Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

Will Hawaii Startup Accelerators Succeed or Fail?

There's a lot of excitement around Hawaii's emerging startup accelerators.

Some people have said that Hawaii has tons of talent, all it needs is some money, others say it's the blind leading the blind.

I am out of touch with the details so I was wondering if anyone could shed light on the likely outcomes. What do you think? Will these accelerators succeed or fail?

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Comment by Don Kosak on February 5, 2013 at 4:17pm

Nalukai's charter is state-wide.  I'm personally interested in making sure the various outer islands are well represented in our growing startup community.  Our main workshop will be on Big Island.  We plan to hold events in various cities across the islands and to support or partner with other groups for events on Oahu.  

Comment by John on February 5, 2013 at 4:10pm

Hi Don, thanks for the feedback!

I was wondering - are the Nalukai teams going to be just Big Island residents? If not are people going to move to the Big Island with the intention to stay or just for the accelerator period?

Comment by Don Kosak on February 5, 2013 at 4:00pm

Establishing a vibrant startup community takes time and involvement by a lot of people: entrepreneurs, techies, creatives, investors and supportive business leaders.

I think this batch of accelerators is coming at the right time to help strengthen that community.

We probably can't jump in with a "Y Combinator" style accelerator in Hawaii.  It might be better to look at other regions that have succeeded in building strong startup communities.  Start Garden in Michigan or TechStars in Colorado for example.  These communities took years to build though, and the accelerators in them were only one part of the whole.

There are a lot of talented folks, some of whom have deep experience in running incubators and accelerators elsewhere, involved in creating the accelerators in Hawaii.  As in other regions, I think startups will trickle in at first and gain steam as the community itself evolves. I've been impressed with the mentors we've seen express interest in helping.  I think vetting startups and due diligence will be a challenge, especially at first, as there will be pressure to get as large a "class" size as possible.

The most important ingredient to the success of the accelerators however, is community involvement.  (I mean you!)

Check out the accelerator websites and learn a bit about them.  Lend them a hand, and spread the word.  The websites are:

Blue Startups

Kinetiq Labs


To answer John's initial question: I think they have a shot, although it's going to take some time and support from the community. I may be a bit biased though -- I helped found Nalukai.

Comment by Daniel Leuck on February 4, 2013 at 6:16am

I certainly hope they do, but accelerators can't run on hope :-) There are many talented people in Hawaii, but success of the incubators will come down to:

  1. Are there enough talented people who have the other prerequisites to be successful entrepreneurs and will they apply? Some of this simply comes down to the size of the pool. It would be interesting to see numbers on accelerators in areas of similar size.
  2. Are the incubators well structured and do they have the right mentors involved?
  3. Will they be able to do effective due diligence? Just because there is a relatively small amount of capital involved per investment doesn't mean you can throw fifty poorly vetted ideas against the wall and expect success.


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