Entrepreneur Kurisu starts Internet portal iamhawaii.com
A new Hawaii Web portal officially hit the Net on Sunday and a mainland-based magazine about Hawaii will be coming home.
The Web portal iamhawaii.com and Hawaii magazine are the latest ventures by Duane Kurisu, founder of investment holding company aio LLC and minority investor in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
However, iamhawaii is its own limited liability company and operates independently, according to Kyle Tanouye, chief evangelist for iamhawaii LLC. That's what it says on his business card.
There's also President and Designated Hitter Brandon Kurisu, Duane's nephew; and Jaime Kinoshita, director of operations and snack vendor, among the leadership team.
The Web portal is not geared to visitors, Tanouye said. Rather, it is a way to "utilize technology to help people of Hawaii share experiences," and to build community, he said.
Several Web sites already help Hawaii residents and expats stay connected, such as HawaiiThreads.com, established by Ryan Ozawa.
"I'm all for more interaction and communities online," Ozawa said after viewing the new site, but added, "I just don't sense a heart at the core of the site, and I don't know if it can count on (users) to give it one right off the bat."
At the moment, the content on iamhawaii.com is from aio publications, including Honolulu, Hawaii Business and Hawaii Home + Remodeling magazines. "But this is just a starting point," Tanouye said.
The iamhawaii.com team hopes to draw content from other publications, major and minor, such as "a great newsletter" Tanouye receives as a Mililani resident.
The team also hopes to attract artists and musicians to introduce themselves, post their work and, after a future upgrade, engage in e-commerce.
The site is another manifestation of Kurisu's vision to use leverage for the benefit of the community. "If we can make a difference for a garage musician who gets exposure through our site for free and becomes successful, that's really what it is all about," said Tanouye. Perhaps a budding Little Leaguer will get discovered, too, he added.
The site also bears a large business directory. "What makes our site unique is that every business in there can customize their page for free," by adding coupons, specials and sales, Tanouye said.
Site users can comment on the businesses, Tanouye said, even if the comments are not positive.
The Web portal is the presenting sponsor of the 2006 season of Hawaii Winter Baseball, of which Kurisu is the CEO. * While games will be broadcast on KKEA-AM 1420, which Kurisu also owns, the site will be the only venue through which to hear all 81 Hawaii Winter Baseball games. Contractual obligations to broadcast other events will prevent the radio station from airing them all.
A Japanese-language option allows users to post in Japanese characters. Additional languages will be included over time.
From ether to paper
Meanwhile, back at the hard-copy ranch of print media, aio's PacificBasin Communications LLC has purchased California-based Hawaii magazine from BowTie Inc.
for undisclosed terms. The magazine has paid circulation of 75,000 subscribers and is aimed at frequent Hawaii visitors.
The magazine opened Honolulu offices in 1994 but editorial operations returned to California in 1997, leaving a sales team of two. They are not being retained by PacificBasin.
"There's been a lot of talk about a California company producing a Hawaii magazine," said June Kikuchi, BowTie editorial director and former Hawaii magazine editor. "I always said that I represented the readership, who always went to Hawaii and wouldn't think of going anywhere else."
John Heckathorn, director of integrated media for aio Group and a columnist for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, has been named editor. He served as editor of Honolulu magazine from 1993 to 2005.
Interim Publisher John Alves, president of PacificBasin, said Hawaii will be printed in Michigan. However, "we will write it and produce it here in Hawaii as we do all of our other titles."
"We look at it as a regional travel publication, not a visitor publication," Alves said. "As we develop the Web presence of Hawaii magazine, it will clearly be a contributor to iamhawaii.com.
Thursday, October 5, 2006
» The new Internet portal iamhawaii.com is the presenting sponsor for the 2006 Hawaii Winter Baseball season. A column on Page C1 Tuesday incorrectly reported that Hawaii Winter Baseball was a sponsor of the Web portal.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com