Maui News

Winning Maui Entrepreneurs Showcase Business Potential in Food Innovation

November 24, 2018, 8:10 AM HST
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Three of Maui’s most innovative food businesses walked away with the top awards at the Maui Food Industry X-celerator Program 6th “Pitch” event hosted at the UH Maui College on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

The event was an opportunity for participants to showcase their unique products and network with local investors, industry leaders, and prospective consumers. The pitch was the highly anticipated culmination of an eight-week long training focusing on Maui county’s growing demand for new value-added food products.


Pitch Judges L-R: Jessie Ibanez, Kyle Sakamoto, Kim Robello, Garrett Marrero
Back Row: Gary Albitz & Chris Speere. PC: UHMC Maui Food Innovation Center.

Entire Cohort #6 class photo. PC: UHMC Maui Food Innovation Center.

MFIX Cohort #6 Top Scoring Company: Cymz Kre8tions
L-R: Chris Speere,Glen Fevella, Cymbree Kailiehu, Greg Cabanting
$3,000 prize sponsored by the Ulupono Initiative. PC: UHMC Maui Food Innovation Center.

Target markets for these innovative products are leading chefs, restaurants, and food enthusiasts.
This round of pitch judges represented various sectors of the food industry: Garrett Marrero from Maui Brewing Company, Kim Robello from Minit Stop Hawai‘i, Jessie Ibanez from Tamura’s Maui, and Kyle Sakamoto, Central Pacific Bank Vice President.

Pitch winners were selected based on product innovation, presentation of concept, and business acumen. The line-up of artisanal products revealed at the pitch illustrated the talent, creativity and ingenuity of Maui county food entrepreneurs.

Top presenters, Cymbree Kailiehu and Glen Fevella, Cymz Kre8tionz owners, pitched their delicious and unique Ube Chantilly Tartlets. The treats are bite-sized decadent treats appealing to all ages and ethnicities and exemplify tasteful innovation in action.


Second place winner Veronica Jachowski pitched nutritious Ono Bone Broth, a product with potential for supporting local “zero food waste” initiatives by producing all-natural, highly flavorful collagen rich Bone Broth utilizing by-products from local cattle ranching.


Third place winner “Haleakalā Supah Shots” Tina Kekoolani enthusiastically pitched her three island style flavors of hand-crafted Hawaiian Chili Pepper Tonics made from locally grown peppers offering many health benefits. Her products created a “got to have it and where can I buy these?” buzz throughout the Pitch audience.

“We are very grateful to our 6th cohort major sponsors the Ulupono Initiative, Flavor Waves, Focal Point Consulting, Kai Marketing, King’s Hawaiian, Rimfire Imports, Maui Food Technology Center, and Whole Foods Market. These sponsors provided prize funding and entrepreneurship resources in support of food entrepreneurs growing their businesses,” said Chris Speere, MFIX coordinator.

MFIX instructor Greg Cabanting added, “During the MFIX course, Cohort 6 participants formed a supportive and nurturing class environment essential to each company’s success and connected each fledging food company with mentors. The mentors came from our community’s businesses and provided an invaluable networking experience for food business start-ups!”


The MFIX program provides participants with an overview of business planning and marketing, good manufacturing practices, industry trends, and food industry requirements, while helping participants navigate some of the challenges that arise as a small business.

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