“Guppy Tank” competition nets $3K for Vacation in a Box entrepreneurs


Payton Antonio, Staff Writer

If you’re too busy to travel or wish to sample local items prior to your vacation, Mid-Pacific’s entrepreneur students can help. They just won a $3,000 grand prize for designing Vacation in a Box.

The subscription based service will allow you to customize a box from the country of your choice. The winning students presented their business proposal at the school’s “Guppy Tank” competition on May 7. Similar to the television show “Shark Tank”, four student teams from Mid-Pacific’s Entrepreneurs Lab Program competed in front of investors for the chance to win money to expand their business.

“It was a lot of work to get the company together but it feels great to win,” said 11th grader Sage Driscoll, one of the four members of Travel in a Box.

Each team pitched their ideas to a panel of judges at the competition led by teacher Peter Rowan, who is an executive director for the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Manoa Shidler College of Business.

“I really enjoy watching my students grow as entrepreneurs from when they first entered the class and knew nothing about how to run a business,” said Rowan.

In the fall semester, Entrepreneurs Lab students generated their own ideas by researching background, producing customer surveys, and creating a business plan to support their ideas. In the spring semester, the students made a final decision on which idea they felt would be most successful and teamed up with a mentor to help guide them in the right direction.

“I am most proud of my students for interviewing more than 2,000 potential customers over this past year,” said Rowan.

Quickscan, an application that turns any refrigerator into a smart refrigerator claimed the second place prize of $1,000 to launch their idea. The refrigerator will allow users to track contents, expiration dates, nutritional information and recipe ideas.

“Standing up in front of professional and experienced entrepreneurs made it nerve racking, but it was an exciting competition to be a part of,” said 11th grader Trelani McGill, an Entrepreneurs Lab student.

The Charles B. Wang Foundation sponsored the competition.

“The experience of fostering teamwork and collaborating with my team was the best part,” said 12th grader Mana Kitamura, one of the four members of Quickscan.

Driscoll said in her presentation that her inspiration came from her grandfather, who recently stopped traveling to care for his wife. She said she wanted to find a way for him to still enjoy the feeling of traveling.

“I didn’t even know Sage thought of me, but it was really great to be a part of her team’s idea,” said Murray Bawden, Driscoll’s grandfather.

Driscoll and team members 11th grader Sophie Saiki, 11th grader Milan Salle and 11th grader Brianna Wong will be looking into furthering their Vacation in a Box idea in the next few classes.

“Entrepreneurs Lab is not another class. It is a way for students to work and experience working with the real world,” said Rowan.