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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
If you’ve got a great idea for a hot new startup but say that you haven’t been able to find the right people to pitch, then you’re just not paying attention.
Two of Hawaii’s leading startup accelerator programs are again putting out the call for entrepreneurs who might consider applying for funding, mentoring, and networking opportunities. Blue Startups is hosting an online event tomorrow afternoon, and XLR8UH is hosting an information session downtown on Tuesday.
The Blue Startups webcast follows an in-person meetup last week, where more than 100 interested entrepreneurs attended (including my daughter, who received a torrent of priceless advice).
Among the announcements made last week is that Blue Startups has increased its potential investment in cohort companies to $100,000. That’s $25,000 up front and as much as $75,000 in additional funding should cohort companies meet certain milestones. In addition, its three-month term is being extended to sixteen weeks.
Blue Startups also announced yesterday that it is for an accomplished business leader to serve as the ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ for at least a one-year term beginning in October. The person who fills the role will provide counsel as an in-house advisor and consultant, offering company founders insight and advice related to growing a successful startup.
Managing Director Chenoa Farnsworth will share all the details during the Google Hangout tomorrow at 2 p.m. You can visit and bookmark this link, or tune in live on YouTube:
Then on Tuesday, XLR8UH will open its doors to people thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, starting a company or commercializing a technology. The program, a partnership between the University of Hawaii and Sultan Ventures, is focused on people and research from the University of Hawaii system.
XLR8UH offers up to $175,000 in investment for high-growth opportunities rooted at UH.
While the commercialization of university-generated intellectual property is one of the goals of XLR8UH (which labels itself as a Proof of Concept Center as well an accelerator), its doors are open to anyone connected to UH. This includes students, alumni, post-docs, and faculty that happen to have an idea or nascent business that they want to take to the next level.
The pau-hana information session will lay out the opportunities and requirements in participating in the third cohort of XLR8UH, and alumni teams and mentors will be on hand to answer questions. It’ll be hosted at the XLR8UH office in Pioneer Plaza downtown (900 Fort Street Mall, Suite #1888).
Anyone interested in attending on July 14 should register online.
For more information on either event, visit either BlueStartups.com or XLR8UH.com, or visit the Blue Startups page or XLR8UH page on Facebook. Both programs are also on Twitter at @BlueStartups and @XLR8UH.
Photos from the respective accelerators’ Facebook pages.
Perhaps the only thing more insufferable than a blogger is a blogger who blogs about blogging. But I hope you’ll humor me today, as I mark the 15th birthday of Hawaii Blog, which I started reluctantly, updated sometimes only sporadically, but stubbornly maintained as ongoing documentary of one geek’s life.
Join me, if you will, on a walk down memory lane, looking back at the last fifteen years as told in this space.
Global ridesharing startup Uber sets up shop in Honolulu, and Uber expansion team members Paul Faguét and Tomas Campos share their plans on the day of their local soft launch.
Civic hacking is in its ascendancy, with then Honolulu mayor Peter Carlisle telling city departments to support open data, the launch of the city’s open data portal, and the formation of the Honolulu chapter of Hacks/Hackers.
The High Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) launches a new series of monthly networking mixers for developers and software engineers. “Thirsty Third Thursday” would later become “Wetware Wednesday.” I missed it, though, as I was leaving for my fourth San Diego Comic-Con.
The modern reboot of “Hawaii Five-0″ begins production, Disney’s “Phineas and Ferb” visit Hawaii, and Steve Jobs leaves Hawaii to face up to “Antennagate.” And Hawaii is still a lousy place to do business.
Hawaii’s three competing airlines were engaged in an “air war” in which interisland airfares dropped as far as $1. Meanwhile, travelers were excited at the pending launch of the Hawaii Superferry, which would bring yet another option. Sigh. Also, what’s a “tumblelog“?
The City & County of Honolulu celebrates its 100th birthday with a giant cake at Honolulu Hale, and my daughter Katie, then eight years old, is interviewed on the local news. “It’s enormous!” she says. She’s now 17, and nothing impresses her.
I’m impressed with Google Maps, although it was still in beta, Space Shuttle Discovery returned to space two years after the Columbia disaster, and my brother is in London during the London bombings. Ten years back and images are more scarce, and I was much less wordy.
Getting meta, I write about how I’m running out of server space for my various websites, which include my online journal (which begat this blog), diarist.net (once the portal for online journals), and hawaiinews.com (I still miss that domain name). I also rant a lot about national politics. How embarrassing.
Rental company U-Haul adds Hawaii to the states featured on the side of its trucks, and sets up an interactive site where you can learn about the Hawaiian “happy face spider” and the history of invasive species in the islands. (You can still see it on the Internet Archive.)
My coverage of the local tech scene wasn’t always positive. In 2001 I was marveling at the implosion of WorldPoint, once a local tech industry darling, which was then being evicted from its office space and seeing its remaining assets put up for auction. I also marveled at the media circus surrounding the disappearance of Chandra Levy, which of course would still be dominating the headlines until that terrible day in September.
At so it began, fifteen years ago. Perhaps fittingly, I start my very first blog post mentioning how I don’t like “the weblog fad.” (I didn’t want to let the shortened version of the word, “blog,” to catch on.) My first few posts cover Disney’s “Pearl Harbor,” Ben Cayetano, and robots.
That’s still culture, politics, and technology, right? Stay tuned for the next Hawaii Blog retrospective in 2030!
One of Hawaii’s top entrepreneurs chose Independence Day weekend to announce his latest big idea: helping island businesses and households to get off the grid by integrating state-of-the-art battery storage with solar photovoltaic energy systems.
Henk Rogers built his fortune by flying to Russia to secure the rights to international game sensation Tetris. He went on to found gaming and mobile software companies (like Avatar Reality and Blue Mars), Blue Startups, Hawaii’s first technology venture accelerator, and the Blue Planet Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to advancing clean energy.
His latest venture taps into both his extensive technology background as well as his environmental advocacy.
An Associated Press report by Caleb Jones spread far and wide today, netting coverage across local media as well as from national and international news outlets. It profiled Rogers and his 6,000-square-foot Honolulu home, which has been off the grid for three years. Instead, it (and the two Tesla electric cars parked in front) draws all its power from the sun.
Rogers is now taking the lessons he learned at home and bringing them to the masses with Blue Planet Energy Systems. And the new company’s debut product is Blue Ion, a self-contained energy storage system that includes batteries and specialized hardware and software.
(Rogers’ Blue Planet Energy Systems is not to be confused with this Illinois company or this company in the U.K., and Blue Ion is not the same as this marketing company in South Carolina. Blue is a popular color.)
At the heart of the new offering is a high-power, long-life Lithium ion batteries manufactured by Sony. Rather than using conventional lithium cobalt oxide, the new batteries use olivine-based phosphate cathodes, which mean they are less expensive, run cooler, and contain no potentially carcinogenic cobalt.
Each battery unit can store 1.2kWh and weighs 17 pounds, and the number of units installed depends on the energy needs of the property. The Sony batteries can handle more than 8,000 complete discharge cycles, or about 20 years of daily discharge, and come with a 10-year manufacturer warranty.
Blue Planet Energy Systems helps businesses or homeowners install and integrate the batteries into their existing PV systems (or can provide complete PV packages), and its special mix of hardware and software to manage the storage of electricity by day, and the use of battery power by night.
Battery storage is less common than “net metering” setups, where facilities run on solar power and sell excess energy to utilities during the day, but still draw electricity from the power company at night. But with PV use growing rapidly and incentives from utilities drying up, batteries are making more sense. Earlier this year, Tesla — the company that makes the electric cars that Rogers drives — announced that it was getting into the battery business as well.
Blue Planet Energy Systems notes that its offering could be especially compelling to people living in areas where the utility says their grid is already saturated with PV systems. With a large enough system and a Blue Ion installation, there’s no need to wait for the power company to sort things out. And there are still federal and state tax credits as well as various financing options to help people make the jump.
Rogers’ new company, like many technology startups, has roots in a garage, and its larger vision is similarly no less modest than trying to change the world.
“If you’re going to clean up the world, first of all you have to clean your own room,” Rogers told the AP. “We’re going to end the use of carbon-based fuel, and that is my mission No. 1.”
For more information, visit the possibly temporary Blue Planet Energy Systems website.
One of the hallmarks of summer in Hawaii are bon dances, a Buddhist custom that has gone mainstream in the islands, evolving into inclusive, family-friendly neighborhood festivals that celebrate Japanese culture. (There are also lantern floating ceremonies, usually at the end of obon season.) But in the days before temples come alive with dancing, singing, and drumming, there are more solemn rites to observe.
Among them are otoba, and I helped set up a few hundred of them this morning.
Well, “helped” may be a strong word, as most of the work was done by sturdy men and a few women who were often 20 years my senior. But I still got a couple of splinters while carrying scraps of wood, so that counts, right?
I grew up with one foot in Buddhist culture. My grandfather Yoshikiyo “Gijo” Ozawa was a Buddhist minister who came to Hawaii with my grandmother Hanako in 1931, serving and teaching plantation workers on Kauai.
My grandparents went on to live through World War II and U.S. internment camps, and returned to the islands to continue to serve the Soto Zen sect and the local Japanese American community. They helped build the Waipahu Soto Zen Temple Taiyoji, where my family and I spent many a Sunday morning chanting and learning about the Eightfold Path.
As a kid, the obon ceremonies inside the temple were something you had to endure in order to get to the food and fun of the bon dance outside. Distracted as I was, though, I still learned to recognize the otoba. These tall wooden sticks bore the names of families and people who had passed away, and the names were read aloud during the ceremony each year as a way to pay tribute to our ancestors.
But I never got up close and personal with otoba until 2008, when I joined the Board of Directors at the Jodo Mission of Hawaii. The temple is familiar to anyone who drives past the eastbound Punahou Street offramp on Interstate H-1, its distinctive pink structure featuring a design that’s more East Indian than Japanese (a common and fascinating architectural choice back in the day).
While the otoba at my family temple were lined up on the temple altar inside, the otoba at the Jodo Mission of Hawaii are set up outside on the lawn. They’re impossible to miss among Honolulu commuters, and regularly prompt questions and a few random visitors.
The word “otoba,” or just “toba” (like obon versus bon, the “o” is just an honorific), is the Japanese transliteration of the Sanskrit word “stupa,” one of the oldest types of monuments in Buddhism. Originally they were simply mounds of earth and stones where people and relics were buried.
Those memorial mounds evolved over the centuries to take as many as 30 different forms, the most familiar perhaps being the pagoda, a tiered tower design now seen all over the world. Interestingly, both the pagoda and the otoba tablets traditionally have five segments (note the notches in the wooden planks), representing the five elements in Buddhist culture: earth, water, fire, wind, and space.
Each year, otoba are dedicated to the dearly departed, each bearing the name of the deceased as well as the name of the otoba’s sponsor, usually a family or family member. Although the temple minister will visit and read each otoba as part of the formal obon ceremony, they are available for people to visit and leave offerings for a few days or weeks beforehand.
The combining of the deceased and sponsor names, coupled with prayer visits and offerings, is said to foster “eko,” or “merit transference,” which runs both ways between the living and the dead.
At the Jodo Mission of Hawaii, the otoba will stand until the formal obon services on July 17, 18, and 19. They’ll then be taken down, clearing the way for the bon dance on Aug. 14 and 15. For more information on the event, visit the Jodo Mission of Hawaii website at Jodo.us, or connect with the temple on Twitter at @JodoMission or on Facebook.
Bonus: Here’s a 360-degree view of the otoba setup at the Jodo Misison of Hawaii, made with Google’s Photosphere app:
Hawaii’s home-grown security conference marks its seventh year on Wednesday, offering two days of speakers, presentations, and networking (the face-to-face kind), a little like world-famous Black Hat events, but with an island vibe. The Shakacon slogan is “Sun, Surf, & C Shells.”
Sea shells. C shells. Get it?
Shakacon is a call-for-papers based conference, meaning would-be presenters need to prepare detailed presentations for the event. This year’s CFP noted that they receive more than a hundred submissions for the 16 or so spots in the program.
“At its heart, the Shakacon security conference is a laid back conference where industry, government, academia and independent experts will get together to share knowledge and experience in one of the most beautiful places on Earth,” organizers say. “There will be something for everyone and if sitting through talks isn’t your cup of Hawaiian coffee, you can step into one of the social areas and talk with our sponsors, staff, and attendees.”
This year, notable speakers include:
But that’s not all. Attendees will also hear from David Kennedy of TrustedSec, Deviant Ollam of The CORE Group and TOOOL, Drew Suarez of Matasano Security, Patrick Wardle and Colby Moore of Synack, Richard Wartell of Palo Alto Networks, Rick Wesson of Support Intelligence, Sean Metcalf of DAn Solutions, and Zoltán Balázs of MRG Effitas.
If hacking cars isn’t interesting enough, there will also be discussions of hacking medical devices and elevators. Security weaknesses of Android, Windows, Active Directory and other enterprise systems are also on the agenda, along with penetration testing and social engineering.
There will also be the annual “Capture the Flag” contest, this year hosted in the cloud and sponsored by Salesforce. The contest features a variety of challenges including reverse engineering, digital forensics, and programming, and is open to people of all levels of expertise.
It’s enough to make you want to spend some time off the grid.
Capping off the conference will be entertainment by Dual Core, an international “nerdcore” hip hop group that has released five full-length albums since 2007.
The Solar Impulse plane landed in Hawaii early this morning after four days and 22 hours in the air, solo pilot Andre Borschberg breaking the world record for the longest solo non-stop flight. But what made the journey more remarkable was that the trip was made without burning a single drop of fuel, as the SI2 aircraft was powered entirely by the sun.
I’ve written quite a bit already about the Solar Impulse, and today’s landing has made headlines around the world. The Solar Impulse team also does a spectacular job posting its own updates to the Solar Impulse website and across social media. You can even watch the entire five-hour landing sequence on YouTube, or just this short 90-second video fist-bump:
My daughter and I were also lucky enough to attend today’s historic landing and formal Solar Impulse press conference, so I wanted to share my experience as well. But I’ve also been up since 3 a.m. this morning, so words are starting to fail me.
Fortunately, if a picture is worth a thousand words, you can find the equivalent of 184,000 words in my Solar Impulse in Hawaii photo album on Flickr. That’s 184 photos, most taken with my humble iPhone (occasionally to the amusement and dismay of the professional journalists in attendance), and a few dozen snapped with a Sony CyberShot that benefits from a zoom lens.
I invite you to check out the entire, possibly exhausting gallery for the complete picture of today’s events. But here are some of my favorite shots and moments:
Kalaeloa Airport and the UH-managed Hangar 3 were opened to media and invited guests at 3 a.m. this morning. I wasn’t there when they opened up the gate, but my daughter and I were still among the first couple of dozen people to arrive.
At that early hour, they were still setting everything up, and for a time, we were able to wander around inside the hangar. We were offered coffee, water and pastries, and chatted with the ground team. Katie had a special conversation with Ela Borschberg, daughter of pilot Andre Borschberg, testing out her high school French language skills.
Ela said that during the long flight, they kept the livestream running on a laptop in the kitchen, and the sound of her father’s breathing was a constant presence. She could sense even a subtle change in tempo and know when he was trying to sleep, or working on something.
The SI2 had actually reached Honolulu last night, and had spent hours in a holiding pattern offshore. Before dawn, illuminated by a nearly full moon, we could see the aircraft circling in the distance. After a lot of milling around and talking story with a lot of local, national, and international journalists, a number of us were led onto a pair of buses to be brought out to the runway to get a better view of the SI2 landing.
While it was a challenge to keep the press corralled in its designated patch of runway, everyone settled into a good spot. By this point the intense energy of the moment was practically crackling through the air, the excitement fueled by the proud members of the Solar Impulse team around us.
The plane made a couple of overhead passes, and everyone trained their video and still cameras at the sky. (I couldn’t resist snapping a selfie.) The massive wingspan of the SI2 was already impressive, but at the same time, the relatively delicate build of the aircraft was also obvious. At times the aircraft seemed to almost hover in place, as if it was as light as a feather.
Finally we were told that the SI2 was on final approach. The Solar Impulse team members around us started to cheer and yell (mostly in French). The plane slowly swooped into position over the runway as a helicopter hovered nearby, documenting the arrival from the air.
As the SI2 floated gently to the ground, a pair of crewmembers on bicycles pedaled under each wing to eventually support them while the plane was on the ground. Support and emergency vehicles soon surrounded the plane, and the press was herded back onto the buses to return to the hangar.
By the time we were back at Hangar 3, the place was packed with journalists, guests, and government officials. My daughter and I disembarked from the buses as quickly as we could and nabbed a good spot right on the flightline. But as the SI2 started to approach from the distance, were were mobbed on all sides.
Everyone wanted to get the shot (and a decent shot at an early interview), and it was interesting watching the media ballet unfold. International press were granted a lot of leeway, leaving a lot of local journalists stepping all over each other. Most people were either cordial or at least politely pushy, but some gruff pros clearly knew that the only way to get the best spot was to commandeer it. As a lowly blogger with a smartphone, I was mostly deferential.
Katie ended up crouching under someone’s tripod.
The SI2’s journey to the hangar was people powered, a crowd of crew members guiding or following it along the last hundred yards. By now, someone was almost always cheering or clapping. After weeks of delays and a harrowing trans-Pacific flight, the Solar Impulse team was very, very happy to be finally welcoming Andre and the plane to Hawaii.
Once the SI2 was positioned outside the hangar, the celebration really began. Andre Borschberg’s first visitors were officials with customs and the state Department of Agriculture. (He did come from Japan, after all.) He was then checked out by his medical team, one of whom gave each of his legs a long and thorough massage. Before he even got up from the cockpit, though, a long line of dignitaries and sponsors climbed a ladder to his side to greet him and take photos.
Finally, though, Bertrand Piccard helped him to his feet to the loudest cheers of all. “It’s good to be in Hawaii!” Borschberg yelled more than once before finally stepping onto solid ground.
Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard were pulled in different directions for welcomes and hugs, and they were presented with a giant lei from the Hawaii Pa’u Riders. Finally, though, it was time to walk the line of journalists, who by this point were ready to pounce.
Not surprisingly, the BBC reporter snared them first, and all the other media were left to capture what they could of that first conversation. The next interview was in French, and the one after that was in French. I think.
But they did move down the line a few more times, and local TV news crews got their clips as well. The Hawaii reporters were mostly and understandably curious about the pilots’ plans while they were in Hawaii.
The Solar Impulse crew rolled the SI2 into the hangar, and the pilots and their entourage followed. The doors were closed, and perhaps Andre Borschberg was able to get some rest while the team prepared for the official press conference. There was fortunately enough time to go back home to rest a bit before returning to Kalaeloa.
When we returned to the airport, we were able to enter the hangar and get a closer look at the SI2. It was amazing to stand under one end of one wing, knowing that it was more than 72 meters to the other end… wider than a Boeing 747. On top of the wings, more than 17,000 solar cells.
We could also see the small cockpit where Andre Borschberg spent more than four days, sleeping no more than 20 minutes at a time.
Despite its impressive size, the carbon fiber SI2 only weighs about as much as a car.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell was among the local dignitaries to congratulate the Solar Impulse team on its historic flight.
Hawaii Governor David Ige declared July 3 “Solar Impulse Day,” and noted that he had worked in the very same hangar as an engineering student at the University of Hawaii.
Other special guests included Martin Dahinden (Swiss Ambassador to the U.S.), UH President David Lassner, Sen. Mike Gabbard, and Sen. Will Espero. Of course, several Solar Impulse sponsors were given a chance to say a few words.
One fitting sponsor was Moët & Chandon champagne, which provided the critical supplies for the day’s final toast.
What a day. Now for some rest. Want to see all the photos? Click here.
The Solar Impulse team announced tonight that the hangar will be open to the public on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information on the Solar Impulse mission, visit SolarImpulse.com, connect with @SolarImpulse on Twitter, on Facebook, on Google+, and of course on YouTube.
Bonus: Uploaded a few video clips that I also captured at the scene to YouTube.
"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
"Basically the price of a night on the town!"
"I'd love to help kickstart continued development! And 0 EUR/month really does make fiscal sense too... maybe I'll even get a shirt?" (there will be limited edition shirts for two and other goodies for each supporter as soon as we sold the 200)