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Hawaiʻi's Young Entrepreneurs Make Waves With Their Tech Startups

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Economies around the world are adjusting because of the pandemic. In Hawaiʻi, some of the disruptions have included the tech sector — and some young entrepreneurs. Pacific Business News Editor in Chief A. Kam Napier has more on the state’s current crop of young startups.

A number of emerging tech entrepreneurs in Hawaiʻi share one common trait: they’re all under 25. Each is developing apps or creating new markets aiming to transform things we do every day.

For example, Austin Yoshino, just 23, is co-founder and CEO of Shaka Sports. This former Aiea High School baseball player and now University of Hawaiʻi student wants to make it possible for parents, coaches, fans and more to livestream high school sports.

All that users need is the Shaka Sports app, a tripod, and their own phone.

shaka sports.jpg
Shaka Sports

The problem he’s trying to solve is visibility for high school athletes. Less than 10% of youth sports are ever aired on television, so college recruiters can’t easily see the talent that’s out there.

Yoshino has been perfecting the app throughout the year and aims to launch fully next month when the Oʻahu Interscholastic Association football season finally begins.

Then there’s Lauren Pierce and Spencer VanDerKamp, both also 23, co-founders of the mobile app, ReelFresh. That’s reel as in fishing reel because their goal is to connect consumers with fishers.

Fishermen post their day’s catch on the app, where buyers select and pay, and the two meet for direct pickup or delivery.

Reelfresh.jpeg
Courtesy Reelfresh

They’ve already amassed about 4,000 users statewide buying from 300 sellers. The pair vet the fishers they work with for sustainable practices and the app offers ratings and reviews.

VanDerKamp estimates buyers are saving on average 50-60% by buying directly from fishers.

Like many of the founders we spoke to this week, they’re plugged into the startup ecosystem.

Pierce and VanDerKamp were finalists in the UH Venture Competition and received a grant from UH’s Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship.

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