Curating Hawaii’s surf lifestyle in a box

 

By Anna Hrushka, Pacific Business News
Posted May 22, 2017

 

Kevin Tighe launched Surf Shop Box last August along with co-founder and professional surfer Mark Healey.

At a cost of $49 a month, the subscription service sends a monthly box of curated men’s surf apparel to its members in 45 states and 11 countries.

Surf Shop Box’s curated boxes include apparel from well-known surf brands like Billabong and Quiksilver, as well as products from lesser known businesses, like Drifter Surf Shop, a surf store in Bali, Indonesia.

“Surf Shop Box isn’t just for the core surfer,” Tighe told Pacific Business News. “It’s also for someone who is aspiring to live the lifestyle.”

Surf Shop Box is one of seven companies selected to participate in Honolulu-based accelerator Blue Startups’ ninth and current cohort.

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Kevin Tighe launched Surf Shop Box last August along with co-founder and professional surfer Mark Healey. Image Credit: Tina Yuen PBN

What gave you the idea for Surf Shop Box?

I got turned on to the subscription model by a company called Loot Crate. It’s called the subscription box for geeks and gamers. In the early days, I was at their office and I saw how quickly they were growing. I saw that one of the reasons was they have a really passionate interest group. And surfing — people change their lives for surfing. Whether you surf or don’t, people are attached to the beach lifestyle and the vibes around it. I was intrigued by the model and looking to start something in the surf industry, so I was just looking for the right business. I saw that no one had really done the subscription model with surf. And timing was really good because surf is growing, but so is stand-up paddle boarding. So now you have a new group of customers in the middle of the country, people who paddle board in a lake or river.

How many people work for you?

One of our biggest assets is that we have a really strong team that has done it before, in both surf and in subscription commerce which is really nice. We’re small in the day-to-day. We have about three people on operations, and then we have a marketing team with nine people. Not all nine are full time, but we have nine people that work in customer acquisition, our whole email marketing ecosystem, retention. Really digging into the data. It’s a really unique business model where you can dive into those things, dive into the psychology and use that to improve your marketing, but also improve your product and how you can make the experience better for customers.

What are your top markets?

Top markets are Florida, California, Hawaii, New York and Texas. Some of the most passionate members are in the middle of the country, like Minnesota and Indiana. That’s what we wanted. We wanted to make a product for the core surfer that loves it, but also someone that loves the lifestyle and can share in it too.

How do you choose what goes in each box?

We’re starting to roll out themes in June. If you have a theme box, everyone will get the same item, but it might be different versions. For instance, we’re doing a sustainable box. Every product in the box is from a sustainable company. Everyone will get the same three items, but different versions, based upon your style preferences. We’re doing a North Shore-themed box in August, so we’re teaming up with a local surf photographer named Zak Noyle to do a limited-edition round of shirts. … When we don’t have themes, it’s based upon where our member is. If it’s the winter time, someone in New York is not going to get the same thing as a guy in Hawaii. It’s based on their geographic location and their age. Everything is curated.

What is retention like?

Our churn is really low. It’s right now been 7 percent. In subscription commerce, 10 to 15 percent is good. So we’re well below that. We’re really happy with that, especially since we’re still very early stages. … People in general, we expect to stay 12 to 28 months. Then I expect to see them take a little break and then come back. Maybe they’ll start doing a quarterly box.

Are you planning on launching a women’s box?

We are aiming to launch women’s later this summer. We got a lot of demand for it. It’s a whole separate set of inventory, so it’s not as simple as it seems. Part of the fundraising we’re doing right now is to launch women’s. Women account for over 53 percent of spending on surf apparel now. There’s less of them buying, but they’re buying more. It’s a market you can’t ignore and we want to launch it as soon as possible.

What has been the biggest challenge in starting the company?

Growing the business in a smart way. We want to be really smart about it. Obviously, it’s a very cash intensive business, you have to be very on top of how you are spending your money to acquire customers, what that reflects in inventory costs, and how long it takes to break even and start profiting on those customers.

What’s the most rewarding part of owning a business?

I’ve been able to really connect with people around the world. I’ve become friends with a lot of the guys who are members. One of them became one of our first investors. If I go to an area and I know there are members, I’ll shoot them an email and say, “Can I take you guys out for a drink?” And I’ll just pick their brain. It’s really cool when you can connect with people that you normally wouldn’t have and also see that they’re excited about what you’re doing.

What’s your marketing strategy?

It’s a very ad-driven model. We spend most of our ad budget on Facebook and Google.

How do you find new products?

That’s where Mark comes in, since he travels the world surfing. He’s been everywhere and he knows everyone and all the cool places. A lot of it comes from his experience, traveling around the world finding the coolest products.


CLOSER LOOK

Kevin Tighe
Founder and CEO,
Surf Shop Box

Email: email
Website: surfshopbox.com

Emergency Streamer That Saves Lives on Shark Tank – See Rescue Streamer

 

By Jeremy Alexander, Huffington Post
Posted 4/24/17

 

THE FOLLOWING IS A ROUGH TRANSCRIPT OF THE VIDEO ABOVE

The second entrepreneur into the Shark Tank this week was presenting his business See Rescue and was seeking $200k in exchange for 20% of the business. He has developed a portable streamer that can be extended in emergency situations so that you can increase your visibility for rescue.

As for his numbers, it gets a bit interesting. He licensed out the product years ago and the licensing group saw $15Mill dollars in sales over 15 years. Now the license has expired and he has taken it back. Even without the financial backing of the licensing group, he saw $200k in sales last year and $250k this year. The smaller version sells for $78 and the large one sells for $118.

First of all, I was really disappointed in the Sharks’ hesitation to get involved with this product. I understand their reasoning, but this is a proven product. Since it’s creation it’s saved 4 people’s lives. And that might not sound like a lot, considering it’s over the course of almost two decades, but I’d argue that it would be thoroughly proven if it had only saved a single person’s life. I can’t even imagine the feelings this entrepreneur had when one of those people personally thanked him for saving his life.

Anyway, like I said, I understand their reasoning. The biggest problem they had was with the challenges that would be presented with a strategy that targets a consumer market. The enterpreneur didn’t get into this too deep, but I feel like the only reason they Sharks would be so concerned about this is because much of the 15 years of licensing was focused on military contracts. The entrepreneur didn’t explicitly say that was the case, but he did mention that they had done military contracts in the past. Perhaps there is some clarification on how much of their business was done on those contracts that got edited out for time.

Other than just straight retail, the entrepreneur was also hoping for a path toward a mandate to include this product on lifejackets and in emergency kits. Personally, I think that should definitely be a major focus for his business. Mark is right though. That’s such a binary path. You either succeed and make millions, or you fail and make nothing. So although I think that’s the right path for him to go down, it’s not a path that excites investors. It’s far too risky.

All this being said, I think this product is amazing. It literally saves lives and has been proven to work. The military approves of it and I entirely agree that it needs to be included on all lifejackets and emergency survival kits. So good luck to this entrepreneur. He needs to keep pushing this out as far and wide as he can so more and more people can benefit from it.

Anyway guys, that you so much for watching! Please, please, please comment down below. I would love to see your thoughts on See Rescue. Don’t forget to like, favorite, subscribe, all that jazz. But until next time, I love you guys and I’ll talk to you later! Bye!

Behind Hawaii’s push to be a startup paradise

By Ken Yeung, VentureBeat
Posted May 13, 2017

Above: Points around the world from paradise. Image Credit: Anthony Quintano/Flickr

Above: Points around the world from paradise.
Image Credit: Anthony Quintano/Flickr

We all know the San Francisco Bay Area is home to Silicon Valley, but a few cities and states around the country are trying to recreate the region’s success. In Nebraska, you have Silicon Prairie, then there’s Silicon Alley in New York City, Silicon Roundabout in London, and Silicon Beach in Venice, California. Many of these have popped up in just the past few years, and some states are beginning to realize the importance of supporting these new innovation hubs.

Among these is one of the most isolated states, geographically speaking: Hawaii. Working with the local community, the government has been pursuing efforts to establish a tech hub that is being dubbed Startup Paradise. During my last visit to Hawaii, I spoke with Governor David Ige and others about the initiative, which is meant to further diversify the Aloha State’s industries and retain its talent.

Diversifying the economy

Above: Waikiki beach photographed from a Genesis Aviation Helicopter tour. Much of Hawaii’s economy is reliant on tourism and hospitality.Image Credit: Edmund Garman/Flickr

Above: Waikiki beach photographed from a Genesis Aviation Helicopter tour. Much of Hawaii’s economy is reliant on tourism and hospitality.Image Credit: Edmund Garman/Flickr

“I’m an electrical engineer by profession, a University of Hawai’i [alumnus], and I graduated in that first boom of tech,” Governor Ige said. “When I graduated…I had 41 job offers, 40 of them were on the mainland, and they were from everyone. My first time out of state was a job interview with Intel, IBM, and Hewlett Packard in Silicon Valley. So fast forward, once I became a legislator, I was on a mission to create more job opportunities for tech people and engineers…out of five friends in my EE class, four of them went to the mainland and never came back.”

Finding a thriving tech ecosystem in Hawaii is really difficult — I tried. During my trip, I sought out people I knew to see if maybe there was a startup market that remained relatively off the radar. Though there are accelerators, such as Blue Startups and Elemental Excelerator, and innovation centers, it’s rare to see a local startup make it big in Hawaii. But efforts are now being made to change all of that.

When I graduated from the University of Hawaii (UH), working in tech didn’t seem like a viable option — the focus was on travel and hospitality at that time. And unlike Stanford, Caltech, MIT, and others, Hawaii’s universities are perhaps known for their strong international business and research programs. So how can the state offer its young tech workers and entrepreneurs a reason to remain in Hawaii and contribute to the local economy?

During his time in the legislature, Governor Ige wrote all of the state’s venture capital laws, including creating the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation(HSDC), which is tasked with making investments to boost economic development. “When I started, we had zero venture investments in the state of Hawaii..people weren’t interested in making this kind of investment,” he said. “We’ve had great tech successes, when you look at UH and the kind of things that started and evolved here, what should have been and could have been, but there was really no environment. When you talk about the ethernet and the core, it really started at UH. AlohaNet and the Aloha Protocol was really the beginning of TCP/IP — it’s the basic underpinning of the internet. None of it comes back to Hawaii, but it definitely was started here.”

Above: Hawaii Governor David IgeImage Credit: State of Hawaii/Flickr

Above: Hawaii Governor David IgeImage Credit: State of Hawaii/Flickr

He continued, “Clearly for me, now as governor, it really is about how we can complete the environment. How can we create opportunities for people so that the electrical engineering graduate from UH today has 40 local job offers and 1 from the mainland? Because that’s really what we want. And if you look at our economy from the 30,000 feet level, the hospitality industry is number one. We started this transition in 1950 when we knew that sugars, plantation, and big agriculture growth was limited and we started to think about the next economic driver in our community.”

Above: The Verifone credit card swipe reader was founded in Hawaii.Image Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr

Above: The Verifone credit card swipe reader was founded in Hawaii.Image Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr

While Hawaii is still largely focused on tourism, some believe diversification is the key to supporting the state’s economy, and the governor subscribes to that idea: “The challenge for us is that we’ve pretty much hit that ceiling to expand, and creating more jobs in the visitor industry really places too much of a burden on the natural resources that impact the community. So what’s the next great job creator for our community? It’s about innovation.” He alluded to how payment tech company Verifone got its start in Hawaii in the 1980s before eventually settling in San Jose, Calif. “If we had the right ecosystem and they stayed here, that definitely would be a great job creator,” he said.

Starting in Hawaii but ending on the mainland

Make no mistake, there are startups in Hawaii, but there are nowhere near as many as you’d find in cities known for being technology hubs. Startups based on the islands are not necessarily concentrated on consumer applications, but are more in tune with “non-sexy” technology fields, such as energy, biotech, and medicine, areas Hawaii is known for.

Above: Hawaii-based Blue Startups brought its portfolio companies to San Francisco in 2016 to demo for investors.Image Credit: Ryan Ozawa

Above: Hawaii-based Blue Startups brought its portfolio companies to San Francisco in 2016 to demo for investors.Image Credit: Ryan Ozawa

But, as the governor said, talent is escaping the islands and as people leave, so do the startups. To counter this trend, Hawaii is working to aggregate enough venture capital to incentivize entrepreneurs to stay. Last year, Governor Ige proposed that there should be consistent state investment in private equity and risk capital. He wants to have the HSDC work alongside accelerators and venture funds to invest in projects.

Chenoa Farnsworth Managing Director, Blue Startups; Managing Director, Hawaii Angels; Director, Hawaii Venture Capital Association; Founder, HI-Impact

Chenoa Farnsworth Managing Director, Blue Startups; Managing Director, Hawaii Angels; Director, Hawaii Venture Capital Association; Founder, HI-Impact

“Yes, it’s a big challenge,” he acknowledged. “I do think it’s about creating an ecosystem…I think it’s about creating an environment. I really do believe it’s a state of mind. People leave because they believe they have a better shot at being successful by going. I think it’s really about getting the startups here and it really takes just one that really commits to staying here. We have a couple of serial entrepreneurs that are committed to Hawaii. To me, that’s just as important as getting the equity. I mean, you want those business owners and entrepreneurs to be invested in Hawaii and really want to have their headquarters here.”

Some of the people I spoke with described a less-than-ideal venture capital environment and said that local investors tended to be gun-shy about putting money in unless they can get a mainland firm like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Sequoia Capital, or Andreessen Horowitz to participate.

“It’s on us to show the world that we can create that quality, competitive company here. We have to create enough companies [in Hawaii] that a VC will see a pattern or trend,” said Chenoa Farnsworth, the managing director of Blue Startups, one of the more active startup accelerators in the state.

Governor Ige remains optimistic: “I do think that it’s a matter of mindset and if we can nurture enough of these startups and get them to the brink — and it’s really about getting one group of entrepreneurs who said that ‘we’re going to plant our flag in Hawaii’. And when they’re successful, other successes will follow.”

It’s about execution

Diversifying a state’s economy and moving forward with innovative technologies is definitely easier said than done, as the state has had at least one major stumble in recent history. In 2016, a Maui-based technology fund for early-stage startups, called Mbloom, was shuttered amid allegations that one of the investors engaged in securities fraud and that the fund’s initial investments were rife with conflicts of interest. The other major investment party to this was the state, and HSDC moved swiftly to terminate the venture, especially since it was supported by taxpayer money.

Hawaii did offer startups tax breaks for doing business in the state some years back, through a law called Act 221. But it was not renewed due to concerns about whether it was really effective. Governor Ige voted in favor of Act 221 when he was a legislator and has previously stated that he believes it was a good law that needed a few tweaks:

“Act 221 could be executed better. When we passed the law, we provided tremendous flexibility to the executive. We had a very broad definition, and we enabled the executive to implement. I believe that part of the challenges and the controversy truly was a result of poor decision-making on execution,” he explained.

Above: Governor David IgeImage Credit: Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Above: Governor David IgeImage Credit: Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

While in his first term as the state’s chief executive, the governor has also proposed establishing a $30 million innovation fund, setting aside money from corporate tax revenues over six years to support startups. First announced in his 2016 State of the State address, Governor Ige revealed that he had submitted legislation that would take $5 million each year for five consecutive years. The money would go into a strategic fund that would be co-invested with a private provider.

“What we’re trying to do is commit a steady flow of income that would allow [the fund investors] to begin to program and set up relationships so they can create a sustained kind of investment pool,” he explained. “It would be $30 million over the next six years that they can count on. I’m pretty confident that in six years, we’ll be able to prove success, that we’ll be able to convince the other legislators to…make bigger investments.”

Above: Hawaii’s Governor David Ige gives his State of the State address in 2016.Image Credit: Screenshot

Above: Hawaii’s Governor David Ige gives his State of the State address in 2016.Image Credit: Screenshot

During this year’s State of the State address, Governor Ige touted the impact of innovation, announcing that 145 startups have gone through six accelerator programs, receiving $10 million in venture capital and generating more than $250 million in total capital. “That’s why the budget includes additional funds for the Hi Growth program,” he said in prepared remarks.

While the state executive and community organizations are behind this diversification effort, how does the general public feel about their taxes being used to boost tech companies? Governor Ige is bullish, telling VentureBeat, “I think that many of us who are residents see the same challenges. Our economy is doing great. Our unemployment is among the lowest in the country. The hospitality industry generates a lot of jobs, but they are living wage jobs. If you look at the median home price at $700,000, a lot of those jobs generated by the visitor industry would [make it] tough to be able to live here.”

As for the business community, he said: “I think they get it. I have three children and they’re all in school. What decisions do we make today to give them the best opportunity to call Hawaii home, to be able to have them graduate and find a challenging and enticing job opportunity in Hawaii that pays them a living wage and allows them to purchase a home so they can choose to call Hawaii home? I think for me, and many of those in our community, it really is about how we can create these opportunities.”

Above: Hawaii Governor Ige at the 2017 STEM conference.Image Credit: State of Hawaii/Flickr While the state executive and community organizations are behind this diversification effort, how does the general public feel about their taxes being used to boost tech companies? Governor Ige is bullish, telling VentureBeat, “I think that many of us who are residents see the same challenges. Our economy is doing great. Our unemployment is among the lowest in the country. The hospitality industry generates a lot of jobs, but they are living wage jobs. If you look at the median home price at $700,000, a lot of those jobs generated by the visitor industry would [make it] tough to be able to live here.” As for the business community, he said: “I think they get it. I have three children and they’re all in school. What decisions do we make today to give them the best opportunity to call Hawaii home, to be able to have them graduate and find a challenging and enticing job opportunity in Hawaii that pays them a living wage and allows them to purchase a home so they can choose to call Hawaii home? I think for me, and many of those in our community, it really is about how we can create these opportunities.”

Above: Hawaii Governor Ige at the 2017 STEM conference.Image Credit: State of Hawaii/Flickr

What Governor Ige, Farnsworth, and others in Hawaii are attempting isn’t new — others in the state have tried to establish a startup community of sorts. In 2012, the governor’s predecessor, Neil Abercrombie, signed into law HB2319, which would appropriate $2 million for a venture accelerator funding program. It was under Abercrombie that the aforementioned Hi Growth program, a state-sanctioned program to engage with the private sector, was created.

In 2013, then-Governor Abercrombie proposed providing $20 million in funding to focus on “the critical building blocks of research commercialization, entrepreneur mentoring, and the mobilization of startup investment capital.”

But while efforts have been made before now, the question is what it will take to make a real dent on the startup ecosystem.

In search of a startup paradise

“I’ve lived [innovation] and kind of understand how it works. I see the ups and downs in it,” Governor Ige said. “I understand how when it’s other people making investment, it’s about the money. So how do we create private equity and risk capital in Hawaii that believes in Hawaii?”

“It’s so funny how at one point in time, green companies were an outlier. People thought: ‘Who cares if your policies are green or if your company takes care of itself?’ Today, you can’t be a successful company if you’re not green,” he continued. “What we’re looking to create are companies that are truly doing the right things in the right way in every step of the way. These are the kind of companies that we want to build.”

To attract talent, startups, and investors, Governor Ige is backing the Startup Paradise initiative that was put forth by the local community and HSDC. As the name suggests, Hawaii believes that its real appeal lies in its being…well, Hawaii. The program also focuses on technological innovation, job growth, and economic strategies aimed at helping the state rival the tech hubs in other markets.

Above: Manoa Innovation Center in Honolulu. Hawaii is home to some of the companies participating in Startup Paradise.Image Credit: Hawaii High Tech Development Corporation

Above: Manoa Innovation Center in Honolulu. Hawaii is home to some of the companies participating in Startup Paradise.Image Credit: Hawaii High Tech Development Corporation

As of 2016, it was reported that 60 percent of the 145 startups participating in the program were based in Hawaii, and 78 percent of those are still operational. Nearly 40 percent of those participating in Startup Paradise are involved in software services, while 32 percent are in energy technology. The remaining startups deal with media (11 percent), hardware (6 percent), agriculture (6 percent), and life science or health care (5 percent).

“Most people think that they can start [in Hawaii], but if I really want to make it, I got to go [to Silicon Valley]. It’s really about creating the support structure so that [entrepreneurs] have the capacity to choose to stay here,” Governor Ige explained. “Once we can get the one or two breakthroughs, then I think it’ll be like a dam bursting. People, given the choice, will want to live in Hawaii. If their business can be successful, they’ll choose here.”

He doesn’t think Silicon Valley should have a monopoly on startups. “Nothing can be harder than Silicon Valley. Hawaii is a piece of cake compared to Silicon Valley, but Silicon Valley thrives. Why is that? It’s about the people. It’s about the human resource in the innovation economy that’s the most important resource.”

“I believe our environment gives us a competitive advantage because that human resource wants to be in Hawaii,” Governor Ige said, echoing statements that have been previously reported. “It’s about really changing the paradigm for our young entrepreneurs to show that, yes indeed, it can happen in Hawaii. And we’re going to create that ecosystem that supports them and that we’re going to be working really hard to make sure that they have a pathway if they want to start a company in Hawaii, that we’re going to provide them support they need to get the second, third, or fourth round [of funding] and that big expansion,” he said.

Above: Hawaii Governor David Ige meets with students at the University of Hawaii College of Engineering banquet.Image Credit: State of Hawaii/Flickr

Above: Hawaii Governor David Ige meets with students at the University of Hawaii College of Engineering banquet.Image Credit: State of Hawaii/Flickr

Major stakeholders concede that this is a long-term endeavor and that the current ecosystem is young, but they also see that it is growing and has potential. “Communities and cultures are not built overnight, and startup communities are no exception,” explained Dawn Lippert, a director at Elemental Excelerator, in a 2014 interview.

Rather than going head-to-head with every other technology hub around the world, Hawaii is opting to focus on a select group of clusters, areas where the state holds a competitive advantage. The state has pledged to support 100 percent renewable energy, ethnic and cultural diversity, biomedical and pharmaceutical research, Hawaii’s cancer center, and hospitality and tourism.

Is Governor Ige worried about any negative impact of innovation, such as gentrification and people being priced out of their home, things that have plagued cities such as San Francisco? He acknowledges the risk, but said: “It’s about changing the trajectory of Hawaii: What is it that we want? We want to support the innovators and creators that are committed to what’s special about Hawaii. It’s really about the integration of the host culture…celebrating diversity. I believe that Hawaii is the best place to raise kids and a family, bar none. So how do we keep it going?”

Above: Hawaii Governor David Ige signs order instructing departments to submit documents using an electronic routing form template.Image Credit: State of Hawaii

Above: Hawaii Governor David Ige signs order instructing departments to submit documents using an electronic routing form template.Image Credit: State of Hawaii

As part of that vision, the governor is in favor of disruptive technologies, even those that have run afoul of regulators, such as Uber and Airbnb:

“Uber is successful and the traditional business guys want to shut them down because their platform, their technology, and business model is so different from the existing. But the flip side is that their business models respond exactly to the concerns that the traditional business lived with and built…”

“So yes, it is disruptive,” he said, “and yes, we don’t want to clamp down and regulate them in the traditional sense. So how do we create an environment that is flexible? From a government side, that’s a challenge for us. I’ve challenged my cabinet to reinvent government to be flexible and innovate itself. How do we make sure that we don’t apply the same old regulatory tendencies onto these new areas? I’m not exactly certain, but I’ve encouraged the cabinet to think outside the box and encourage employees to not be close-minded and to think differently. I’m committed.”

As governor, Ige has also vetoed a bill that required online lodging services such as Airbnb to collect state and local taxes.

“It’s really about creating a vibrant innovation economy so that we can have the investment capital and we can find and grow the innovators here in our community that understand what it means to be in Hawaii, why it’s special, and why we have to take care of the environment, be respectful, and to celebrate the host culture, and celebrate our differences…Once we’ve gotten that first success, the rest of that will happen,” he said.

Talk Story with Blue Startups in Honolulu

 

By Hoala Greevy, Paubox
Posted May 9, 2017

Paubox-Talk_Story_Blue_Startups_Honolulu-img1

Blue Startups Cohort 9

Last week I stopped by Blue Startups for a talk story session with their latest cohort [9]. I ran into Jared Kushi earlier in the week and he asked me to stop by the office.

Having graduating the 500 Startups accelerator only a handful of months prior, I didn’t feel especially qualified to speak to members of another accelerator. My job as Founder CEO however, is to gladly accept such opportunities. So I showed up early and went to work. Paubox is on network time.

I was asked to talk about:

  • B2B Sales.
  • Fundraising.
  • Scaling.
  • HUSTLE.

I admittedly went off course and also discussed:

I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to talk story at Blue Startups!

About Blue Startups

Chenoa Farnsworth, Managing Partner of Blue Startups

Chenoa Farnsworth, Managing Partner of Blue Startups

Blue Startups is focused on recruiting capital efficient and scalable technology companies. This would include web, software, and mobile startups.

They recruit from Hawaii, Asia and North America. In addition, Blue Startups targets companies in certain sectors:

  • Travel technology
  • Gaming
  • B2B solutions.

Lastly, they are keenly interested in companies addressing both East and West markets.

Ikaika Sheehan and Chuck Liddell (not a typo)

Ikaika Sheehan and Chuck Liddell (not a typo)

The setup at Blue Startups

The setup at Blue Startups

About Hoala Greevy Hoala Greevy is the Founder CEO of Paubox Inc., a provider of HIPAA compliant email and online forms. He likes to go kayak fishing when possible.
About Hoala Greevy

Hoala Greevy is the Founder CEO of Paubox Inc., a provider of HIPAA compliant email and online forms. He likes to go kayak fishing when possible.

Entrepreneurial ecosystem helps boost isle tech firms

 

By Sara Lin, The Star Advertiser
Posted May 2, 2017

Sara Lin of the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation wrote an article on Hawaii’s growing startup ecosystem, featuring Blue Startups alumni aXessPoint (formerly The Condo App) and Smart Yields, that describes the importance of having strong entrepreneurial actors to attract entrepreneurs.

In the startup community we talk about “the ecosystem” because it’s what attracts entrepreneurs. Accelerators, investment funds and co-working spaces are all critical pieces that help entrepreneurs hit the ground running.

Read the full article here.

UNUM – Five Simple Things You Must Do If You Want To Succeed On Instagram


By Joel Contartese, Forbes
Posted April 20, 2017

 

Instagram has recently made quite a few changes to their platform, including live stories, carousel posts and shoppable photo tags. These changes all provide new opportunities for brands to monetize the platform.

Assuming you’re new to Instagram, or just haven’t had much luck yet, let’s start with the basics. Below, I’ve listed five simple but useful tips to help you achieve your Instagram marketing goals.

1. A Cohesive Instagram Grid

The first step is to lay out your photos in a way that not only makes people want to scroll through your grid but also incentivizes them to follow your account. If your page is messy and there is no consistency in your messaging, then all of your growth efforts will be wasted.

 You can create a free-flowing Instagram grid by sticking to a photo positioning strategy. Make sure you don’t overuse certain colors, patterns or filters to help keep your grid easy on the eyes. Instagram is a fast-paced platform where aesthetics play just as big of a role as the substance of your content. I recommend an app called UNUM, which allows you to create a grid and visualize it prior to posting.

2. Engaging Captions

An image catches the eye, a caption captures the mind. Writing a captivating caption begins with understanding the “give before you take” rule. Not every caption needs a call to action — some can purely be educational. Providing value is more important than asking your followers to do something.

 For example, when posting an image of a healthy recipe, do not ask your followers to click the link in your bio to read more. Instead, include the full recipe with instructions on the actual post. This will give the user a feeling of trust with your brand and encourage them to tag their friends.

3. Consistency 

A posting schedule you can actually follow is a must. Think of all the different content variations that align with your brand and your consumers. Create a posting schedule that allows for 2-3 posts per day and tackles major aspects of your ideal customer lifestyle. An Instagram feed should not only be product/service based. Providing value is essential to growth and retention.

4. Follower Engagement 

There is nothing more exciting than having your favorite brand respond to your comments, like your pictures or comment on a photo you tagged them in. Whether a user is asking a question, raising a concern or even complaining on your page, always address it.

The worst thing you can do is leave unanswered comments, delete complaints or block people. Social media gives people a voice. Encourage it and you will see results. Attempt to take it from them and they will go out of their way to spread negativity about your brand.

5. The Emotional Connection

Oftentimes new brands get caught up in the idea that professional photos are the only way to go. I’m here to tell you that this isn’t true. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to have quality content. On many occasions, users will create it for you. Not only is this cost-effective, but it also fosters one of the most important components of any social media strategy — the emotional connection.

 User-generated content is very valuable; it provides others with the validation or “social proof” they need to consider your product/service. In fact, 92% of social media users trust user-generated content more than traditional advertising.

These five steps will help ensure you have a strong foundation onto which you can build a successful Instagram strategy.

UNUM – The Apps Every Instagram Fanatic Needs To Have On Their Phone

By Sabrina Carder, Elle
Posted April 20, 2017

UNUM

Talking of Instagram themes, are you a bit of a neat freak? You know what we’re talking about, the squares have to match perfectly, you’re a sucker for everything being matchy-matchy. Plus, you’ve had sleepless nights because your feed was looking ever so slightly ‘off.’

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Sound familiar? Then you need UNUM, an Instagrammer’s best friend.

The app is a layout tool, which has the same configuration as Instagram. It allows you to upload potential images into the grid and play about with their placement, meaning you can create that perfect Instagram theme. Yeah we know, it’s a perfectionist’s heaven.

UNUM – This Free App Makes Your Instagram Feed More Attractive Than Ever

By Quentin Decaillet, Fstoppers
Posted April 29, 2017

Instagram is a fantastic tool for photographers to promote their work. It’s not incredibly complicated to get the hang of it: post your pictures, add a description along with a couple of hashtags, and people can find your images. However, if you’ve been using it long enough, you may have noticed that your stream quickly looks like a mass of pictures with no continuity. Since the app doesn’t allow for pre-planned posts, it’s difficult to keep a visually appealing account. That is unless you use an app such as UNUM to help you out.

UNUM is an app for mobile devices which lets you create a virtual grid of images. Its interface is very intuitive. No need for a user guide or lengthy tutorials. Open it up, connect it to your Instagram account, and load all the images you’d like to post.

From there, you can organize them on a virtual grid to make sure your stream of images is attractive for viewers. The goal should be to make your audience want to scroll your whole feed. To make the posting process even more efficient and quick, you can write in advance the description for each image your import in the app. Then, with a simple press of a button, you can copy and paste the description and picture to Instagram. It’s even possible to be reminded when to post so that you never forget the high peaks of the day.

Best of all, unless you have tons of pictures to post across multiple accounts, the app is entirely free. So if you are serious about Instagram and want to try and keep a slightly better-looking stream, be sure to give it a try. UNUM is available on both the App Store and Google Play.