Entrepreneur of the Year Awarded to Founder of KAI Vodka LLC

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Marcus Bender, American Businessman, Founder, and Managing Director of Kai Vodka LLC, was distinguished as "Entrepreneur of the Year," at an award ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City.

We are proud that this Hawaii-based company has been able to create a business opportunity and cooperation between Vietnam and the United States.

Marcus Bender, Founder and Managing Director of Kai Vodka LLC, was distinguished with the Entrepreneur of the Year award by University of Hawaii’s Vietnam Executive Master of Business Administration (VEMBA) Program.

The ceremony took place at the InterContinental Asiana Saigon Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, where the class graduated on July 14, 2013. The accolade is reserved for individuals who have successfully launched a new business and created meaningful new jobs in the process. Marcus embodies the spirit of “Entrepreneur of the Year” having started KAI in 2005 and developing it into a successful multi-label international venture.

Dr. Tung Bui, Faculty Director & Matson Distinguished Professor of Global Business says of Mr. Bender: “Through his 25 years of pioneering work in the beverage industry, and 20 years of business exploration effort in Vietnam, Mr. Marcus Bender, Managing Director of Kai Vodka, has shown that his passion and perseverance, his creativity in product development and willingness to take risks, his strong inter-cultural negotiating skills and ability to create strategic alliance in a global supply chain have helped him built a successful global start-up. As the recipient of the 2013 Entrepreneur of the year award of the Shidler College of Business Executive MBA in Vietnam, Mr. Bender’s Kai Vodka is an exemplary case study of how to develop a comprehensive business model that leverages the low-cost-high-quality production in HCMC with a pro-active marketing approach to launch a new line of premium vodka in a well-established highly competitive global industry. We are proud that this Hawaii-based company has been able to create a business opportunity and cooperation between Vietnam and the United States.”

The company produces six items all distilled from rice and gluten free. The collection of products started with its flagship Kai Vodka and Kai Lychee, and in 2011 KAI launched four line extensions: Kai Lemongrass, Kai Coconut Pandan, Kai Lemongrass Ginger Shochu/Soju and Kai Young Coconut Shochu/Soju. The shochus won Double Gold Medals in the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and were featured on NBC’s Today Show. Enjoyed at top bars and restaurants across the world, KAI is an unparalleled premium rice spirit with unique Pan-Asian flavors. Marcus notes Kai is not a “me-too” product and has a reason for being.

Marcus Bender’s career in the beverage industry started in 1981 when he became the Hawaii importer of Hinano Beer. Following Hinano, Marcus created Pure Hawaiian Sparkling Water, the first sparkling water flavored with natural essence, without sugar. Marcus then acquired Hansen’s Foods Inc., manufacturer of Hansen’s Natural Soda, in a leverage buyout in 1990. In 1994 Marcus established Hawaiian Springs Natural Water, bottled at the source. In 1997 Marcus took Hawaiian Natural Water public through an IPO. In 2000 Marcus founded Honolulu Brewing Company and purchased the assets to Brew Moon Restaurant and Microbrewery, which he sold in 2006 to focus full time on Kai Vodka LLC.

For more information contact info(at)kaivodka(dot)com.

The Shidler College of Business is renowned for its expertise in international management education and is consistently ranked among the nation¹s top25 graduate schools for international business by U.S.News & World Report. Long recognized for its Asia-Pacific focus, the College is a professional school, offering a wide variety of degree, certificate and executive programs. The College places a strong emphasis on the development of management skills, entrepreneurship and the management of business information technology. The Shidler College of Business is the only graduate program in the State of Hawaii accredited by AACSB International.

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Amy Bender
Kai Vodka LLC
(808) 593-7731
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