East Meets West 2019 — Recap

By Brittany Lieu

EMW’19 Speakers & AttendeesHawaii’s Startup Event of the Year

Hawaii’s Startup Event of the Year

Welcoming over 400 attendees including investors and entrepreneurs, the East Meets West 2019 conference from January 31 to February 1st is Hawaii’s startup event of the year. Hosted by Blue Startups, the nexus of entrepreneurial activity here in paradise, the 5th annual global conference is a cultural melting pot of entrepreneurial spirit.

Featuring the finest industry experts, EMW’19 bridged the East and West with its diverse and influential lineup of guest speakers. In addition to our local entrepreneurs, investors and speakers from throughout the region, including Hong Kong, New Zealand, Korea, Taiwan, China, and Japan, were also in attendance to share their unique global perspectives. From opening remarks with Governor Ige of the State of Hawaii to the Fireside Chat with Hans Tung of GGV Capital, the Keynote with Patrick Lee from Rotten Tomatoes, and even a panel breakout with Max Holloway, UFC Champion, EMW’19 expanded the idea of entrepreneurship beyond both Hawaii and the tech industry.

Exploring a variety of topics within the realm of all things startup, speakers and attendees joined the discussion on timely subject matters from sustainability to the power of social influencers.

Here is an overview of the main themes discussed at EMW’19:

Panel Discussions:

  • ‘Women investing in Women,’
  • ‘Sustainability — Hawaii Leads the Way’

Breakout Sessions:

  • ‘Visions of Hawaii — Sector Strengths and Indigenous Innovation,’
  • ‘Innovators and Influencers — The Influencers and Cross Border Innovation,’
  • ‘Entrepreneurs Bootcamp — Scaling Up and Going Global’

In this recap, we will include descriptions of panels and breakout sessions. We will also spotlight the Startup Showcase, the participating venture capitalists, and companies.


Panels Discussions

[Panel #1: Women Investing In Women]

‘Women Investing in Women’ — Full panel of leading women venture capitalist

Hearing from the leading ladies of major venture capital firms, including Margot Shmorak of Hostfully, Kendra Ragatz of Aspect Ventures, Holly Liu of Y Combinator, and Rebecca Lynn of Canvas VC and moderated by Blue Startup’s Maya Rogers, the first panel of the day laid all the gender issues on the table.

Diving into their own personal experiences navigating and leading the world of venture capitalist, these women share and discuss the gender-specific challenges they do and have encountered. Check out our blog post ‘Women Investing in Women — It’s About Time’ for more about what this all-female panel dove into.

[Panel #2: Sustainability — Hawaii Leads the Way]

Amy Brinker and Lorraine Akiba on stage
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Moderated by Amy Brinker of Kamehameha Schools, this panel discussed ‘How can Hawaii innovate to better reduce and reuse the waste we produce?’ Lorraine Akiba of Blue Planet Foundation, Scott Valentino of Pacific Current, Greg Gaug of Ulupono Initiative, and Daniel Barrett of Volta Charging all chime in to share their opinions on a greener Hawaii.

Wrapping up EMW’19 with the closing panel discussion

[Closing Panel : Bridging East and West]

Where is innovation coming from: The West or the East? In the last panel discussion of EMW’19, guest speakers Chenoa Farnsworth (moderator) of Blue Startups, Hans Tung of GGV Capital, Stephen Forte of Fresco Capital, Wissam Otaky of Hatcher+, and Casey Lau of the RISE Conference bring the conference to a close. Addressing the underlying theme of the day, these successful venture capitalist reiterate the purpose of EMW’19 and the importance of building a cross-cultural bridge.

Breakout Sessions: Visions of Hawaii

Sector Strengths & Indigenous Innovation

‘Visions of Hawaii — Sector Strengths’ — Panel speakers

What makes Hawaii special? How can we perserve what makes our home special?

Guest speakers in the two breakout sessions dedicated to discussing ‘Visions from Hawaii’ address why and how Hawaii continues to be a startup paradise. From our limited resources to our greatest strengths, Hawaii becomes the heart of the conversation. In both sessions, we hear from a variety of speakers of all different professional backgrounds including Steve Petranik (moderator) of Hawaii Business Magazine, Meli James of Mana Up, Dawn Lippert of Elemental Excelerator, Corey Blake of MWI, Tina Fitch of HobNob, and Vassilis Syrmos of the University of Hawaii, Stacy Ferriera (moderator)and Ryan “Gonzo” Gonzalves of Kamehameha Schools, Keoni Lee of WaiWai Collective, Donavan Kealoha of Startup Capital Ventures, Kokiri Startup Accelerator, Kiana Frank of the University of Hawaii, and Herb Lee of the Pacific American Foundation.

Breakout Sessions: Innovators and Influencers

The Influencers & Cross Border Innovation

Max Holloway, UFC Champion pictured with EMW’19 attendees

In the new age of the internet, influencers and cross border innovation speaks to a global audience. Dedicated to discussing this topic in two different breakout sessions, EMW’19 welcomed guest speakers including Toni Paracuelles (moderator) of Mobi, Pete Chen of Pixery, Max Holloway UFC Champion, Dillion Morgan of UNUM, Maya Rogers (moderator) of Blue Startups, Devin Ehrig of Shadow Factory, Holly Liu of Y Combinator, and Shelley Zhuang of 11.2 Capital.

Check out some of the presentations below!

‘Entrepreneurs Bootcamp — Going Global’ Panel Speakers

Breakout Sessions: Entrepreneurs Bootcamp

Scaling Up & Going Global

The last set of breakout sessions addressed topics in startup growth and global expansion. Led by speakers from both the U.S. West Coast and East Asia, including Pat Riley (moderator) of Global Accelerator Network, Lawrence Hester of FareHarbor, Jesse Middleton of Flybridge Capital, Tony Blank of Send Grid, Casey Lau (moderator) RISE Conference, Eugene Kim of SparkLabs, Jeffrey Paine of Golden Gate Ventures, Oscar Ramos of Chinaccelerator, and Elisa Chiu of Anchor Taiwan.

Check out the presentation below!

The Grand Finale — Startup Showcase

It wouldn’t be the startup event of the year without a full fledge pitch-off. Showcasing up and coming startups from both the East and the West, including Aiooki, Dataplor, Fanalyze, Instant Teams, Luna2, Pixery, Shakaguide and Souco, the Startup Showcase was the perfect opportunity for startups to garner more investor attention.

Judging, are acclaimed venture capitalist Hans Tung of GGV Capital, John Frankel of ff Venture Capital, Ammar Hanafi of Moment Ventures, Kendra Ragatz of Aspect Ventures, Stephen Forte of Fresco Capital, and Jim Kim of Builders VC.

Check out our separate blog post on ‘East Meets West 2019 — Startup Showcase Highlight’ to read up more on our winner dataPlor!

Find out More

Where can you find out more about East Meets West 2019? Check out our website for more details and EMW’18 highlights! Also, check out our blog posts on EMW’19 for more food for thought.

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Day 2 of EMW’19 with some of the investors and entrepreneurs at the Sheraton Waikiki, Honolulu