Idea for Innovative Mobility Device, Inspired by a Founder's Brother, Wins 2019 UH Business Plan Competition

First place stage photo
L to R: PACE Executive Director Peter Rowan, mechanical engineering student Austin Yoshino, business student Kendra Horvath, biology student Jillian Kuba, Shidler College of Business Dean Vance Roley, business student Everett Amundson, team co-coach Baola

After three intense rounds of competition, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Shidler College of Business Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) is pleased to announce that a team of biology, business and mechanical engineering students received first place honors in the 2019 UH Business Plan Competition (BPC), sponsored by American Savings Bank. Four finalist teams representing the best early-stage student startup ideas at UH competed for prize packages totaling more than $40,000 in cash and in-kind awards on April 25, 2019, at the Waialae Country Club.

The results are:

FIRST PLACE – Prize package includes $10,000 cash and more than $19,500 in legal, marketing, and startup support services.

Team: G-Trainer – dedicated to the founder’s little brother who is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, this company designs walking assistive devices that incorporates self-stabilizing gyroscopic technology into its wheels for greater freedom and mobility for individuals with disabilities
Team members: Everett Amundson, Kendra Horvath, Jillian Kuba, and Austin Yoshino

SECOND PLACE – Prize package includes $5,000 cash and more than $13,500 in legal, marketing, and startup support services.

Team: Dive Buddy – a local diving equipment and technology company specializing in providing tour companies with diver safety and diver identification products
Team members: Bradley Beeksma, Melody Leilani Kaohu, Isaac Lee, Zack Naqvi, and Nicholas Ulm

THIRD PLACE – Prize package includes $2,500 and more than $7,000 value in legal and marketing services.

Team: Okara Kitchen – a company that develops nutrient-dense, gluten-free pizza dough from repurposed tofu and soy milk food waste
Team members: Jinan Banna and Asuka Suzuki

The finalists successfully advanced past 21 other teams, pouring hundreds of hours into interviewing potential customers, developing real traction for their new venture, writing a comprehensive business plan, and crafting a compelling pitch.

“Competitions such as this one, make a tremendous difference in our students’ college experience and in their lives,” said Peter Rowan, Executive Director of PACE. “I’m grateful to our generous sponsors who share our passion for nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators, and to the more than 60 business professionals who volunteered their time and energy as coaches, judges and instructors to make this real-world learning opportunity possible.”

The 2019 BPC title sponsor is American Savings Bank, and prize sponsors include HiBEAM (in memory of venture capital pioneer Billy Richardson), Pineapple Tweed, Sultan Ventures, the University of Hawaii Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, and Vantage Counsel.

For information regarding the Business Plan Competition, please contact Krystal Lee, program manager for PACE at