Startup paradise –> Dec. 01 — California’s Silicon Valley inspired dozens of startup hubs across the country, most of which adopted names that incorporate some feature of their local geography or culture. Among them are Silicon Slopes in Utah , Silicorn Valley in Des Moines , Silicon Beach in Los Angeles , Silicon Plantation in Virginia and Silicon Forest in Portland. Now Hawaii’s effort to build a community driven by innovation, entrepreneurial savvy and tech creativity has its own identity: Startup Paradise. The nickname, which has been used informally for more than a year, will be officially unveiled Wednesday at the state’s annual Venture Capital Summit being held at the Sheraton Waikiki.
Local venture capital veteran Chenoa Farnsworth said the adoption of Startup Paradise to represent Hawaii’s entrepreneurial scene evolved organically, helped along by social media. The moniker will be used in a collective branding and promotional effort with the support of major players in Hawaii’s innovation sector. Farnsworth said she noticed that the term began appearing on Twitter about the time AOL founder Steve Case addressed a startup conference here in the summer of 2012. “Bloggers started using that hashtag and it just grew from there. We saw people we didn’t even know starting to use it. It seems like it just kind of stuck,” said Farnsworth, who manages Blue Startups, a Honolulu -based venture accelerator. The name, which emerged without the benefit of any marketing studies or focus groups, is an apt description for the community in Hawaii , she added. “It really plays to our strengths.” Hawaii has already proved it can produce successful startups ranging from biotech companies to clean-energy firms. Now it can leverage its location as a desirable place in which to work and live, she said. “What really sticks in people’s minds about Hawaii is that it’s a paradise,” Farnsworth said.
When Blue Startups seeks applicants for its accelerator program, Farnsworth said there is a lot of interest from both Asia and the mainland. “You can do this kind of thing anywhere in global economy, and a lot of people want to do it here,” she said. Local seed funds, trade groups, foundations and government entities have signed on to promote Startup Paradise, including Blue Startups, Energy Excelerator, mBloom, Nalukai Foundation , Entrepreneurs Foundation , Startup Capital Ventures , Box Jelly, Sultan Ventures , Hawaii Venture Capital Association , Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship , Startup Hawaii, Hawaii Angels, HI Growth Initiative and Hawaii Technology Development Corp.
Among the stated goals of Startup Paradise is “increasing awareness of Hawaii as a place to do innovative startups, improving our collective ability to recruit talent and capital to the state.” The agenda for Wednesday’s Venture Capital Summit includes a “demo day,” when companies participating in both the Blue Startups and Energy Excelerator programs will pitch to investors. IBiS Networks, one of six growth-stage companies receiving support from the Energy Excelerator, is looking to increase the visibility of its energy management technology that allows businesses to cut their electricity bills by using patented “InteliSocket” technology to automatically turn off equipment such as copiers and air conditioners when not in use. Honolulu -based Oceanit Laboratories developed the technology in collaboration with Concentris Systems, which provided the network that allows the smart sockets to communicate with each other and a base station. Oceanit earlier this year spun off IBiS Networks to begin commercializing the technology after field-testing it in a dozen pilot projects. IBiS has installed the systems in five businesses, and nine other installations are pending, said Michael Pfeffer , IBiS chief executive officer.
The technology allows companies to remotely control up to 65,000 sockets per system. Up to 15 systems can be linked to form one mega-network. “Hotels are one of the markets where this is getting a lot of interest,” Pfeffer said. “We are currently working with several. It’s a natural fit, expecially in Hawaii with the cost of electricity.” When hotel rooms are unoccupied, electrical devices and appliances such as televisions, refrigerators and air conditioners usually remain plugged in, wasting electricity. The InteliSocket technology allows the hotel management to turn the appliances on and off as needed with just a keyboard stroke. Wasted energy is also a big problem in offices. Even when a copy machine goes into standby mode, it is still drawing about 130 watts of current, according to the IBiS website. Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. , that amounts to about 1 kilowatt of power, or about $125 a year with Hawaii’s electricity prices. Educational facilities, military installations and state and federal buildings are also prime targets for the technology,Pfeffer said. “Over the last 10 years or so, energy efficiency at the building level has been focused on things like air conditioning and lighting retrofits,” Pfeffer said. “What we’re finding today is that 50 percent of energy being consumed is at the wall socket. It’s a growing problem at the commercial level. Controlling plug-load consumption is where energy efficiency is going to make a difference over the next five years.” ___ (c)2013 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Visit The Honolulu Star-Advertiser at www.staradvertiser.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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