Aspiring Aleutian Business Owners Compete For Startup Funding

Feb 21, 2019

Finalists Haliehana Stepetin, Travis Swangel, and Carlos Tayag are competing for funds to kickstart their small businesses.

Every year, the Aleutian and Pribilof Island Community Development Association (APICDA) awards grants to aspiring entrepreneurs from the region.

Current and former residents may apply, but their businesses must be located in one of the 12 Aleutian and Pribilof communities: Adak, Akutan, Atka, Cold Bay, King Cove, Nikolski, False Pass, Nelson Lagoon, Sand Point, St. George, St. Paul, and Unalaska.

This year, APICDA has choosen three finalists, who are now competing for funding to kickstart their projects. They'll be awarded between $3,000 and $10,000.

KUCB's Zoe Sobel spoke with the finalists about their business proposals.

Carlos Tayag: Sea Glass Bakery in Unalaska

Carlos Tayag wants to create an artisanal bakery in Unalaska.
Credit Chrissy Roes / KUCB

"Sea Glass Bakery is something I thought of because I like the ocean theme and the treasure theme," said Tayag. "There's a lot of people here who hunt for seaglass, and it's like a little hidden treasure that people like to find. So I like the idea of Sea Glass Bakery being a hidden treasure — kind of a diamond in the rough that you can find in Unalaska. Maybe something unexpected, but happy."

Travis Swangel: Island Bike Rental in Unalaska

Travis Swangel is interested in creating a bike rental business catering to tourists.
Credit Zoë Sobel/KUCB

"E-biking makes it fun all over again," said Swangel. "I don't know if you remembver, as a kid, the first time riding a bike. I know I do. It was pretty liberating and pretty exciting. I have to say: When you jump on a e-bike and it takes off with little effort, it's pretty exciting stuff."

Haliehana Stepetin: Peanut & The Bean Cafe in Akutan

With Peanut & The Bean Cafe, Haliehana Stepetin hopes to bring espresso to Akutan.
Credit Courtesy Haliehana Stepetin

"Akutan is a tiny little village, but we have this huge fishing plant there," said Stepetin. "We have a lot of fishermen coming in and out, and the ferry stops there. There are all these people coming in and out of Akutan, and the local residents want espressos, mochas, lattes, and all these different kind of drinks that we haven't been able to provide."