Networking Web site has island spin


POSTED: Monday, March 30, 2009

Regular readers will remember that this past summer I did a column on Web 2.0, one of the hottest trends in software.

Web 2.0 enhances collaboration and information sharing among users, which translates into the development of hosted services and Web-based communities such as wikis, blogs and collaborative tagging.

The shorthand is that Web 2.0 has set the stage for a revolution in social networking Web sites such as MySpace, FaceBook, Flickr, Twitter and many other applications.

Many of them are free or very inexpensive, which means you can use them to make your business or personal Web site more flexible in terms of sharing data and communicating with clients or workers within your organization.

One of the local stars of the Web 2.0 world is Dave Kozuki, founder of People Bridge, a company based in the Manoa Innovation Center. Kozuki is a kamaaina who spent years in Silicon Valley and decided to return in 2006 because of the tax incentives afforded by Act 221/215, and the fact that he missed Hawaii.

Notable advisors include Iolani grad Chris Chen, the most tenured member of the Paypal team and another local boy, Mike Hosokawa, managing director of GE Equities Asia Pacific, based in Hong Kong.

What does People Bridge do?

“;Basically,”; said Kozuki, “;we put your neighborhood online. Neighborhoods are made of individuals, affinity groups such as neighborhood organizations, school alumni associations, or even small businesses such as Kokua Market, the health food store in Moiliili. People Bridge allows individuals within organizations to seek each other out, collaborate on projects and set up events.

“;Once we've created that venue for them, there's no telling what can happen. For example, Roosevelt School raised nearly $1 million for their sports complex, through alumni.”;

People Bridge is also used by members of a Nuuanu Neighborhood Security Watch and the Moilili Citizens Program to assist in keeping their respective areas safe. Members are encouraged to post videos, photos or descriptions of suspicious activities so that residents can be apprised of what to look out for.

Kokua Market is adopting People Bridge for its membership. Board President Rachael Wong said the application fits perfectly with Kokua's strategy to more closely link its more than 2,700 “;owners,”; who each bought a share in the store.

“;We're a cooperative with a large and varied group of owners,”; says Wong. “;People Bridge will let us notify owners of sales, store events and meetings, and it will allow them to network with each other through this community-building venue.”;

Kozuki said the business model is ad sales targeted at the specific neighborhood or affiliation.

He said that, unlike MySpace, which “;aims to attract anyone who can type,”; People Bridge targets smaller, more exclusive, tightly bound groups.

Kozuki is banking on Hawaii's sense of ohana. I think he's on the right track.