Shrimp Shack, AP Solutions, Eats Easy win SEED to Sail competition | News

AT CNMI’s first-ever Supporting Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) to Sail Competition, Eddy Jos Shrimp Shack took home the Proa Award in the New Business category and won a $20,000 entry fee and automatic entry into the soon-to-be launched Northern competition Mariana’s College Incubator Program.

The Proa Award is presented to a company that is well positioned and rooted in its business plans and goals and is ready to sail to success and contribute to the local economy.

In a two-way tie, AP Solutions LLC dba MPay, MultiStore & Xpress; and Tech 5ive dba Eats Easy led the existing business category, each earning $15,000 in seed capital

Eddy Jo’s Shrimp Shack, owned by Donovan Jose Pinaula Castro, is inspired by its owner’s personal experience with a shrimp truck in Hawaii.

Castro graduated from the Culinary Arts program at the Northern Marianas Trades Institute and received Anthony Pellegrino’s Student Achievement Award.

Castro dreamed of becoming a chef from the age of eight and worked in various hotels around the island before taking up his current position in the nutrition department of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation.

While visiting Hawaii with his family, Castro fell in love with a spicy garlic shrimp platter and has fantasized about getting into the shrimp business ever since. He wants to own a shrimp shack and work with community members and local organizations to revitalize the local shrimp population.

2 steps ahead of the curve

AP Solutions LLC dba MPay, MultiStore & Xpress was founded by Perry Inos and Michael Sheu with a vision to be the premier service partner for their customers by bridging the technical gaps to grow innovative and enduring businesses.

It strives to stay two steps ahead of the curve, innovating and transforming organizations with digital solutions, technical advice and development.

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Inos holds a Masters in Business Administration and Accounting from Southern New Hampshire University, holds software certifications as a C++ developer and is trained by APIPA Audit.

He has over a decade of experience in technology, strategic planning, training, government relations, financial analysis, accounting, project planning, business development, corporate transformations, international exports, real estate development, and local and state regulatory, permitting, and licensing support Projects totaling over $100 million.

Sheu holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from Emory University and is a seasoned entrepreneur with management experience on projects totaling more than $24.5 million.

He is very familiar with regulations, requirements, challenges in project management, supply chain and logistics; and mobilizing and retaining manpower in the CNMI.

job creator

Tech 5ive dba Eats Easy was founded by Clint Albert.

After working with numerous people in different market economies, Albert with his Bachelors degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from De La Salle College in St Benilde founded Eats Easy to not only meet the needs of the local market for food delivery services but also Create jobs.

Eats Easy is also the recipient of the Inayik I Mane’e’ga’ or Viewer’s Choice Award, which earns an additional $500.

More winners

Saipan Studio took second place in the New Business category, receiving $10,000 in seed funding and the Tinanom Award.

“Tinanom” means “to plant” in Chamorro and represents the CNMI Small Business Development Center Network’s initiative to plant roots throughout Saipan, Tinian and Rota.

Saipan Studio is owned by Jiaxin Liang, a wife, mother and small business owner who moved to Saipan in 2016.

Liang has been dancing and teaching dance since she was four years old and brings her broad experience in performing arts and arts education to the CNMI.

She opened the studio in March this year to enlighten the future of so many young women through dance education.

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Liang enjoys performing and believes in lifelong education and growth.

In third place was BBQ in 6th place, which received the Dinneko Award and a $5,000 entry fee.

“Dinneko” means “sprout” in Chamorro.

6th Place BBQ is owned by Raymond Muna, a passionate Chamorro pit master who believes BBQ brings everyone at CNMI together.

Muna, the CNMI archivist at Northern Marianas College, plans to produce the best barbecue for the CNMI, a mix of Texas and local barbecue.

He’s a firm believer that anything grilled should be juicy, moist and fall off the bone. Grilling can temporarily solve all problems, he said.

Stemify and Chasing Sunsets, the two remaining entrants in the category, each received a cash prize of $500.

Stemify is led by Arnel Gruspe, a longtime resident of the CNMI with extensive experience in computing, information technology and industrial automation, who has worked in a variety of positions including a civilian clerk at the US Naval facility in Subic Bay.

The business objective of this new company is to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM to the members of the community, primarily the youth in the CNMI.

Chasing Sunsets is a family and locally owned business owned by Caroline Masga Agulto who hopes to build a food trailer business in the CNMI that can take her kitchen from one place to another.

The remaining competitor in the existing businesses category was Jo & Ha Investment LLC dba Plumeria Steakhouse, owned by Steve Jang, which won a $1,000 cash prize.

Jang also owns Ete Cafe, which is located right next to Plumeria Steakhouse on Beach Road in Garapan.

All eight contestants will each receive $250 in media coverage, promotions and advertisements courtesy of KKMP Radio.

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The contest judges were Donna Krum, Co-Owner of Paradise Dental Spa, Benjamin “Huk” Borja, Director and Business Advisor, Tinian SBDC, Kimberly C. Camacho, Executive Director, Saipan Chamber of Commerce, Jamin Dela Cruz, Faculty Member, NMC School of Business, University of Guam School of Business and Public Administration Associate Professor, Master of Public Administration Program Director and Regional Center for Public Policy Co-Founder and Director Dr. John J. Rivera, Loan Manager at the Bank of the Federated States of Micronesia Sailicia Nanpei, Joeten Daidai Foundation CEO Patty T. Palacios and local start-up founder Chris Nelson.

The event was made possible through the combined efforts of the CNMI SBDCN and the UOG Masters of Public Administration Class of 2023 cohort.

“It was our honor to offer our talented participants a platform to present their innovative pitches at our first SEED to Sail Signature event. We’re so proud of them all, but as every entrepreneur knows, the work doesn’t stop. We look forward to continuing to work with them on their new journey to see how far this program takes them,” said Nadine Deleon Guerrero, CNMI SBDCN Network Director.

“SEED to Sail has garnered so much attention within our entrepreneurial and business community that we remain motivated and excited to see where SBDC SEED to Sail will take us in 2023. Congratulations to all our participants and a big thank you to all our sponsors who made this event possible together with the CNMI SBDC,” she added.

The event sponsors are the CNMI Office of the Governor, Saipan Renal Care, Priority Care, Bank of Saipan, IT&E, Tan Siu Lin Foundation, NMC, UOG, KKMP Radio, Turnkey Solutions, Docomo Pacific, D&Q Distributors, WESTCO and the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers.

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