“There are so many opportunities out there to start a business, there are endless resources especially as students. As long as you manage the risk and are smart about how you start, almost any decent idea, if executed correctly ,can be profitable. Just go and try it, you learn a lot and it’s fun.”
Kalin Uluave- SoDa Bomb
SoDa Bomb, Best Mixed Drinks On the Island!
Kalin Uluave, a student here at BYU-Hawaii , is the proud owner of “Soda Bomb” located in the Polynesian Cultural Center. Kalin and his wife Kiana are the people behind Laie’s greatest sweet treat treasure. They proudly serve delicious mixed drinks and homemade sweet treats to locals, students and tourists who stop by the Polynesian Cultural Center. Kalin described Soda Bomb as, “We are a food truck that sells baked good and unique mixed sodas! We are located at the Polynesian Cultural Center.”.
Kalin has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and a determination to start his own company. He has participated in the Great Ideas and Empower Your Dreams competitions several times and has won various prizes. When asked what inspired him to start his company he responded, “My wife and I saw the mixed soda business while living in Utah so we dreamed of starting one in Hawaii. We want to stay in Hawaii long term so we needed a reason to stay, and owning a business is a great reason!” They saw the success that other people had on the mainland with mixed drinks and brought this idea to the island. Many students who are from Utah are so happy to see a taste of home on the islands! It has been a huge success when introduced to tourist and community members as well. Kiana is from Laie, so they wanted to create a business that would allow them to stay on the North Shore of Oahu.
Kalin and Kiana have seen tremendous success with their business, but have also seen their fair share of challenges. When asked what the greatest challenges they have faced in starting a business Kalin responded, “PAPERWORK! There is so much paperwork to fill out. Business license, GE tax license, Food handlers license, employment papers, wholesale papers, just so much paperwork! There is so much that goes on in a business that I didn’t know before starting, the actually selling of product is just a small portion.”. This is insightful for students who are wanted to start a business, but do not understand the work that goes into it.
Kalin was able to navigate through this experience with the help of this mentor from the Brigham Young University Hawaii Willes Center. Kalin stated, “Jason Earl is my mentor. He helped me so much to figure out how to do all that paperwork! Also he helped me understand a business plan, how to price product to make a profit, how to negotiate. He was super helpful and still is today!”. Finding a mentor is so important when starting a business! The staff at the Willes Center for Entrepreneurship are always willing to help get students dreams off the ground. Stop by the Willes Center for help of you are planning on starting your own entrepreneurial endeavor.
Kalin and his wife, Kiana, would love to start more businesses in the future. Kalin said, “There is something very fulfilling about selling a product/service that you create. I am always looking for ideas and opportunities to create new ventures.” Kalin Uluave also says that running his own business has taught him so much about life. He states, “ It has taught me a lot of lessons for sure, one of which is being discipline. Sometimes i have to do stuff I don’t want to do, or work when I don’t want too, but if you are the owner you have to do those things.” When you are the owner you never truly have the day off. It takes a lot of hard work and disciple to keep a business thriving.
When asked what he has learned from creating your own business he responded. “ How to sell, negotiate, more accurately forecast sales, how to manage employees, etc. There are just so many things I’ve learned that the list is endless. It is a fantastic experience. Kalin said if he could go back and do something differently he would have started sooner. “I have been really lucky to have amazing employees that have made everything easier for me. I would have started earlier if I could have! But really, I wish I would have sat down with my mentor earlier and learn about how cash flow works. It took me about 2 months into the business before I had a real good grasp on how our cash flow worked. We probably could have saved/made more money in those first 2 months, but it was a great learning experience.
Soda Bomb has also impacted the lives of many in our community. Kalin said, “I hope it brings people together. Because we have a physical location we often get students out on date night or families coming for family home evening, it’s really fun to see local community members sit on the benches outside our truck and laugh and have a good time.”
He credits a lot of his success within his business to the resources provided by the Willes Center. Kalin stated, “ I won the Empower your dreams competition in May 2016 (with a different idea), but I used those funds to help start the business. All of my classes were super helpful, from supply chain, to cash flow, to management. They all gave me a fundamental understanding of how to run a business. I went back to all those professors and asked for their help and advice as we started.” When asked what advice he has for all aspiring young entrepreneurs he responded, “There are so many opportunities out there to start a business, there are endless resources especially as students. As long as you manage the risk and are smart about how you start, almost any decent idea, if executed correctly ,can be profitable. Just go and try it, you learn a lot and it’s fun.” He encourages students to use the resources the school provides such as past teacher, competitions and networking connections on campus.
Soda Bomb is set apart from their competition because they are located in the Polynesian Cultural Center. Uluave said, “Being at a very touristy location and being the only ones allowed to sell mixed drinks is awesome. There is a lot of foot traffic from tourists, and being able to be so close to students and locals is huge too, they are the lifeblood to our business. WE LOVE STUDENTS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS!!”. Soda Bomb is successful today because of students and the community members. Support your local business and give Soda Bomb a visit!