What is Nalukai? An Overview of Nalukai 2017.

In a spirited classroom among the rolling Waimea hills, an intriguing scene unfolded. Student voices bounced off each other in engaged discussions on the identity and brand of their companies. This was the beginning of an intense ten-day journey for a small group of budding designers, programmers, creators, and entrepreneurs.

Nineteen high school students from across the Hawaiian Islands came together last July at Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy on the Big Island for the second annual Nalukai Academy Startup Camp. This exciting ten-day camp, which is entirely free to the Hawai’i high school students who are selected, teaches entrepreneurship, technology, digital storytelling, and design incubation. Nalukai aims to inspire the next generation of collaborative, visionary, and business-centered professionals.

    Through a combination of workshops with industry entrepreneurs, interviews with venture capitalists, group projects, and fun activities, students engaged in conversations ranging on topics from developing confidence in public speaking to the importance of creating a consistent brand and identity. Local entrepreneurs, business school alumni, and seasoned Silicon Valley all-stars shared personal anecdotes about their experiences in the field with the goal of giving aspiring Hawai’i entrepreneurs some shortcuts to success. Students, equipped with new learnings and skills then applied them to creating their own startup ventures.    

    On the third day of camp teams of students received their “offer”, a problem-space prompt that tasked teams to develop their own unique solutions. The plain manilla envelope which enclosed their offers were greeted with mixed feelings of apprehension and excitement as students began to develop different ideas on how to approach the task.  Over the duration of the camp, these offers transformed into coherent businesses with diverse topics from an online service connecting students to mentors to a marketplace for recycled goods.

By the end of the camp students were closely connected: bonds forged in the fires of intense rigor, late nights, and one project-planning “sprints”. An atmosphere of genuine encouragement, good humor, and productivity had emerged. These memories–from both inside and outside of the classroom–define Nalukai as an inspiring environment to connect, learn and create with like minded individuals.


David Clarke