George Koutitas
Founders Story

Mai Tai Maui 2016 – Vertical Living Entrepreneurs

Photo 1. MaiTai members (investors, entrepreneurs and pro athletes) in Maui Hawaii June 2016. High in the sky!

Recently, I had the privilege of being part of the “MaiTai Maui” event, in June 2016 and this is my story. I hope you enjoy reading!

I have always loved experiencing different things and trying to live my life “vertically”.  From my point of view, “Vertical Living” is a lifestyle that enables you to experience different physical and social dimensions of life. From having a good time drinking cheap beer with a stranger on the pavement of a street to closing big deals in an expensive restaurant with business executives. From programming 20 days in a row in front of your PC, to snowboarding powder covered mountains and kitesurfing big waves during the weekend.

Our beautiful nature and socioeconomic environment provide us with senses, that are waiting to be experienced. That would really help us build a solid and N-Dimensional personality. 

I’m really glad to see that the next generation of entrepreneurs, the MaiTai members, who are the people that make a difference globally, are Vertical Living entrepreneurs. I’m so thankful to be part of this team!

MaiTai Global (by Bill Tai and Susi Mai) started some years ago, when a handful of business executives, who were friends, made the decision to go kitesurfing to Maui, Hawaii. They realized that those were the perfect conditions under which to create strong bonds between people, talk about business and help entrepreneurs take their next steps. So, the MaiTai event was created to help participants combine their energy, network and resources to help each other achieve professional success, by pushing the limits of work and play, while also fueling philanthropic activities around the world. 

So, what makes kiteboarding unique? Kiteboarding transforms your body, as the link between air and water. Entrepreneurship is very similar. The entrepreneur is the link between the idea (theory) and the product (practice). You really need to be able to adapt and manage the unstable and extreme conditions of entrepreneurship every single moment.

Photo 2: Me kiteboarding and the equivalent version of kiteboarding as an entrepreneur.

During the MaiTai event in June, 100 entrepreneurs, investors and pro athletes kiteboarded and networked for 5 days in a row! The location? A beautiful kitespot at the North Shore of the island of Maui! If you think about it, it’s the perfect location for your mind, soul and body. 

So, what are the key elements of the success of the event?

MaiTai Daily schedule

The day starts with tech talks early in the morning. Between 8am-12am we are listening to presentations, discussing, brainstorming and making new friends. Around noon we all head to the beach, because the wind starts to blow! A rush of happiness is in the air. Everybody is preparing their kites and jump into the sea. Fun Fun Fun! You can hear people screaming from happiness. Others are jumping on top of you with their kites, while you try to avoid the sea turtles and go to the reef for some wave sessions. The feelings are really powerful. Once you get tired, head to the beach to eat, drink and relax. You share your kite experiences with other members and then, suddenly, you realize that the person you are talking to is the CEO or investor in a company that you’ve been dreaming to meet. It is so cool! After five hours of kiteboarding, it is dinner time at a beautiful place. You continue discussions and have a good time with your new friends. Friends that can be your future surfer dudes, investors or even clients/partners! The day ends when you go back home and say “What a day!!!!”

Photo 3: Tech talk in the morning


The Vertical Living entrepreneurs, members of MaiTai are awesome! I observed the following types of personalities:

The young supercharged entrepreneur: They were young, founders of very successful startups, who have raised millions of dollars in funding and they are managing more than 300 people. They were jumping like crazy during the kite sessions and during the night they were partying like teenagers… and suddenly they were serious, responding to an urgent business email! I love them!

The older “I can do it” entrepreneur: They are already successful entrepreneurs and their soul is trying to “tame” their bodies. They are learning how to kiteboard in 30+knot winds and they feel like kids! Instead of learning golf they are “eating” sand from their crushes on the beach. I respect them!

They all started from scratch, took their risks and they now ride the waves of innovation! They are here to share experiences and help each other take the next steps. The only thing I can say is “Respect!”.

Photo 4: A MaiTai entrepreneur in 30+knot winds having fun instead of trying to survive the wild conditions


They are amazing! Instead of playing golf isolated from the real action, they are on the beach with supercharged entrepreneurs having fun, understanding that Vertical Living entrepreneurs are the backbone of the next generation of entrepreneurship. Ready to take and manage risks, create successful businesses, fail fast in some occasions and stand up again. Instead of living in expensive hotels and driving luxurious cars, they share rooms using AirBnB. They wear flip flops and boardshorts all day and are back in the battlefield of entrepreneurship. These people are the engine of the ecosystem of innovation. A fragile, yet very important ecosystem!

Photo 5: Title is the perfect description

The pro-Athletes

They have invested their time and effort to inspire us with the capabilities of the human body. They are on a level of pure harmony between air and water. Their bodies are simply the extension of those two elements. Keep inspiring us guys!

Photo 6: A pro kiteboarder in action

Some personal moments

I had the chance to meet important people, from investors to entrepreneurs that I admire and pro athletes that inspire me. Here are some pictures.

Photo 7: Me talking with Bill Tai

Photo 8: Me with two of best pro kiteboarders of the Universe! Nick Jacobsen and Jessy Richman

Photo 9: Presenting Gridmates to MaiTai members

I always dreamed of being part of a team of Vertical Living entrepreneurs! I hope that all of you get to experience all the dimensions of life.

By the way, I am George Koutitas, founder of Gridmates, the world’s first internet platform that connects givers of energy with people in need. We transform your dollar donation to energy for people in need in our effort to alleviate the problem of energy poverty! I would like to ask all the readers to support our fundraising (I call them energyraising) campaigns at 


Dr. George Koutitas

Founder of Gridmates

Assist. Professor at Texas State University

“You have the power to energize people’s lives”

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