Hawaii Startups Share Advice In Age Of Pandemic

Jun 26, 2020

In this economy, even well-established businesses feel like they need to start from scratch to stay alive.

We all know the numbers — Hawaii is missing what would normally be nearly 40,000 daily tourist arrivals and with more than 22% unemployment, and a certain amount of COVID-19 anxiety, kamaaina aren’t spending like usual either. In this environment, startup experts in Hawaii say local businesses should go back to the fundamentals.

Cut expenses and conserve capital, advises Chenoa Farnsworth, managing partner at Blue Startups. Working capital may be hard to come by for some time. In the meantime, businesses should be exploring lines of credit with their banks--learning about the many federal, state and even county relief loans and grants available.

For Meli James, co-founder of local product-accelerator Mana Up, times like these are when businesses should reexamine everything from products to branding to see if they still make sense. And enlist your customers to help. Survey them, engage with them online, even hold virtual focus groups to learn what they need from you now.

Dustin Sellers, managing partner of Koa Capital, says businesses also need to embrace tough decisions. It can be hard for a small business, where everyone is ohana, to lay people off, but keeping people on that you can’t afford now could mean laying off everyone if the business folds.