Luke Untermann ’10

The story of Luke Untermann's new business Banan is a modern tale of surf, sustainability and social media.

Nearing college graduation in 2014, Untermann ‘10 and friends Matt Hong ‘10, Zak Barry ‘10 and Galen McCreary ‘10 came together to brainstorm ideas for a new business.

The foursome's eureka moment came as they were introduced to the classic, vegan, single-ingredient banana "nice cream" and the realization that they all hailed from a state that grows and sells a lot of bananas. It was homeward bound as they wrapped up college, summer travel and road trips.

In between surf sessions, the group built their headquarters in Matt's parents' backyard and got started on recipe development and business planning.

"None of us had any food or entrepreneurial experience coming in, so we've been learning along the way," said Untermann, whose own entrepreneurial parents started Pictures Plus from humble beginnings at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. "One of the main lessons we've learned in starting something at this age is that is has to involve some kind of passion. We're all passionate about our mission and trying to make a difference in the way our community sees and consumes food."

Fate brought them a great Craigslist deal on a food truck, and Banan was born. Serendipitously, the business idea that was hatched between surf sets became a reality as the truck opened for sales on the final day of the 2014 Billabong Pipe Masters.

Throughout, Banan's owners have focused on community and sustainability. Not wanting to throw all those banana peels into the trash, they found local farmers who would take the peels and use them as feed for pigs.

Untermann and his pals are digital natives who use social media fluently. Instagram followers initially helped spread the word about Banan and propelled their business. Later, Banan turned to to raise $35,000 to build out a brick-and-mortar storefront on University Avenue. And along the way and between servings, creating videos of dancing, decorated bananas helped keep it fun.

"No matter how hard or challenging work gets, we're quickly reminded how lucky we are when we come in to work and our best friends are there waiting for us," said Untermann.