The fourth-annual student business competition, which included a written application and presentation to a panel of judges, was held Thursday at the Kahala Hotel & Resort. From a record nine participants, three finalists were chosen to present to an audience that included business and community leaders.
Neeley, who won for his co-founding role in the startup Rubi, is an undergraduate student majoring in business management at Brigham Young University (BYU) Hawaii. Rubi is the world’s first passive wearable pregnancy monitor, which allows parents to track the kick count and position of their baby from their mobile device.
“Every year there are 2.6 million stillbirths. Our goal is to provide early detection in an effort to inform expecting mothers when to check in with their baby so they can seek medical attention before it’s too late,” Neeley said. “It is an honor to be selected by EO Hawaii in this statewide qualifier, and I look forward to representing Hawaii on the national stage.”
Developed in 2017, the Rubi band is currently in a clinical study and beta test phase. Neeley said the company will also support healthy pregnancies in developing countries by donating Rubi bands to clinics worldwide.
Neeley will present during the U.S. national competition in Denver from Jan. 10-11, 2019. The national champion will attend the GSEA Finals in Macau, China, to compete with 50 of the world’s top student entrepreneurs and have a chance to win a prize package valued at more than $40,00.
The Willes Center said, “We are grateful for Nathan, the Rubi team and all of the hard work and effort that they have put into this new venture over the last year. Nathan and his student team have proven once again that BYU Hawaii has world-class students with great ideas and an amazing ability to execute on those ideas.”
The EO Hawaii GSEA qualifier prize package is valued at more than $5,000, including a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet/laptop computer; round-trip airfare on Alaska Airlines to the U.S. national competition; a full scholarship for an 8-week Dale Carnegie Training Course; a commercial printing and web design package from HONBLUE; branding advisement from Wall-to-Wall Studios; and business leadership and life coaching from locally renowned experts, including life coaching expert Ken Gilbert and the Simon Leadership Group.
“Nathan and his company Rubi have the potential to support healthier pregnancies for millions of women
worldwide,” said Scott Paul, a previous EO Hawaii GSEA chair who served as one of three judges at Thursday’s event. “The judges appreciated his personal connection and passion for Rubi, as both an expecting father and entrepreneur, and we look forward to his presentation in Denver.”
In addition to BYU Hawaii, the nine Hawaii student entrepreneur participants represented the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hawaii Pacific University, and Chaminade University. Tate Castillo of Kope Soap, a University of Hawaii at Manoa student, and Esther Lambright of Captured Imagery, a Chaminade University student, were also selected as finalists.
Previously, Rose Wong won the third-annual GSEA statewide qualifier for her Honolulu-based jewelry business Kolohe Ocean Gems, as an undergraduate student majoring in business marketing at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She opened the business in 2014 when she was 16 years old and sells her handmade pieces through her website, www.koloheoceangems.com, and at select retail locations.
All competition participants must be enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student at a college or university, and also be primarily responsible for the operation of a for-profit or revenue-generating business for at least six consecutive months. Eligibility requirements are available at www.gsea.org.
Hawaii National Bank, as part of its ongoing support of Hawaii entrepreneurs, was the title sponsor of the event. The bank offers tailored banking services and financing programs for locally owned businesses and shares advice from Hawaii entrepreneurs at entrepreneurs.hawaiinational.com.