Gina has achieved success at a very young age. When she decided to open The Cole Academy, Gina wrote the business plan in one weekend and in the next week she obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in financing. Before the doors were even opened for business, Gina had filled between 70 to 80% of the student openings. Eight months from writing her business plan, she opened her doors and a year later is expanding.

Between both locations and her business owned with her husband, Gina will employ over 60 people and is a major employer in Hawaii. The Cole Academy will serve over 200 students between both locations.

As a community minded individual, Gina helped raise over $20,000 in two days for UNICEF with the total nearing $50,000 in a very short amount of time. She tells how this came from her heart and soon had a great positive impact on her business.

If you are looking to become both financially successful and a community leader, you don’t want to miss this interview.

Some of the questions asked:
What is The Cole Academy and what makes it different from other preschools?

Why did you decide to locate in downtown Honolulu and why do you think there aren’t more preschools in the downtown area?

You didn’t wait very long to open a second location, was that in your original plan?

How did you decide on opening in Kapolei?

How did this come about, what is the story behind the Cole Academy?

When you knew you wanted to start the Cole Academy what was the first thing you did?

How long did it take to write your business plan?

What were the major milestones achieved to get TCA up and running?

What was the most difficult challenge to getting started and running your business?

How did you obtain financing?

What community organizations or non profits are you involved with?

Can you tell us more about how you launched the South Asia Keiki Aloha fund drive and what prompted you to do it?

How did you integrate the SAKA fund drive w/ the Cole Academy?

How has that helped your business?

Do you find it harder to do business because you’re a woman?

Any advice for today’s young business person?

What are the 3 biggest mistakes people make when starting their own business and what do you suggest for them to overcome these mistakes?

How did you develop your business skills and entrepreneurial abilities?

What other businesses do you run?

What important things about running a business that you know now but didn’t know before opening The Cole Academy?

What’s the biggest obstacle in running your business?

What are the most important metrics in running your business?

What is your greatest strength in running your business?

Gina Mangieri is the founder of The Cole Academy and is also a broadcast reporter on KHON2 News.

The Cole Academy started as a downtown infant, toddler and preschool center educating 100 children — including her toddler, Cole. Next year, it is planning a major expansion into West Oahu, where a new center will educate another 120 children.

The concept for the school came about when Gina — at the time the editor of Pacific Business News — came back from maternity leave and was in need of good childcare. Other island centers had long waiting lists, and none met exactly what she envisioned in care and education.

If she was going to wait months for entry into anything less than the “perfect school,” she figured, why not just make one herself?

As she gathered experts from the field to help bring her vision to life, Gina became more enthralled with the business and philosophy of early childhood education. And as demand for enrollment doubled, tripled, even quadrupled compared to her initial concept, Gina found it was time for a transition so she could focus on the demands of building what would come to be the largest infant, toddler and preschool center in Hawaii.

After 5 years at the helm of the PBN newsroom, Gina devoted her full attention to bringing The Cole Academy to life. It was a change that seemed to mean leaving behind journalism — once the core of her professional goals and experiences.

But it was a transformation that, ironically, would bring Gina closer to her entrepreneurial roots, while opening a new door back into TV journalism after the school was up and running.

Gina grew up in an entrepreneurial family, helping in just about every aspect of the businesses from an early age. Whether it was handling accounts receivable for mom’s store or shoveling sludge at dad’s car wash, Gina learned young that a business owner is neither above nor below any job that needs to get done.

Gina’s mom was a journalist before herself changing careers, to raise kids and later go into real estate and retail.

When Gina chose to go into journalism like her mom, she ended up gravitating toward business journalism — blending her passion for news and storytelling with her entrepreneurial background.

Gina came to Hawaii to join Pacific Business News, quickly identifying with the strong family-business and women-owned-business community in the islands, as well as the young businesspeople who all too rarely received recognition for their pursuits.

Gina created the concept for the PBN Forty Under 40 event — (actually pitched as Thirty Under 30 at first!). The news, sales and marketing teams at PBN brought the concept to life and the event continues to celebrate the achievements of young businesspeople.

Also in Gina’s first year with the paper, the PBN Women in Business event was ready grow into the premier recognition program for female businesspeople; news provided full support with new features and specials dedicated to women’s business topics.

For these and other achievements as a business journalist, Gina has been recognized as the top business journalist not only in Hawaii but in the entire Western region by the U.S. Small Business Administration. She also has received various industry awards and was a featured speaker at a national journalism convention on the topic of successful women in news.

She stays involved in the local community through a variety of nonprofit boards, as well as civic service. As a Pacific Century Fellow, Gina contributed to a book written by leaders from Hawaii or with island ties, outlining “101” ways to make Hawaii a great place.

After the devastating tsunami in South Asia in December 2004, Gina launched the South Asia Keiki Aloha fund drive — with The Cole Academy serving as a clearinghouse for Hawaii gifts to UNICEF, the U.N. agency for children. In just the first 2 days, the fund raised more than $20,000.

Today, the total is near $50,000 — UNICEF’s largest school achievement in the nation. It’s a success for which the U.S. Fund for UNICEF president will be paying a special visit to The Cole Academy in March.

After taking a 6-month break to build the first downtown school, Gina got back into journalism as the Interactive News Director for KHON2 and KGMB9, handling the multimedia sites for both stations and is now an on air reporter for KHON2.

Prior to working in Hawaii television, Gina was editor of Pacific Business News for 5 years. She has been in print and broadcast journalism as a reporter and editor in New York, London, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Hawaii.

She is married to Doug Ewalt, who owns and operates Hawaii Nautical and the Hawaii Nautical Marine Life Foundation at Ko Olina Resort.

The Cole Academy

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