The HVCA Awards Gala
Hawai‘i boasts an active Startup Paradise ecosystem, an environment where innovation and collaboration thrive. Since its founding in 1988, the Hawaii Venture Capital Association has fostered entrepreneurial development in this industry through education and exposure to key members of the startup community.
With the fast-paced nature of startups, taking time to recognize accomplishments and celebrate success is often overlooked. For the 16th year in a row, the Hawaii Venture Capital Association paused for a night to host the HVCA Awards Gala, which recognizes the accomplishments of 10 influential leaders in the startup community. This year’s Investor of the Year and Startup Paradise Champion of the Year awards bring to light two individuals whose personal and financial commitments to building the foundations of Hawai‘i’s innovation environment have led to the growth and success of the startup ecosystem as a whole.
American Savings Bank President and CEO Richard Wacker received the 2015 Investor of the Year award. Wacker is not only backing entrepreneurial efforts, but also actively leading the charge to grow the innovation community, supporting students in high school business classes all the way to university scientists. He has sponsored and been involved with almost every Startup Paradise Demo Day over the last three years and serves on a number of boards that engender innovation and community, such as XLR8UH, the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship, Chaminade University’s Board of Regents, the University of Hawai’i Foundation, the Executive Committee of the Hawaii Business Round table and the Innovation Subcommittee.
Senator Glenn Wakai was honored as the Startup Paradise Champion of the Year for his efforts supporting, promoting and building a successful startup culture and ecosystem in Hawai‘i. Senator Wakai’s dedication to economic development and innovation is extensive. He has been instrumental in securing important legislation to help the state’s budding startup ecosystem grow and begin to flourish. A true champion of innovation in Hawai‘i, Senator Wakai serves as the chair of the Senate’s Committee on Economic Development and Technology, vice chair of the Committee on Health and is a member of the Committees on Agriculture, Commerce and Consumer Protection, and Higher Education and the Arts.