual pipeline of graduates looking to start new companies is key to a healthy ecosystem. It appears the concerted effort demonstrated at Startup Paradise shows the focus on nurturing this pipeline. It will be interesting to follow not only the companies graduating from the accelerator programs but also the accelerators themselves. Karl Fooks from the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation told me that he is not seeking any funding from the 2015 Legislative session. Previous sessions helped fund LAVA and the Hi Growth Initiative. Chenoa Farnsworth, Managing Director of Blue Startups, said they have enough money to go another year. They received funding from LAVA and from founder Henk Rogers. To reach sustainability and to eliminate the need for public money, Blue Startups will need to cash in on their equity stakes in successful startups. So if this model is successful, we should see some of the graduating companies reaching a point of acquisition to trigger a liquidity event. To see this in the fourth year would be awesome but if they do seek public money to continue for a couple more years, I think it is well worth it. The momentum created with #StartupParadise needs to continue to grow and thrive.