Idea for innovative mobility device, inspired by a founder’s brother, wins UH business competition

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Krystal Lee, (808) 956-9524
Program Manager, Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship
Posted: Apr 27, 2019

After three intense rounds of competition, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Shidler College of Business Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) is pleased to announce that a team of biology, business and mechanical engineering students received first place honors in the 2019 UH Business Plan Competition (BPC), sponsored by American Savings Bank.

Four finalist teams representing the best early-stage student startup ideas at UH competed for prize packages totaling more than $40,000 in cash and in-kind awards on April 25, 2019, at the Waialae Country Club.

The results are:

FIRST PLACE – Prize package includes $10,000 cash and more than $19,500 in legal, marketing, and startup support services.

Team: G-Trainer – dedicated to the founder’s little brother who is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, this company designs walking assistive devices that incorporate self-stabilizing gyroscopic technology into its wheels for greater freedom and mobility for individuals with disabilities
Team members: Everett Amundson, Kendra Horvath, Jillian Kuba, and Austin Yoshino

Team leader contact: Austin Yoshino,

SECOND PLACE – Prize package includes $5,000 cash and more than $13,500 in legal, marketing, and startup support services.

Team: Dive Buddy – a local diving equipment and technology company specializing in providing tour companies with diver safety and diver identification products
Team members: Bradley Beeksma, Melody Leilani Kaohu, Isaac Lee, Zack Naqvi, and Nicholas Ulm

Team leader contact: Nicholas Ulm,

THIRD PLACE – Prize package includes $2,500 and more than $7,000 value in legal and marketing services.

Team: Okara Kitchen – a company that develops nutrient-dense, gluten-free pizza dough from repurposed tofu and soy milk byproduct
Team members: Jinan Banna and Asuka Suzuki

Team leader contact: Asuka Suzuki,

The finalists successfully advanced past 21 other teams, pouring hundreds of hours into interviewing potential customers, developing real traction for their new venture, writing a comprehensive business plan, and crafting a compelling pitch.

“Competitions such as this one, make a tremendous difference in our students’ college experience and in their lives,” said Peter Rowan, Executive Director of PACE. “I’m grateful to our generous sponsors who share our passion for nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators, and to the more than 60 business professionals who volunteered their time and energy as coaches, judges and instructors to make this real-world learning opportunity possible.”

The 2019 BPC title sponsor is American Savings Bank, and prize sponsors include HiBEAM (in memory of venture capital pioneer Billy Richardson), Pineapple Tweed, Sultan Ventures, the University of Hawaii Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, and Vantage Counsel.



The UH Business Plan Competition (BPC) is an intense, experiential program that provides a platform for University of Hawai‘i students and faculty who seek to learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur and start a business venture. Through the competition, participants practice the art of testing the feasibility of a business idea, developing a business plan, and pitching it to investors.

The BPC is one of 20+ programs offered by the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) at the Shidler College of Business. PACE offers mentorship, training and resources to all UH students and faculty, and its programs are designed to encourage entrepreneurial thinking across disciplines and inspire entrepreneurs to move their ideas from conceptualization to commercialization. 

Photo caption for “first-place-stage.jpg”

L to R: PACE Executive Director Peter Rowan, mechanical engineering student Austin Yoshino, business student Kendra Horvath, biology student Jillian Kuba, Shidler College of Business Dean Vance Roley, business student Everett Amundson, team co-coach Baolan Messinger, American Savings Bank First Vice President and Director of Communications and Community Advancement Michelle Bartell, American Savings Bank President and CEO Rich Wacker, and team co-coach Robert Nakata pose for a photo.