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Hawaii entrepreneurs feeding on bandwidth


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POSTED: Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hawaii is renowned for not being the easiest place to start a business. That said, bootstrap startups are alive and well in the Aloha State. Thanks to mainland connectivity, entrepreneurs with good ideas can still make Hawaii their home.

Dozens of companies participated in a recent forum at the University of Hawaii, organized by TechHui (TechHui.com), a local trade group that has some of the brightest minds in local tech circles as members. In particular, I found several small, promising startups that have created their own niche by leveraging the Internet.

John Honovich, founder of IP Video Market Info (ipvideomarket.info) personifies this group. A former UH grad student, John ran a Silicon Valley company in San Francisco funded by Kleiner Perkins, the legendary venture capitalist company. After years in the valley, he returned to Hawaii and founded a Web-based Consumer Reports-type publication that reviews video surveillance gear and storage devices, and analyzes industry trends. His publication is subscription-based and accepts no advertising. He's giving trade publications a run for their money by offering objective advice.

Similarly, Hawaii-born Truman Leung, founder of Ascribe (ascribedata.com), has developed a solution specifically for churches. A Web-based database, it allows church administrators to inexpensively do a host of chores. A UH grad with a degree in speech, he recognized in 2002 that there were no church management software (ChMS) companies offering a Web-based product. His product is used by congregations in Hawaii, on the mainland and in Australia.

Founded by the husband-and-wife team of Dan and Mika Leuck, Manoa-based Ikayzo (ikayzo.com) is a boutique interactive design agency and software development company that builds and localizes high-end Web, desktop and mobile applications for U.S. and Japanese clients. They have done everything from building social networking systems for travel sites (Fijiguide.com) to enterprise software for Bank of America and Oracle. The couple's skill sets work synergistically: Dan serves as creative director while Mika handles IT functions.

These entrepreneurs are changing the face of our community for the better, and we need to attract more of them. Broadband infrastructure between Hawaii and the mainland is slowly improving, which allows these startups to be in Hawaii. This makes it possible for kamaaina and newcomers to create a new economy in our islands. In upcoming articles we'll discuss the new availability of additional bandwidth and services that will assist us to achieve a better future for the islands.