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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Event links firms, venture capitalists

By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer

It's not everyday that an entrepreneur can walk into a room with hopes of landing millions of dollars in investment capital, but that's what Rob Sanford and executives for six other Hawai'i companies will do tomorrow.

Sanford, chief executive for Kapa'a, Kaua'i-based Best Places on Earth, and others representing their firms will each get 10 minutes to make their most convincing sales pitch to venture capitalists, angel investors and corporations during the Wayne Brown Institute's fifth annual Investors Choice Conference at the Turtle Bay Resort.

Almost 20 Hawai'i companies have gone on to raise about $30 million via the annual conference, including such companies as Hawaii Biotech and Hoku Scientific, according to organizers.

Hawai'i companies represented at the two-day conference that starts today include:

  • Best Places on Earth, an Internet-based company that connects tourists with local hotels and other services.
  • San Francisco-based 4Charity, which works with businesses to increase charitable giving and volunteer work. The company has a Honolulu office.
  • Honolulu startup company Landmark Networks, now known as Firetide Inc. The company sells wireless networking products.
  • Honolulu-based Hoana Medical, which makes medical imaging devices.
  • Honolulu-based fuel cell component maker Hoku Scientific will present for a second straight year.
  • Phase Inc. in Honolulu. The company is developing water purifying systems and components.
  • Nanopoint Inc. in Honolulu. Nanopoint is developing cellular imaging products for disease research.

Participating companies paid a $195 fee to have their business plans reviewed and a $500 event registration fee.

They also received tutoring on how to fine-tune their presentation for investors. After their pitches, companies will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with potential investors.

It is the first time Best Places on Earth will seek venture capital, as it attempts to secure $5.5 million to finance a rollout of its Hawai'i-based Web site into Mainland and overseas markets. The company hopes to at least gain greater exposure if not investment capital, Sanford said.

"Basically, we're putting the company in play and putting the investor community on notice," he said.

In addition to the seven companies with local ties, another nine Mainland and international companies are hoping to interest investors at the conference. Brad Bertoch, president of the event's main sponsor, the Wayne Brown Institute, said the goal is to increasingly feature local companies.

Reach Sean Hao at shao@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8093.

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