By Tarik Sultan, Co-founder of Sultan Ventures
Last Friday evening, Startup Paradise convened at Ka Waiwai, a beautiful coworking “Hawaiian Space where community, culture, and commerce intersect” for the All Aloha Incubator and Accelerator Meet Up, a new event organized by Hawaii Investment Ready (HIR). The event is designed to be a meeting of the minds for Hawaii’s local incubators and accelerators, and Sultan Ventures was there to represent our XLR8UH accelerator program.
In all, 8 local initiatives were represented, as well as a handful of startups from their respective programs, including XLR8UH portfolio startup Health Tech Apps, lead by student entrepreneur Kyle Chang (pictured above).
Chenoa Farnsworth, Managing Director of Blue Startups, kicked off the night with a fun and engaging recap of their nationally recognized accelerator focusing on gaming and Asia, and how their work has helped put Hawaii on the map, especially through their annual showcase event East Meets West.
Other quick takeaways :
- Elemental Excelerator shared their impact and mission to help create a cleaner, more sustainable future for Hawaii.
- GVS Transmedia Accelerator shared their vision to create media initiatives in which Hawaii entities can not only create local jobs, but can also own the IP – where the real return occurs for major motion picture productions.
- HIR – the hosts of the evening – shared their double bottom line perspective, which enables them to work with both non-profits and for-profits alike.
Presentations ended with a presentation from Omar sharing our work with XLR8UH, a top 30 accelerator program in the nation. All big bro biases aside, I thought this was one of the most impactful sessions of the night, largely because of his eloquent call to action on his closing slide.
One of the requests by HIR was to share some challenges and potential solutions as accelerators and as a community. Omar’s last slide contained the African Proverb that is often shared amongst startup communities – “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
He shared that we as a group of accelerators have done a great job of working together to elevate Startup Paradise, alongside government entities like HTDC, private entities such as American Savings Bank via Rich Wacker, and the University of Hawaii, which have stepped up ito support and invest in our community. However, as we travel around the nation and see other startup ecosystems, we see more involvement from the private sector than we have here in Hawaii. So, one of the main challenges we see moving forward is not getting companies started, but maintaining the momentum we’ve collectively created thus far. How do we address that? Omar called for more participation from the private sector to keep the innovation ball rolling, stressing: “it’s not any one individual or entity’s responsibility, but you better believe that it is all of our collective problem.”