Student Corner Founders Althea Kamali'i, Morgan Dean, George Donev and Ted Shaneyfelt
Student Corner Founders Althea Kamali'i, Morgan Dean, George Donev and Ted Shaneyfelt

On Feb.10, advisors in PACE’s (Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship) new Liftoff Advisors program convened and decided to award three University of Hawai‘i startup companies with $40,000 in grant funding. The companies, founded by University of Hawai‘i students, were selected in October based on their potential and commitment to the new venture. Each company was matched with a thoughtfully-curated board of advisors who mentored the founders over six months. Founders established business development milestones and reported on their progress at monthly meetings. The mentors advised the founders at each meeting by commenting on their progress, recommending different markets to explore, and asking the teams to consider different strategies to reach their business goals. The advisors made the final grant award decisions based on the progress the companies made and their ability to achieve their milestones during the program. All three teams plan to use the grant awards to further develop their companies.

Liftoff Advisors Program Companies:

  • Hawaii Innovation Lab – an engineering firm that develops innovations in microfluidics, RF and biomedicine, founded by UH Manoa College of Engineering students
  • Mana’ola Innovations – an engineering company that designs and produces products in healthcare, founded by a multi-discipline team of UH Manoa students
  • Student Corner – a web platform that showcases student work, founded by a multidiscipline team of UH-Hilo students

“We’re fortunate to have the support of the UH Office of the VP for Research and Innovation that allows us to offer this program. Our goal is to lengthen the runway for promising UH companies by providing them with dedicated mentorship and funding to keep them going in a forward trajectory,” said Peter Rowan, executive director of PACE. “We didn’t know what to expect with this inaugural group, and are extremely impressed with the outcome and progress that each company made during the program.”

About the Liftoff Advisors program
This new PACE program is designed to support new venture founders in the delicate period after its founding. The program offers expert advisory services to select promising UH new ventures with the aim of building market- and investor-ready ventures. This milestone-based program requires participants to meet monthly over six months with a handpicked set of advisors. During the program, companies establish their own measurable milestones and report on their progress to advisors at monthly meetings. Upon successful completion of the program, each company is eligible for grant funding of up to $20,000. For more information about the Liftoff Advisors program, visit pace.shidler.hawaii.edu/liftoff