Students put biz plans to test
Young entrepreneurs went through a "Shark Tank" experience during the 2015 University of Hawaii Retail Business Plan Contest finale that took place at the UH-Manoa Campus Center.
The May 12 competition, hosted by the University of Hawaii at Manoa Fashion Design and Merchandising Program, had 18 business hopefuls offer up business plans for clothing lines, boutiques, food, jewelry design, and other fashion/retail-oriented business, and four individuals were selected to face a panel of judges for the opportunity to win cash prizes—sponsored by Our Kaka'ako and PACE (Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship)—toward making their goals come true. The contest is also supported by Retail Merchant of Hawai'i and the Hawai'i Small Business Development Center.
UH professor Youngjin Bahng organized the contest to help students in her FDM 437 Small Business Start-Up course use knowledge gleaned to develop a retail business plan.
Students stood before judges to offer up details of their business plans, then answer questions on fine details of financing, production, staffing and marketing strategies, giving them a taste of what it will be like when they one day seek help from bankers and investors.
The judges were Lori Hiramatsu, senior consultant at the Hawai'i Small Business Development Center; Sheri Sakamoto, President of the Retail Merchants Association of Hawai'i; Susan Yamada, Executive Director of PACE; and Erin Kinney, Marketing Manager of Our Kaka`ako.
After the presentations, there was a break for refreshments and the announcement of winners.
The first prize of $1,500 went to Pololia Glasswork, jewelry designs by Shayna Nichols, Arts & Science. Second prize ($700) went to White Elephant, a budget retail clothing concept by Victoria Prince, FDM, and third prize ($500) went to Common Goods, a street-chic clothing line by Christopher Ching, FDM.
The event also raises awareness of the importance of young entrepreneurs' contributions to the local retail industry, which is the largest single generator of state general excise tax revenue, and employs nearly 20 percent of the workforce.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.