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Juliana Rogers, pictured in the middle above Motion Management’s large check, and her team won the 2023 UH Venture Competition.

Juliana Rogers fell in love with the ocean as a child. It was not until her young adult life, that she began to pursue surfing. The first time she spent hours on a board was the same time she knew her career would revolve around the water. Since then, she has turned it into a new business, crediting the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa for her success.

person speaking to other people using a microphone
Rogers presents to a panel of judges at the UH Venture Competition.

Rogers’ business, Motion Management, won the 2023 UH Venture Competition held each year by the UH Mānoa Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship in the Shidler College of Business. Motion Management strives to represent water sports athletes with a focus in personal branding. Its main goal is to create sustainable and lucrative careers for athletes while also cultivating a community.

Rogers’ team of five UH Mānoa students beat out more than 40 competitors to win first place, including $10,000 from American Savings Bank, and more than $26,000 in in-kind prizes and resources.

“To see the vision actualized and have the validation and recognition we got from winning solidifies that what we’re doing is something worthwhile,” Rogers said. “As an entrepreneur you can have moments or seconds where you may doubt yourself, and then winning this competition is like, no, the doubt is just you being human and you can let go of that. It’s all coming into fruition.”

person on a surfboard in the ocean
(Photo courtesy: Juliana Rogers)

So far, Motion Management has two clients: John Michael Van Hohenstein, nicknamed “Johnny the Ripper,” a 19-year-old talented longboarder; and Enchante Gallardo, a five-time national record holder, who is currently pursuing a world record in her sport of freediving. Motion Management gained traction quickly, and was able to generate more than $14,000 in value for one of their clients in just three months.

Rogers, who graduated with her degree in entrepreneurship in spring 2023, is focused on growing the business further. She is expanding the company’s client base and increasing resources to offer to their athletes. Although Rogers is based in Hawaiʻi, she is looking at going international. Her first stop is Tahiti.

“I want to become integrated with being able to make a difference in the tourism industry in Hawaiʻi, and I think it’s about looking at what has been done in Tahiti versus what has been developed here in Hawaiʻi and being able to make a positive impact here,” Rogers said.

Rogers was one of 40 students in Professor Qimei Chen’s spring 2023 MKT 372: Marketing for New Ventures class, and Chen made entering the UH Venture Competition a required component in her course this spring. Seven of the eight teams from the class made it to the semifinals, including Rogers’ team which came out on top.

“When Juliana initially met her team members in my class to build the Motion Management brand, her passion instantly struck me.” Chen recalled. “Throughout the competition, her commitment to help transform Hawaiʻi’s water sports community has pulled the team together to power through all stages of the UH Venture competition.”

Summers in Hawaiʻi

person in a dress and graduation cap
(Photo courtesy: Juliana Rogers)

Although Rogers is from Arizona, she has spent every summer since she was eight years old in Kailua-Kona on Hawaiʻi Island. Her father made the decision for their family to live part-time in Hawaiʻi after he caught a 500-pound marlin off the Kona coast in 2008, calling it a “sign.” Rogers attended the University of Arizona for two years before transferring to UH Mānoa.

“Careers are contingent on connections. I think a lot of what happens in business, especially here in Hawaiʻi, is based on not just who you know, but how you know them, and how you interact with the community,” Rogers said. “Shidler and UH Mānoa offer a web of incredible individuals to not only look up to but also to interact with. And I’ve been very blessed with being able to see interested members of the community expressing their interest in supporting Motion Management and its vision.”

Lifelong entrepreneur

Rogers says she was inspired by her parents, who pursued their own careers as entrepreneurs. In her youth, she spent time going door-to-door, selling hand drawn artwork and homemade cookies. In high school, she was inspired to sell coffee drinks to other students after seeing a coffee craving among her peers. And that entrepreneurial desire continued to grow.

“There’s something about creating something of value for the community and innovating that has always just lit my soul on fire,” Rogers said. “I love being able to create something out of nothing whether it be a business or a book or a photograph; I love just being able to capture something in a way that other people might not, or look at the world in a different lens.”

—By Marc Arakaki

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