Kanaka Maoli business wins 5,000 USD and advances to the 2024 Pow Wow Pitch Finals
On Wednesday, November 8th, 2023, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify, and Mastercard, announced Puna Tripp, the Kanaka Maoli Founder of Hā Tonics, from Hilo on Hawai’i Island, as the first-ever 2023 Mana Up Pow Wow Pitch Winner. The Native Hawaiian-owned business has won 5,000 USD and is advancing to the 2024 Pow Wow Pitch Finals for a chance to win $25,000.
On Wednesday, 35 Indigenous entrepreneurs pitched their businesses live at the Mana Up Showcase in Honolulu, Hawai’i, USA, for their chance to win cash prizes and advance to the 2024 Pow Wow Pitch Finals.
Host Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch, emceed the action-packed program alongside Mana Up co-founder, Meli James, where Indigenous entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas and businesses in one minute for their chance to win prizes and support to make their dreams a reality.
Following a first-round open pitch, judges Kyle Brennan Shàwinipinesì, Senior Lead Indigenous Entrepreneurship at Shopify; Bernice Parsons, Co-Founder of Vertaccount; Cole Slater, CEO of Maui Divers Jewelry; Kainoa Penaroza Co-Owner of Tag Aloha Co.; and Nohili Thompson, Strategy Consultant from Kamehameha Schools shortlisted the ‘Top 6’ entrepreneurs to advance to round two.
The Top 6 entrepreneurs were paired with mentors from Maui Divers Jewelry, Tag Aloha Co, and Kamehameha Schools to help them polish their presentations before they pitched one last time to judges Kyle Brennan Shàwinipinesì, Senior Lead Indigenous Entrepreneurship at Shopify; Bernice Parsons, Co-Founder of Vertaccount; Kimié Miner, President and CEO of Haku Collective; Jalene Kanani, Founder of NOHO Home; and Stacy Ferreira, CEO of OHA (Office of Hawaiian Affairs).
“I’m so honoured and grateful to have won the Mana Up Pow Wow Pitch, said First-place winner and Founder of Hā Tonics, Puna Tripp. “One thing that has been the foundation of starting our business is ‘those who know why will always rise above those who know how.’ Your purpose behind doing what you’re doing matters more than anything. As long as you have a strong ‘why’ you can keep going.”
Hā Tonics is a Hawaiian superfood brand that is providing the strength and vitality of Hawaiian foods in new ways through their superfood products. Hā Tonics currently has three locations on the Island of Hawai’i.
Puna also received the Fan Favourite 500 USD Prize and shared in her pitch that she is going to use her winnings to invest in the local crop farmers where Hā Tonics sources their product from and grow their production together.
The Second-Place 2,500 USD and Youth Prize 500 Prize USD Winner was fifteen year-old Coen Cadinha, Founder of Keiki Rise. Keiki Rise is an entrepreneurship program created by and for Hawaiian youth. Coen is empowering Hawaiian youth and how they can scale up through mentorship with his program. “Pow Wow Pitch dedicated a whole prize for Youth entrepreneurs and that shows their dedication to Youth entrepreneurship. I am so honoured to be here today, it was such a fun experience.”
The Third-Place 1,000 USD Winner was Tristan Manuel, Co-Founder of Maoli Farms, a Native-urban farm located in Kailua, O’ahu specializing in plants and trees. Maoli Farms also provides backyard Native Growers a platform to reach a wider audience and promote sustainable agriculture. “This was an awesome experience, I was super nervous but being amongst my peers and knowing that we’re all here to support each other was inspiring. I would encourage anyone else to just do it and give it a try!”
“Congratulations to Puna on her Golden Ticket win to advance to the 2024 Pow Wow Pitch Finals,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “We are in awe of the immense talent of Hawai’i and are so honoured to spotlight their work at the Mana Up Showcase. Puna, your drive to support Hawaiian farmers and promote healing through food is admirable and we are so excited to have you join us in next year’s Grand Finale.
“Pow Wow Pitch is a tremendous showcase of Indigenous innovation and entrepreneurship, and the stories and achievements of this year’s semi-finalists are a testament to their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Michael Ferencich, Senior Vice President, Business Financial Services, RBC. “We’re so proud of all our participants and semi-finalists, and we will continue to support their growth and success in the future.”
“Being involved in Pow Wow Pitch is not just an honour, it’s a privilege to witness the creativity and innovation of Indigenous entrepreneurs,” said Kyle Brennan Shàwinipinesì, Build Native Program Manager at Shopify. “It’s a reminder of the resilience and strength of our communities and the power of entrepreneurship to create positive change. Shopify has played a proud role in supporting Pow Wow Pitch, so it is exciting to see how things have grown over the years. What an incredible opportunity for Indigenous entrepreneurs!”
“At Mastercard, we’ve been inspired by the innovative thinking and solutions brought forward by all the Indigenous entrepreneurs involved in this year’s Pow Wow Pitch,” said Sasha Krstic, President of Mastercard in Canada. “The future is brighter when Indigenous entrepreneurship is recognized, supported and celebrated, and we are honoured to play a role in continued success and growth of these entrepreneurs. Congratulations to all the pitchers and congratulations to Puna on advancing to the next round.”
All those who pitched at the Mana Up Pow Wow Pitch will receive a 60-day free Shopify trial, and will join the Pow Wow Pitch community for ongoing support.
Puna will now advance to the 2024 Pow Wow Pitch Finals to pitch for the Grand Prize of $25,000. Visit www.powwowpitch.org for more information.