Startup Paradise

These fledging tech businesses are getting a kick start thanks to a venture accelerator started by Henk Rogers. Yes, the Henk Rogers of Tetris fame.

Starting a new business can be daunting—enter Blue Startups. This venture accelerator, based in downtown Honolulu, incubates new tech-based businesses, providing them with everything they need to get off the ground, and hopefully succeed.

How it works: Prospective businesses apply to Blue Startups. Those chosen are then given $20,000 up front, in exchange for a 6 percent stake in the company, and go through a three-month incubation. The accelerator provides one-on-one mentorship and weekly training sessions, on topics such as building financials and attracting capital. At the end, there’s a demo day, at which each business presents itself to outside investors.

“It’s not just about the money,” says managing director Chenoa Farnsworth. “It’s about the connections, the networking and being able to speed up their time to market … We’re really trying to get Hawai‘i on the map as a startup destination, a startup paradise.”

Eight startups just hatched from their incubation; Blue Startups is already accepting applications for round two. Here are four we found particularly interesting:


A website bridging the gap between tea growers and tea drinkers. Subscriptions are available for customers and, says Rechung Fujihira, the Blue Startups program associate of strategic partnerships, because of the accelerator, Tealet will soon sell to retailers.


Aptly aims to create a number of apps “to help people become more thoughtful,” says Fujihira. The first one is Minded, which keeps tracks of important events such as birthdays or anniversaries and sends users tailored gift suggestions based on the person’s profile.


This mobile app will remove the costs and inefficiencies of tow-truck dispatch centers for motorists in distress.

logos: courtesy blue startups

Water stations where, for a fee, you can fill up your water bottle, instead of buying a bottle of Aquafina.

Blue Startups isn’t the only accelerator in town. Kinetiq Labs, in Kakaako, will be announcing its first round of five to seven tech-based startups this month.