Maka Hou Lānaʻi a Success for Lānaʻi Entrepreneurs
Last weekend, from October 21-23, a small group of Lānaʻi entrepreneurs, with the support of the Maui Economic Development Board, took great strides towards realizing their business goals.
Maka Hou Lānaʻi , hosted by MEDB, was a three-day workshop competition where Lānaʻi entrepreneurs were invited to learn how to create and launch a new business from the ground up – in just one weekend. Mentors, experienced entrepreneurs, and investors provided coaching and support throughout the weekend. After two days of market validation, research, and cost analyses, each group of participants gave a 10-minute “pitch” on Sunday afternoon to a panel of judges, which included McKeon Sheldon Mehling’s associate, Rebecca Filipović.
For one young veteran, Neal Cabanting, his dream of opening Lanai’s only barber shop may become a reality sooner than expected. Cabanting, who took first place in the competition, pitched his business idea for a barber shop in an entertaining role play in which he pretended to cut teammate, Rünno Allikivi’s hair. Cabanting, who grew up on Lānaʻi , explained that he had been cutting hair since he was in the 7th grade. After graduating from high school in 2008, he joined the U.S. Military and was deployed overseas. After sustaining an injury in which he lost is left leg, Cabanting returned to Lānaʻi , with the dream of opening Crown Cutz, Lānaʻi’s only barber shop.
Over the course of the weekend, Cabanting and his teammates, which included Christian Cramer, high school student from Kihei Charter School, and several MEDB facilitators, launched a Facebook page, surveyed the community, and lined up three solid days of bookings. The judging panel was impressed with Cabanting’s progress over the weekend and more so by his “likability”. Cabanting is well-known in the small Lānaʻi community and is a clear role model for many young boys. As winner of the Maka Hou Lānaʻi, Cabanting received over $2,000 in services, including 2 ½ hours of business coaching with executive/business coach and leadership expert, Beth Holiday; brand consulting with the Accidental Consultant’s Eric Blair, a book of ferry tickets and $100 Uber gift card to attend the consultations on Maui; and a $300 Amazon gift card for business supplies.
Other Lānaʻi residents who participated in the event included:
- Pat Palumbo, a retired nurse who pitched “April in Paris”, an idea for a nonprofit semi-independent care home for Lānaʻi’s aging population
- Judi Riley, an author and school teacher who pitched an idea for all-organic plush toys to accompany and bring to life the characters in her children’s books; and
- Taj Sunio, a LānaʻiHigh School student, and Shane Caldwell, Kihei Charter School student, who pitched an idea for an organic fertilizer that aims to rid Lānaʻi’s soil from harsh chemicals left over from the pineapple plantation days.
In addition to MSM’s Rebecca Filipović, the judging panel included Sultan Ventures principal, Omar Sultan, and entrepreneur and mentor Colleen O’Shea Brady.
Overall, MEDB’s inaugural Maka Hou Lānaʻi event was an incredible success and the accomplishments of its participants are likely to generate a lot of buzz and interest in the Lānaʻi community over the next year!
Congratulations to Crown Cutz and all of the participants for your achievements throughout the weekend!