XLR8HI Launches Hawaiʻi's New Entrepreneurship Center

FEB 7, 2019
Hawaii Entrepreneurship Center - Hawaii Public Radio
Photo: Cloud Honolulu Meetup

A new entrepreneurship center is opening up in downtown Honolulu. HPR’s Reporter Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi got a preview of the space and a look at its plans.

Whether you’re a first time entrepreneur looking to jump start your business idea or an experienced founder aiming to hone your skills, XLR8HI hopes their space on the 18th floor of Pioneer Plaza in downtown Honolulu can be your go-to resource. 

“So that anyone who’s interested in innovation regardless of the stage of their company, the stage of their idea, has a resources to turn to,” says Omar Sultan, one of the founders of XLR8HI, a company designed to get Hawaiʻi startups up and running.  

Over the years they’ve helped hundreds of new businesses with workshops on financial fundamentals, how to pitch to investors, how to engage your audience.

“So we’ve been at this for about a decade, and we’ve seen the innovation ecosystem here grow and grow and grow,” says Sultan, “And one of the things that we have noted from people telling us in the community and people external to the community is kind of one of two things – Wow, I had no idea there was this much activity in Hawaiʻi or two, I have no idea where to turn to for support.”

That is the gap Sultan is hoping XLR8HIʻs new space can fill. Sultan was quick to explain that this is not a co-working space like Impact Hub or BoxJelly. Nor is this an incubation space like the new Sandbox being built in Kakaʻako. 

He says the role of an accelerator is to empower Hawaiʻi entrepreneurs by fostering a culture of innovation and providing the resources and community space where that can happen. 

“We truly believe that entrepreneurship is the future,” says Sultan, “If you think about some of the best ways for economic self-determinacy or self-sustainability or for people as individuals to become their own change agents, we truly that entrepreneurship is that pathway.”

Sultan says one of the biggest challenges to growing entrepreneurship opportunities in Hawaiʻi is corporate involvement– something the company found in a study a couple of years ago. 

“There are more and more startups graduating from those accelerators and the quality of those startups are increasing,” says Sultan, “However at the time we feared that there might be some sort of stall because there’s a large piece that’s missing and that piece was getting private involvement.”

He says there are a handful of corporate investors but Hawaiʻi needs full corporate involvement in order to make this ecosystem continue to grow. 

XLR8HI is hosting an Open House for its new space in Pioneer Plaza tonight at 5:30 p.m. For more information, click here