A student-run seed investment group, the Calvin Shindo Student Venture Fund at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, announced its first-ever strategic investments totaling $20,000 in Hohonu and Reeler, companies started by a UH faculty member and alumni.
The venture fund—launched in 2021 as a program under the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) at the Shidler College of Business—is a one-of-a-kind learning opportunity, giving students real-world, hands-on learning on the venture capital process. The 12-member interdisciplinary committee of students sourced potential deals, screened investment applications, conducted thorough due diligence on the startups, negotiated and structured the deals.
“These investments highlight the tremendous innovative and entrepreneurial potential of our UH faculty and students,” said Nathan Bek, former chair who oversaw the investments in the two startups. “It also highlights the need for more equity-based investments into startups that will contribute to diversifying Hawaiʻi’s economy.”
The venture fund’s first investment was in Hohonu, a startup that uses technology developed by UH Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology Associate Professor Brian Glazer, to help coastal communities monitor tides and water levels in real time to better respond and adapt to flooding and climate change.
A second investment was made into Reeler, a startup developed by two UH Mānoa alums, Lauren Pierce and Spencer VanDerKamp, to connect small-scale fishermen directly to consumers via its mobile app.
Related UH News stories:
- UH innovators, entrepreneurs awarded for ‘re-imagining’ state’s economy, March 9, 2022
- UH startup improves flood-risk management in 54 U.S. communities, October 18, 2021
- PBN young innovator honorees are UH Mānoa alumni, October 1, 2021
New fund leaders
The Calvin Shindo Student Venture Fund also announced two new student leaders. Chris Scott-Gray, a senior in finance at the Shidler College of Business, will serve as incoming chair.
“I am excited to be in a position where I can have a tangible and positive impact on Hawaiʻi’s entrepreneurship ecosystem,” Scott-Gray said. “With the strong foundation that the former student leaders set in place, I plan to continue growing the reach of the fund by implementing long-term marketing strategies, improve the education of venture capital for fellow students and to utilize strategic partnerships.”
We are excited to both assist in the education of venture capital for UH students and to assist local startups in achieving their dreams.
Rumesh Sentinathan, a senior in civil engineering at the College of Engineering, will serve as vice chair.
“After working, learning, and growing with the Calvin Shindo Student Venture Fund team for almost a year and a half, I was delighted to be nominated as vice chair,” Sentinathan said. “We look to ensure that UH-affiliated startups and students are supported through the fund. We are excited to both assist in the education of venture capital for UH students and to assist local startups in achieving their dreams through both funding and advising.”