The Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship

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Instructors & Mentors


Kari Leong headshot

Dr. Kari Leong is an international entrepreneur, educator and community leader. She is the co-founder of Bubble Tea Supply, the first USA company to manufacture and distribute bubble tea products online since 2001. In 2005, Dr. Leong developed the social entrepreneurship media company Greater Good Inc. Greater Good Radio, TV and book have won multiple national and local awards. She is currently developing an entrepreneurial training program called StartUP Founder.

Dr. Leong has been recognized for her leadership in Hawaii as SBA’s Small Business Journalist of the Year, Region IX, PBN’s Forty Under 40, Pacific Century Fellows, and StartUp Weekend and Global StartUp Battle Winner. She received her BA in Journalism and Education, and MA in Administration, Curriculum, and Instruction from Gonzaga University. She received her EdD from the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

Kate Poljakova

Kate Poljakova was born and raised in Slovakia and moved to Hawaii after she got recruited to play for University of Hawaii (UH) Division 1 Women Tennis team. After she became a team captain in her junior year, she led her team to first ever conference championship in UH Women Tennis team history. In addition to her student- athlete achievements, she was selected to represent Shidler College of Business in CFA Research Challenge. After winning the local round, her team got placed in the top 20 teams within North and South Americas region. During her studies, Kate also worked as an Academic Mentor and Financial/Accounting Tutor for student- athletes.

Kate graduated from University of Hawaii Shidler College of Business in Spring 2014, where she earned a BBA in Finance and International Business. In her role as Venture Analyst at Sultan Ventures, she focuses on financial analysis and operation support. She is also a Program Associate for XLR8UH assisting with program management.

Peter Rowan headshot

Peter Rowan is currently the Executive Director of PACE (Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship), and an instructor at the Shidler College of Business. He also serves as the Angel-in-Residence at XLR8UH. He was Corporate Vice President, New Ventures at Coinstar from 2001-2010. During his tenure, the company grew from $150 million to $1.3 billion in revenue, entered new lines of business and introduced innovative growth initiatives like its DVD kiosks, money transfer, and e-payment programs. At Coinstar, Peter led more than 20 acquisitions, investments and divestitures, including its investment in Redbox.

Peter has taught entrepreneurship and new venture strategy since 2005. He is active in the entrepreneurial community as an advisor, mentor and investor. He has a BA in Russian History from Cornell University, an MA in International Policy Studies and an MBA from Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Mark Tawara

Mark Tawara has over 25 years of experience in marketing, management and technology. Dubbed a “serial entrepreneur” by Pacific Business News, Mark has owned and operated numerous successful start-ups in retail, technology and consulting over the past 20 years. With an emphasis in marketing, Mark has served in marketing capacities for several architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) firms during his career. He also served as chief operating officer for a 180-person international engineering firm with offices throughout Hawaii and the Pacific Rim.

Mark's consulting business (Manageability LLC) provides management and operations consulting, executive and staff-level leadership training and development, and strategic marketing consulting services. In addition, Mark also owns and operates a digital signage business (Bright Light Digital) as well as a drone services company (AEC Drones LLC) focused on the built environment.

Mark received his BBA in marketing from the University of Hawaii Shidler College of Business and serves as a volunteer coach, mentor and judge for numerous Shidler College of Business and PACE events. He is the recipient of numerous certifications/honors; author of several articles on technology, marketing and leadership; and has served as a speaker, presenter and moderator on topics involving entrepreneurship, technology and marketing.