Entrepreneurial Spirit ‘Alive and Well on Lāna‘i’
Seventeen Lāna‘i residents gathered on June 25 and 26 at the island’s senior center for an intense, two-day “Entrepreneurs’ Toolkit Bootcamp.”
Presented by the Maui Economic Development Board as part of their Innovation Series, the free workshop provided attendees with helpful tips and resources to assist in launching their startups or boosting their existing businesses.
Opening the workshop, keynote speaker Lanai Tabura spoke about the importance of aloha and networking. According to Tabura, a Lāna‘i native, entrepreneur, radio DJ, comedian and actor, his willingness to treat others with aloha helped him cultivate relationships and build an extensive network of contacts which has benefitted his career to this day.
Equally important, Tabura stressed the need for adaptability and innovation in any business. Adaptability is a critical trait for an entrepreneur to possess when something new or unexpected situations arise. The ability to innovate on the fly points to resourcefulness and creativity which enables entrepreneurs to look at problems and opportunities from a different angle.
Tabura also encouraged workshop attendees to always be ready to take every opportunity that comes their way.
Representatives from Sultan Ventures—Luke Tucker, associate; Omar Sultan, co-founder/managing partner; and Meli James, head of New Ventures—led most of the workshop discussions, which consisted of an overview of the entrepreneurship mindset, importance of startups in Hawai‘i, and how to get started on a business startup.
Participants also learned invaluable tips and tricks in creating a Lean Canvas, an actionable and entrepreneur-focused business plan that focuses on problems, solutions, key metrics and competitive advantages.
Chef Adam Tabura, Lanai’s brother and partner on the Aloha Plate, which captured first place on Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” in 2013, hosted a pau hana Saturday afternoon featuring some of his food truck creations and pūpū using Lāna‘i-sourced ingredients.
He spoke to the group about his entrepreneurship journey and his newest business ventures.
During the two-day workshop, participants also got a taste of life as a startup. Hands-on exercises included pitching their startup ideas, working in teams to create a startup, presenting their business plans and receiving feedback from their peers and Sultan’s representatives, who also served as judges.
At the end of the workshop, everyone who participated received a certification of completion from MEDB.
Workshop attendees expressed enthusiasm over the entrepreneurial tools that were shared.
“I’m currently an entrepreneur, I have a home-based business and I’m fully self-employed, but I needed direction to make it grow,” said Lāna‘i resident Jina Lopez. “This workshop helped me to understand aspects of business I didn’t really know how to use, such as creating a business plan. It’s given me a different view point on how to be a leader and implement my ideas.”
“The topic of starting a business has always been important to me since I was a child, so anytime I can participate in something that gives me more knowledge or validates some of things I’ve learned or done is worth while doing,” said workshop participant Clay Richardson. “A lot of people plan, plan, plan and never validate or know if their business hypothesis was right. By doing some planning like the steps outlined in the Lean Startup method, doing research, getting feedback, and making adjustments to ensure your business method is repeatable—then you know whether you have something that works.”
“Prior to this workshop, I thought that just having a great product would be suffice enough to just bring it forward to my customers,” said workshop attendee Rose Simon. “But now I know I need to network, I need to promote it, I need to ask more questions, I need to get more feedback all the time to ensure I keep abreast of my customers’ demands, and I need to be real and have my heart in the right place. It’s not just that I have a great product and I’m going to present it and it’s going to succeed. I need to do my homework.”
“The enthusiasm of all who participated in the program was tremendous,” said Frank R. De Rego Jr., director of Business Development Projects at MEDB. “Workshop attendees, who ranged in ages from early 30s to seniors, reaffirmed what we already knew—that Lāna‘i’s entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. MEDB looks forward to offering other business assistance workshops on Lanai and hope those who are interested in starting a business or want to expand their existing business will join us.”
The Entrepreneurs’ Toolkit Bootcamp workshop was part of MEDB’s Innovation Series, a grassroots effort to help small businesses establish strong systems, processes, tools, and best practices to build a solid foundation for success.
Event sponsors were the County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Lāna‘i Chamber of Commerce, Sultan Ventures, XLR8UH and Kaiser Permanente.