Filled with the Spirit of Aloha

By Tyler Arnold, Account Executive & Digital Strategist at LCI 
tylerI recently had the honor of judging Honolulu’s Startup Weekend event, which is described as a “global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate and empower individuals, teams and communities.” The organization hosts 54-hour weekend events around the world where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts convene to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups. At the end of the event, teams present their ideas in front of a panel of judges that ultimately select a winner.
While the ocean waves and plentiful sunshine provided me with ample reasons to be distracted, I was lured in more by the enthusiasm of the nearly 100 local attendees. Hawaii’s dependence on tourism and the high cost of living make it a difficult place to found a startup, but that didn’t seem to deter participants. Similar to Alaska (where I grew up), it’s difficult to take a “comfortable” state and try to diversify its economy towards more sustainable means.
Out of the five judges on the panel, I was the only one visiting from out of state. The panel was to provide startup hopefuls the benefit of receiving feedback from locals as well as from someone on the mainland. Throughout the weekend, judges offered mentoring advice to each team. I was inspired to see what was accomplished by many of them in just over two days.
The teams that ended up placing included Varsity Prep (an app to connect sports players with one-on-one coaching opportunities), a local sustainable food play called Aloha Fresh and an app called Legistates which is designed to educate voters on local legislation issues. I was particularly impressed with Legistates, considering that Hawaii had one of the lowest voter turnouts in this month’s mid-term elections.
Aloha Fresh and Legistates both hinted at early ideas which could grow into nonprofits that would improve the local community in Hawaii. The idea that sustainable organizations and corporations could be born from this weekend event is exciting. I’m excited to check in with the teams in a month when one of the judges, Darius “Bubs” Monsef, will offer the group with the most traction a $25,000 term sheet investment offer. At that point, a new group of entrepreneurs could be born. Not a bad use of 54 hours!

HI startup weekend
Left to right: Justin Hernandez (participant), Spencer Toyama (sponsor), Darius “Bubs” Monsef (judge), Bryan Butteling (organizer), Tyler Arnold (judge), Adam Stelle (organizer, co-founder UP Global)

Questions or comments on the Startup Weekend? Let me know in a comment below or send an email to [email protected].

4 thoughts on “Filled with the Spirit of Aloha

  1. Tyler – isn’t it amazing how technology has spurred such innovation even in far-flung places like Hawaii. Hope you enjoyed a delicious mai-tai or two in the process as well. Cheers, David

  2. Hi Tyler,
    Thanks for sharing! These are all great startup ideas. Can’t wait to see what else will come out of Hawaii!
    – Elena

  3. The “legistates” app sounds really cool — I should have looked for an app to prepare myself for voting here in SF! Instead, I was trolling around Google and flipping through the voter information guide for a really long time…

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