The Purple Prize Building Phase


The Building Phase is a 3-month, mentor-driven innovation competition geared toward helping mission-driven startups optimized for community abundance and regeneration build their product, launch their business, go to market, and become investment ready.


See Past Purple Prize CohortsApply Now!

Who do we work with?

We work with entrepreneurs and teams with businesses or business concepts that

1.   Are early stage

2.   Are technology-based

3.   Promise a measurable, positive social or environmental impact

4.   Are rooted in or are explicitly promoting Hawaiian or indigenous values through the team’s product, business model, or leadership.

Only 12 teams will be admitted into the Building Phase. Applications open on April 1.



Mentors play a significant role in the Building Phase of the Purple Prize. Teams will be placed with at least one mentor based on what teams identify as fundamental needs for conscious, fast growth. Mentors come from diverse areas of expertise and are highly experienced in their respective industries. These mentors will be able to help you with product development, finding and establishing market fit, troubleshooting technical challenges, and providing valuable introductions to help take your business from concept to market.

Workshops and Events

Collaboration, learning, networking, and community engagement are core to the Building Phase process. Each of our workshops are consciously designed to accelerate the development of your social enterprise. Scroll down to see the calendar.


Incubation funding: Building Phase teams will have the opportunity to request up to $2,000 throughout the Building Phase by submitting a proposal. 

Award funding: Building Phase teams compete at Demo Day for performance-based awards. Not convertible notes. Not debt investments. Think of these awards as allowance for you to keep building an incredible company.



Workshops and Events

What happens in the Building Phase?


During the Building Phase teams will reach several milestones and complete major deliverables critical to business formation.

Aug. 3 Aug. 10 Aug. 17 Sept. 13 Sept. 21
Draft Business Plan Completed Alpha Prototype of Product or Service Built Beta Prototype of Product or Service Built Final Business Plans Completed Pitch Deck Assembled and Pitch Given

To help teams to reach these milestones, we offer four educational/practical workshops on topics like intellectual property, advanced business planning and fundamentals, and pitching for investment. We also organize a unique Community Open House where we invite diverse members of the community to test and give feedback to teams. 

Throughout the Building Phase of the Purple Prize, teams will also have access to Wonder, a research service that provides access to the intellect and fact-finding skills of a distributed network of researchers around the world. Having access to this service will serve as a major benefit when conducting a market and impact analysis.

We conclude the Purple Prize with a Demo Day where teams give five-minute pitches to a panel of judges.

The judges will choose first, second, and third place winners of major monetary prizes. Members of community who attend the Demo Day will also vote on a People’s Choice Award recipient.

Demo Day, however, is not the end of the Purple Prize journey for teams. We continue to advise, provide growth opportunities, and provide resources to our teams monetarily, technically, and by brokering strategic connections. 


The Purple Prize doesn’t end on Demo Day. We help teams throughout the life of their startup and beyond with guided, performance-based goal setting; advice; connections; invitations to future Purple Prize workshops; and sometimes future funding opportunities.

The Purple Prize is known for relationships formed by teams and individuals. Our community is a family, growing every year with each Purple Prize. Join us!

Spotlight: Native Stories

Before coming across the Purple Prize, Nohealani Hirahara had an idea to create a resource for pilina–or connection to place–where the voices and stories of those of and connected to the ʻāina (land) are accessible for all. After experiencing some fundraising difficulty, Nohealani joined the Purple Prize 2017 cohort. It was through the Purple Prize where her idea was able to flourish into Native Stories, an audio content platform and production house focused on providing access to authentic stories and experiences of people, places and perspectives that came before us. Connecting with skilled individuals from the technology industry, idea mapping and going out into the field to meet and speak with kupuna, brainstorming with fellow Purple Prize teammates to refine and build upon her idea were a few of the key learning experiences she credits to the Purple Prize. Native Stories was recently awarded a grant from Kamehameha Schools and has just launched their mobile app! 

Are you a Student, Faculty, or Staff member at the University of Hawaiʻi?

If you are interested in learning more and participating, email us at

We recognize the most game-changing innovations are rarely products of imitation, so in addition to incentivizing the creation of indigenously-rooted, technology startups, we are interested in supporting research projects with the hopes of commercializing the outcomes of the research in businesses that align with our core principles.

Researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi may participate in the Building Phase of the Purple Prize conducting their research while gaining the knowledge needed to conceptualize and pursue the commercial application of their research.

Events and Workshops

June 29

Kickoff Day of Building Phase

The Building Phase begins with the conclusion of the Connections Phase.

July 13

Business Fundamentals and Social Entrepreneurship

Teams must have fundamental business skills and an understanding of the social enterprise ecosystem to be successful in this increasingly competitive space. 

August 10

Prototype Testing

This private workshop will allow teams to showcase their prototypes and get valuable feedback.

August 17

Community Open House

Community should be at the center of product or venture design so we welcome the community to test teams’ prototypes, and give feedback.

September 7

Pitch Practice Workshop

Teams learn to pitch, how to “ask,” and how to talk to investors before Kilo Hōkū.

September 21

Final Kilo Hōkū

The 2019 Purple Prize comes to a close. Teams pitch their startups to a panel of judges who decide who wins the Purple Prize!

A Special Thanks to Our Sponsors

Minami Comunity Foundation