Accelerator Funding Update: Cha-ching!

Cash Money

HTDC published more details behind their funding of three local startup accelerators with $1.6 million in state funds. Mike Prasad’s Kinetiq Labs was awarded $700,000 total, as was Henk Roger’s Blue Startups. Darius “Bubs” Monsef’s Nalukai Foundation received $200,000. For the Kinetiq and Blue Startups awards, the bulk of the funds are to be used for investment, with a smaller portion to be used for operations. With Nalukai, it’s reversed, with a bit more of the State’s money going towards operations and smaller portion going towards investments, although their total award is much smaller than the others.

With only Kinetiq having an operational website, it’s difficult to learn more about each of their approaches. Prasad has a collection of startups listed and already launched and/or in progress, and they show considerable and diverse traction compared with the other two. He’s involved with web apps, magazines, and even bitters! As I’ve stated before, Hawaii needs a broad approach in my opinion, with tech as a small component, not the only focus. Keep an eye on Kinetiq, who has mostly flown below the local radar up until now.

Blue Startups, in addition to being partially funded by #5 on Hawaii’s Richest People list, also has Chenoa Farnsworth, the managing director of Hawaii Angels as its managing director (hmmm, conflict of interest?). Their website is still a “coming soon” page, and it remains to be seen if this team can run an accelerator and assemble the necessary skills, mentors, entrepreneurs, startup talent, and follow-on funding to build sustainable companies. They are expected to follow a TechStars accelerator model.

Nalukai is the most stealth of the bunch, but the founder, Bubs, has considerable experience running startups, raising VC money, and with accelerators in general. He’s an alumnus of Y Combinator and a mentor with 500 Startups and PIE PDX. He’s the only one to actually participate in a top-tier accelerator (let alone three), and knows firsthand how to create, build, and fund a real startup. Now, just like taking a history course doesn’t make you qualified to teach history, Bubs has no experience running an accelerator. But, given his network and his credibility, Nalukai has a great chance at success. From what we’ve heard, Bubs is taking an innovative approach to educating the local talent pool rather than just recreating a tech accelerator in Hawaii.

We’ll keep you posted…

Check out HTDC’s website for more info, but the crux is below:


At its board meeting on November 7, 2012, the HSDC Board of Directors decided to allocate funding to the following applicants to the LAVA Program:

  • Blue Startups: $200,000 in LAVA funds to support operations and $500,000 for an affiliated investment fund.
  • Kinetiq Labs: $200,000 in LAVA funds to support operations and $500,000 for an affiliated investment fund.
  • Nalukai Foundation: $120,000 in LAVA funds to support operations and $80,000 for an affiliated investment fund.

These allocations are contingent upon final due diligence, documentation, the commitment of matching funds, and the availability of funding. HSDC has set a deadline of January 31, 2013 to fund these allocations, but we are hopeful that the process will conclude much earlier.

We congratulate these 3 finalists and look forward to seeing these programs in operation. HSDC would like to thank all the applicants and participants in the LAVA RFI process. Your continued support and involvement in Hawaii’s entrepreneurial community will be key determinant of the success of the LAVA Program. More information on each of these accelerator programs will be provided at a future date.