Mana Up portfolio companies look beyond Hawaii for revenue boost

September 24, 2021


Hawaii-based product accelerator Mana Up on Thursday released a survey of its portfolio businesses showing a revenue boost in 2020 compared to 2019, in large part due to e-commerce and Mainland channels during the coronavirus pandemic.

Aggregate revenue from 47 Mana Up cohort alumni companies was $43.4 million last year, compared to $36 million in 2019 among the same companies. Average annual revenue was $923,290 in 2020, up 18.6% from $766,396 in 2019.

Fifty-three percent of the Hawaii-based companies grew in revenue. The ones that had a strong online presence fared better in the first calendar year of the pandemic than did ones with traditional brick-and-mortar reliance, noted Mana Up, which specializes in Island-based consumer brands.

“By utilizing e-commerce and establishing Mainland U.S. and international sales channels, we’ve found that locally owned businesses can earn significant revenue from out of state – which gives us an industry that doesn’t solely depend on tourism but leverages the global love for Hawaii," said Meli James, co-founder of Mana Up, in a statement. "We can build on these strategies to grow jobs, profitability and new ways to support complementary industries such as agriculture."

An outward-facing perspective was essential as tourism dollars went away.

Upward of $18.5 million of the $43.4 million in 2020 revenue for the Mana Up companies — 42.6% of the total — was earned from sales beyond Hawaii, according to Mana Up. Sixty-nine percent of the respondents conducted 50% or more of their business via e-commerce in 2020, up from 40% of companies in 2019.

Mohala Eyewear, for example, shifted its business from 40% direct-to-consumer in 2019 to 95% in 2020, contributing to a 129% revenue growth.

Growth rates were adversely affected by the pandemic overall. Median annual growth rate was 17.6% in 2020 compared to 25.3% in 2019 and the mean annual growth rate was 65% from 142%.

Mana Up companies received at least $4.29 million in grants and PPP loan funding in 2020. The 47 companies comprised 315 jobs in the Islands.

Mana Up has put on six cohorts to date, with the most recent batch of 12 announced in May.

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