Mana Up announces next cohort in its local business accelerator

June 17, 2024

Mana Up announces next cohort in its local business accelerator


Local business accelerator Mana Up has announced its ninth cohort of local entrepreneurs.

Since 2017, Mana Up has helped 85 Hawaiʻi entrepreneurs to mature and expand. The accelerator, co-founded by Meli James and Brittany Heyd, is geared toward businesses that produce physical products for retail sales.

The companies it has helped so far now employ nearly 900 total people and are growing at a mean rate of 33% annually.

Mana Up
Mana Up has supported some of Hawaiʻi's notable brands, such as Mānoa Chocolate, Coco Moon, Ubae and more.

Mana Up selected its ninth cohort of product-based businesses from among a record-breaking 163 applicants. The 10 companies will now complete a six-month boot camp in business growth, complete with workshops, mentoring and coaching. They will also receive nuts-and-bolts advice on such things as distribution and e-commerce.

The cohort includes businesses making and selling a wide range of products.

Kauai Hemp Co., for example, is a vertically integrated hemp farm that grows plants and produces CBD products. It joined Mana Up with a goal of tripling its sales and expanding to Japan.

Maui-based To Be Organics is the brainchild of Karli Rose Wilson, who has a personal passion for bath and body products that are easy on the skin.

One cohort member looked at a big problem in Hawaiʻi and saw a business opportunity. Christine and Joey Valenti launched the Albizia Project in 2017 with the idea of turning this invasive species of fast-growing trees into surfboards. Their goals are to expand statewide and then internationally.