SBA’s InnovateHER Challenge Maui Champion Announced
In a close competition, Pamela Norris of Wailuku was named the Maui winner of the US Small Business Administration’s 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Business Challenge on Thursday, Nov. 19.
Norris won for her product, the ICEBUDDY System, a portable cooling system that utilizes new technology to transport medicine, water, and food for emergencies. ICEBUDDY keeps medication requiring refrigeration cold for three days.
SBA launched this national competition in an effort to find products and services across the US that help impact and empower the lives of women and families. Maui Economic Development Board hosted the Maui competition.
“My lifetime has been spent trying to make a positive difference in the world,” said Norris. “That journey has taken me from teaching everything from the pre-school level to post graduate, training security, and law enforcement officers and directing mental health services. Now this experience has brought me to a point where I choose to focus my talents on developing revolutionary products that meet unmet needs.
“My latest venture is launching the ICEBUDDY System, a portable cooling system that enables ice, water, medication, and emergency supplies to be stored and transported easily,” said Norris.
Ten finalists presented five-minute pitches for their product/service to a panel of judges: Teri Edmonds, owner of If the Shoe Fits in Wailuku, founder of the Maui Shoe Academy and a YouTube show host; Leslie Mullens, founder of Playbook Consulting; Chelsea Fernandez, owner of FernanTECH, Inc. and co-founder of Hawaii Assistive Technology Company; Teri Gleason, a local business owner, jewelry designer and ceramist); and Leah Belmonte, Gov. David Ige’s Maui community liaison and representative.
Judges took into account criteria such as whether the product/service had a measurable improvement in the lives of women and families, potential for commercialization and filled a need in the marketplace.
As the Maui winner, Norris took home $500 in cash from MEDB. She will also have the opportunity to be considered for SBA’s national competition in Washington, DC, on March 16 and 17, 2016, as part of a larger Women’s Summit. If selected, she will compete against other finalists nationwide and have an opportunity to pitch her idea to a panel of expert judges drawn from the private sector. Three winners will be chosen and awarded up to $70,000 in cash prizes. First place will receive $40,000, second place will get $20,000 and third place will be awarded $10,000.
“We were very impressed with the depth, thought, and passion of those who gave their pitches today,” said Frank De Rego Jr., director of business development projects at MEDB. “It was particularly exciting to see these empowering individuals who are focused on building their businesses and living their dreams.”
“I think SBA is on to something here and we hope they continue to grow this competition,” said Gerry Smith, MEDB director of business development. “Not only will programs such as these help women break that glass ceiling in terms of business and entrepreneurship, but also will provide opportunities to help to empower women and families and ultimately help to build communities.”
The other finalists who competed in the InnovateHER 2016 Maui competition were:
Coleen d’Avignon of Shebangz, a do-it-yourself bangs kit for women with hair loss.
Terra Foti of “RUSHwahine LLC,” an all-womens entrepreneurial community based in Hawai‘i and connected virtually around the globe.
Anna Goodreau, with her treatment for post-birth healing, hemorrhoid relief, post-hemorrhoidectomy healing.
Claire Gilbert of Maui Innovation Group, a web portal for a canopy care management product to allow patients and caregivers to better communication and coordinate their healthcare.
Ariana Stugard of White Buffalo Design: sensory-based wearables as communication and social skills aids for women and girls on the autism spectrum.
David Taera of Turn on the Light: teaching positive parenting techniques through stories.
Lin Ter Horst of Maui Fruit Jewels: artisan candy with health benefits.
Anjali Trice of The Conscious Education Project, a curriculum that compliments traditional education that empowers students to be the best they can be.
Zoe Weston of The Organizer, a lifestyle organizing service.
The InnovateHER 2016 Challenge on Maui was hosted by MEDB. Sponsors included: SBA, the County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and Pacific Media Group.