During the first weekend of 2021, Island Brew Coffeehouse hosted its first bubble tea fundraiser, selling two flavors of boBATea, created by Punahou’s Maddy Hodge ’23. The goal of boBATea was to raise money for the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat – ope’ape’a – the only native Hawaiian land mammal. Profits were donated to the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center, which cares for injured or sick Hawaiian hoary bats. All of the boBATea sold out, raising more than $360 ($155 in tips).
Hodge conceptualized the project as part of a Punahou class, the Art of Entrepreneurship, a new course designed by Mark Loughridge, director of Punahou’s Case Accelerator for Student Entrepreneurship (CASE), and Ralph Pascucci, department head of Academy Art. “I had so much fun in class, and it made me realize that if I truly wanted to take action on what I was passionate about and make a difference in the world, then the opportunity was right there in front of me,” Hodge said.
To launch the effort, she set up meetings with Pei-Yu Baez, one of the owners of Island Brew, who agreed to host the fundraiser at the cafe’s Hawai‘i Kai location. It took more than two months for Hodge to order ingredients, find a supplier of compostable bioplastics and arrange for a partnership with the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center. “There is a lot more work put into running a business than I realized,” Hodge said. “But I’m glad I got the experience of organizing an event for a cause that I’m passionate about.”
Loughridge said it’s rare to have a “blowout success.” “That’s really an achievement that Maddy should celebrate,” he said. “On her first venture, she was able to negotiate a deal that was a win-win and get her product out there without major snafus. Everyone enjoyed it to the point where the product sold out beyond what she originally planned, right down to her last bits of supplies.”
Baez, who has two sons at Punahou, Marcos ’21 and Rocco ’22, said she loved partnering with Hodge on the project. “Just to be able to help and contribute just a small part to the Wildlife Center and to Maddy in her journey of becoming an entrepreneur, I feel proud of actually myself for doing it and being able to help,” she said.