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Maui TechOhana delivers insights for entrepreneurs

A packed house gathered to network and listen to Michael Powers at the Feb. 6 Maui TechOhana event presented by the Maui Economic Development Board and Hawaii Technology Development Corp. The event sold out two weeks prior with huge interest by the Maui tech community to learn and absorb from the experience and talent of Powers, who created the concept of YouTube Channels.

Ninety-six small-business owners and entrepreneurs filled the conference room at HTDC’s Maui Research Technology Center after first networking in the Cohana space.

“I’m new to Maui and interested to see how to connect to others on the island,” said David Eder who works with University of Hawaii at the Maui High Performance Computer Center. “Tech is something that we can do remotely here on Maui and so it’s good to hear how we can connect virtually.”

Debbie Haugel, who is working on a new business, attended to get ideas on how to take the next step. “I’m interested in hearing about starting a business in Maui and I’m interested to meet Michael Powers, I’ve heard good things about him and wanted to get a chance to meet him.”

Powers talked story, sharing his path from Xerox to YouTube and beyond, including his wins and his losses. The angel investor told of his missed opportunities, often due to timing or business conflicts, to be involved with startup ideas such as Netscape, eBay, Minecraft and Zynga’s Farm-ville. He also shared the opportunities in marketplace platforms, like TaskRabbit, matching buyers and sellers.

Powers provided resources and tips for launching tech startups from Maui. The biggest opportunity he sees for Maui tech entrepreneurs are sites and apps with video subscriptions in a unique area of self-care. “You don’t have to be first, you just have to find the strongest approach,” advised Powers.

“It’s great and insightful meeting with a lot of excited and like-minded people,” said Danny Fast, who secured a seat at the last minute after being added to the waitlist. “I got some great ideas. I stumbled upon the event and because I want to build a website/app. I was interested to hear from someone with experience in this sector.”

Peter Lin found it very enlightening. “I’ve been meaning to do a startup for a while and didn’t know how, and so it was good information. If can start something in Hawaii and start before anyone else, it might be something worth thinking about.” Lin said his biggest takeaway was learning about what investors are looking for.

MEDB’s TechOhana meetings, supported by the county Office of Economic Development, provide an opportunity to share views and thoughts in an open forum with presentations on relevant topics in business and technology.

To learn more about Maui TechOhana events, go to www.mauitechohana.com.