UH Hilo to host business plan competition, $25,000 in seed money will go to the winner

Sponsors are confident that by encouraging budding businesses to put their ideas forward, a better entrepreneurial ecosystem can be built on Hawai‘i Island.

Banner with the words "Best Big Island Business Plan, Business Plan Competition by the University of Hawaii at Hilo."

Two long-time businessmen on Hawai‘i Island, in conjuction with the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, have launched a competition for would-be entrepreneurs aiming to give the lucky winner a serious jump start in business.

Jim Wyban
Jim Wyban

At stake is a total of $25,000 in seed money from a variety of sponsors including the Natural Energy Laboratory, the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce, and Ulupono Initiative.

Entry is open to any and all types of businesses, from astronomy and agriculture to technology and tourism.

The competition project is being headed by two of Hawai‘i Island’s most respected and visionary business leaders. World-renowned aquaculture expert Jim Wyban and real estate broker Kelly Moran are co-chairing the upcoming Best Big Island Business Plan competition, to be hosted by UH Hilo in the fall of 2016.

Kelly Moran
Kelly Moran

Wyban is an aquaculture pioneer who helped develop pathogen-free shrimp varieties that helped to quadruple global production. The technology was later sold to a multinational corporation.

Moran, a UH Hilo alumnus with degrees in tropical agriculture and political science, is a 30-year real estate veteran who has overseen more than $500 million worth of transactions in his career. He is principal broker at Hilo Brokers and teaches real estate finance at the College of Business and Economics at UH Hilo.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Jim and Kelly,” says Emmeline de Pillis, a professor of management and director of the Office of Applied Learning at UH Hilo. “This is a fantastic opportunity for UH Hilo students and Hawai‘i Island residents. There’s a formidable amount of brainpower and creativity in our community, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the ideas that come out of this competition.”

The competition

UH Hilo is hosting the competition, helping to publicize it, and offering an online for-credit business planning course over the summer. Moran and Wyban are taking the lead on organizing and fundraising.

In addition, the UH Hilo Small Business Development Center will be providing consulting and a series of short workshops over the summer in preparation for the Sept. 1 submission deadline.

“As long as (the business plan) is Big Island-based, it qualifies,” explains Moran. “There’s so much talent out there, and this is a great opportunity to fast-forward someone’s killer concept.”

The purpose of the competition goes beyond jump-starting a lone entrepreneur or co-op. Both men are confident that by encouraging budding businesses to put their ideas forward, a better entrepreneurial ecosystem can be built on Hawai‘i Island.

“Good ideas can’t thrive in isolation,” says Wyban. “It takes peers, mentors and even competitors to push a venture to its full potential.”

Submit a business plan

Plan entries are being accepted now. Competition proceedings will be held at UH Hilo in the fall 2016 semester, exact date and time to be announced.

For more information on the competition and to download entry forms, visit the Best Big Island Business Plan’s website.

Questions can be directed to Jim Wyban at jim@BBIBP.org.


-Adapted from a media release