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Forget tech, these successful Hawaiʻi startups were founded on farming and fishing

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Pawniolo Pets / Piko Provisions / Reeler
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This week, Pacific Business News profiled 11 startups, and while many of them deal in software and data, some have taken a modern approach to some of the oldest organized activities humans do — farming and fishing.

For example, sixth-generation farmer Ethan West is the founder of Piko Provisions. His two-year-old company produces baby food by sourcing ingredients, such as taro, bananas and breadfruit directly from small Hawaiʻi farms.

In just two years, it has gone from crowdfunding an idea to working with about 300 farm partners to produce products carried in more than 200 locations statewide, including a recent contract with Longs/CVS.

Pawniolo Pets is another company that has a ranching connection. Co-founder Nick Vericalla is a third-generation cattle rancher.

He, his wife and co-founder Miki Vericella launched their business in 2019, creating pet food made from grass-fed animals raised in Hawaiʻi.

Last year, they were recognized by the Hawaiʻi Venture Capital Association as Agriculture Entrepreneurs of the Year.

And then there's Reeler, which is an app for smartphones that connects local consumers directly to Hawaiʻi's fishing fleet — skipping the wholesale and retail steps in the supply chain.

Co-founders Lauren Pierce and Spencer VanDerKamp developed the app while still students at the University of Hawaiʻi and formally launched it as a business in 2021 with the help of prize money won as finalists in the UH Venture Competition.

While they’ve grown their business locally, they’ve attracted attention from Florida fisheries who would like the duo to bring their direct-to-consumers app to that market.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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