For Lauren Primiano, head of venture funds at mbloom, being a member of the Chinatown, Honolulu Real Office Centers location is about more than just having a space to work — it is about being part of a vibrant local startup community.
mbloom, a venture capital fund that launched in 2014, has a strong focus on funding and supporting startup technology companies in the state of Hawaii.
“We’re an early-stage venture fund, and we are the only such fund that is focused on the Hawaiian market,” Primiano says. “Part of the reason for our existence is that we’re funded by partial public funds, as well as private funds. We have money from the state of Hawaii, which was invested as opposed to a grant in us, to show that the state has an equitable share in our fund, just as any other private investor would.”
Some members of mbloom’s portfolio include Fanhandle,a personal brand engagement company; Ozolio, a high definition webcam streaming service; ReadyCart, a commerce revenue program; and Vantage Sports, an analytical tool for athletes and sports programs.
Primiano and her colleagues at mbloom have already noticed a strong surge in the local startup scene since starting two years ago.
“Hawaii is not a Silicon Valley in any regards, but over the last few years, there has been a lot of activity in the startup community here,” she says. “We have a number of accelerator programs, many of which are nationally recognized, that we work with closely.”
An accelerator program is a mentorship and education-based incubator for technology startups, with an end goal of receiving funding from sources like mbloom. Many of the accelerator programs in Honolulu are located in Chinatown, near the ROC location where mbloom has offices.
“Being in ROC Honolulu is a great location for us because we are in walking distance of all of these different accelerator programs,” Primiano says. “I just had coffee with an entrepreneur that is right down the street from ROC, and sometimes people come here as well.”
In fact, the ROC Honolulu Chinatown location is so steeped in startup culture that Primiano started a “startup paradise” tour for the Honolulu: East Meets West technology conference.
“We’re really excited to bring that community of people into our environment, and especially into ROC to showcase all of the different tenants,” Primiano says.
The startup tour is just one example of how mbloom seeks to foster community within the Hawaiian startup scene.
“We also host an annual event in Maui called MaiTai Maui Tech Night,” Primiano says. “That is another really good platform for the local startup scene to connect with resources, tech executives and investors.”
The fourth annual MaiTai Maui Tech Night will take place June 14th from 5pm – 10pm. You can register here.
MaiTai Maui Tech Night is a featured event by MaiTai Global, a group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, tech executives and entrepreneurs, in partnership with mbloom, a venture capital fund rooted in Hawaii’s Startup Paradise community. It is a signature event of MaiTai Maui, an exclusive 4-day kiteboarding retreat for MaiTai Global members.
Since the first event in 2013, MaiTai Maui Tech Night has grown to now attract over 300 attendees including Hawaii-based entrepreneurs and investors, and prominent Silicon Valley investors as well as other founders and tech executives from around the country.
In two short years, mbloom has made a splash in the Hawaiian startup market, and Primiano and her colleagues look forward to continue fostering innovation.
“We are just one piece of the puzzle,” says Primiano, “in terms of all of the different startup activity here.”
MaiTai Maui Tech Night will take place June 14th from 5pm – 10pm. Get tickets!