Maui Food Innovation Center Selects Winners of 3rd Pitch Event
Three of Maui’s innovative food businesses walked away with the top awards at the Maui Food Industry X-celerator Program’s third “Pitch” event hosted at the UH Maui College.
The event, held on Thursday, March 23, gave participants an opportunity to showcase their unique products and network with local investors, business industry leaders, and potential consumers.
The event culminated after an eight-week long training that focused on Maui’s own chefs/restaurateurs.
The line-up of distinctive crafted products revealed at the Pitch event demonstrated the creativity and ingenuity of our Maui food entrepreneurs.
Top winner, Sun Republic Foods owner, Harold Boxley pitched “Ono Nanners,” a Maui sun-dried healthy and natural snack. His product had only two ingredients-bananas and sunshine.
Second place winner, Kīhei’s Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse owner, Chef Chris Schobel pitched his famous and tasty BBQ sauces and rubs.
Third place winner, “mauitempeco” Jamie Tourin, pitched a fresh and versatile adzuki bean tempeh that is high in protein, organic, gluten free, dairy free, and non-soy. These products had guest asking, “where can I buy these?”
“We are very grateful to the County of Maui’s Office of Economic Development who provided the award funding and whose continued support of this unique food ‘incubator’ business program allows these food entrepreneurs to further grow their businesses,” said Chris Speere, Maui Food Innovation Center Site Coordinator and instructor for this course.
Speere added, “During the MFIX course, participants connected with and were mentored by many of our Maui community businesses, which is invaluable as a start-up.”
This year’s judges represented various sectors of the food industry: Annalee England, Team Lead for Whole Foods Market Maui, Kelly Degala, Corporate Chef for ABC Stores, and Kim Robello, Marketing Manager Minit Stop Hawaiʻi. Winners were selected based on product innovation, presentation of concept, and business acumen.
The MFIX program is sponsored by the US Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund, Hawaiʻi Strategic Development Corporation’s HI Growth Initiative, UH Maui College, and Whole Foods Market.
MFIX provides participants with an overview of business planning and marketing, good manufacturing practices, industry trends, food industry requirements, while helping participants navigate some of the challenges that arise as a small business.
In addition to Speere, the MFIX course was taught by Greg Cabanting, Maui Branch Manager for Anheuser-Busch Sales of Hawaiʻi. Program partners also included: the Small Business Development Center, County of Maui Business Resource Center, Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc., Maui Economic Development Board, Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, Maui Wine, Maui Food Technology Center, and alumni of the MFIX program.
The upcoming MFIX will focus on Agri Businesses; those farmers who want to turn something they grow into a value-added product, which will start on Monday, July 10, 2017. For information or to register visit the Edventure website.
More information about the Maui Food Innovation Center and its training programs is available online.