Kingsley Edwards – Leet.gg and Rogue – Esports integration

Leet

By Sam Cooke, Esports Insider – November 14, 2016

Kingsley Edwards is the CEO and Founder of Leet.gg, which provides consumers an end-to-end tournament management solution, and he’s also a co-founder of Rogue.gg the team which DJ and Producer Steve Aoki invested in not too long ago.

We had a chat to talk esports entering casinos, Facebook rumours and more.

Kingsley Edwards, Leet
Kingsley Edwards, Leet

ESI: Hi Kingsley, can you introduce Esports Insider readers to what it is you do at Leet and your background in esports?

Kingsley: I am the founder & CEO of Leet. We provide technology and know-how to integrate esports and video games with casino groups in order for them to attract a younger demographic.

I mostly work on business and product development. Gaming has been a part of my life since I was a child starting with the original Nintendo. I started getting heavily involved in the PC scene with Counter-Strike 1.0 and StarCraft while in high school. I started Leet in 2013 with just an idea for me to play against others  for money in the then new CSGO. Since then, we’ve been focusing more on B2B integrations.

Currently, I am also co-owner of the #1 Overwatch team in the world (rogue.gg) along with Steve Aoki and a few other partners.

ESI: How did Steve enter the fray?

Kingsley: Steve has been a passionate gamer all his life. He was looking to get more involved in the esports scene and lucky for us we were talking to the right people at the right time. Now he’s taking more of an active role in the industry by attending events and promoting the team.

ESI: With Amazon seemingly set to enter the mobile esports space in a big way, what is your take on the potential for mobile esports at large? What makes for a great competitive mobile game and how can brands get involved?

Kingsley: In my opinion, mobile esports still has some way to go. It seems like Vainglory is off to a great start though. I don’t follow the space too closely yet. There’s enough in the competitive PC world that I need to keep up with!

ESI: You recently sponsored the Esports and Casino Resorts conference in Vegas. What’s your opinion on how casinos can bring esports into their ecosystems and appeal to gamers without alienating some of their current comfortable clientele?

Kingsley: Casinos can attract gamers as players and spectators. There’s more crossover than you think when it comes to traditional casino clientele and gamers. We currently host weekly tournaments at the Downtown Grand and Silver Sevens in Las Vegas. We have also done events at the D and the Westgate. We feel that our tournament platform is a good way to bridge the gap. Our other technologies include skill-based p2p wagering and chance-based applications.

ESI: We’ve heard rumours recently about Facebook making moves into the streaming space. Do you think Twitch has been around long enough to establish brand loyalty, and moreover what can it do to prepare for this invasion of its space by such a big player?

Kingsley: Twitch still owns the streaming space but I look forward for Facebook and others to gain marketshare. A lot of gamers will stick with Twitch and YouTube since it’s been their only comforting outlet for so long.

ESI: For a newcomer to the scene that wishes to host an esports tournament. Talk us through the differences, in your opinion of hosting one online or a LAN, in your opinion which is tougher and what are the pros and cons involved?

Kingsley: LAN events are more work but I feel like once you have it down they may be easier because you control everything that goes on in the space. Tournaments can be very frustrating to deal with but also very rewarding when run smoothly. Luckily I have a team now that has “been there done that” and we are comfortable rolling with the punches when we have to.

Why voice assistants will become the center of home entertainment

KeyReply

By Jaja Liao, VentureBeat – March 4, 2017

Voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa may become the center of home entertainment.

Voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa may become the center of home entertainment. Image Credit: Amazon

The mass adoption of the radio changed American homes forever. In 1930, more than 40 percent of American households owned a radio; a decade later, 83 percent owned at least one. The radio brought news, entertainment, music, sports, politics (think Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats), and advertisements to millions of Americans. It was the first time that ordinary people had access to live, broadcasted information from the ease and comfort of their living rooms.

Before the radio, American homes were largely organized around activities such as sleeping and eating. However, after the mass adoption of radio, Americans needed gathering areas to listen to their new radios. Parlors, or drawing rooms, once used for conversation, poker games, or perhaps playing the piano, became living rooms with radios as their focal point. People huddled together to listen. Radio transformed American homes and American home culture, formalizing the concept of a communal, family-style entertainment centerpiece.

Old time radio in living room

After World War II, the television set moved into the mainstream. In the mid-1950s post-war economic boom, 50 percent of American households had a TV, and that percentage grew to 90 percent by 1960. The TV replaced the radio physically — and metaphorically — as the symbol of home entertainment for the living room.

TV in living room old

Since then, add-ons like game consoles, cordless TV micro-consoles like Apple TV and Roku, Wi-Fi connectivity, and more have expanded its capabilities.

TV in living room new

No other consumer product has really challenged the television as the center of living room entertainment for over half a century. But with the popularization of voice assistants such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, the TV may have its first major challenger.

Already more than 8.2 million Amazon Echos have been sold, and it’s predicted that over 24.5 million Amazon Echos and Google Homes will be sold in 2017. These numbers are nowhere near the percentages for radio or TV ownership, but we’re still in the early days of voice assistant adoption. (Amazon Echo was released publicly in June 2015). At the same time, the number of American homes without a TV has doubled in six years.

Some may argue that AR/VR devices are a more serious contender for living room entertainment. But AR/VR is held back by a focus on individual  experiences — at least for now. And o n the spectrum from highly communal TVs and radios to highly personal smartphones and laptops, AR/VR headsets are likely to remain near the latter end.

Now, with this shift toward placing voice assistants at the center of the living room, we will experience endless changes to how we consume (and create) home entertainment. For starters, there’s a new level of convenience and ease (speaking is faster than typing or using a remote). But the most significant change is the opportunity to unify all the components of home entertainment.

For example, we may use a remote to watch TV, a controller to play XBox or PS4, and a phone or laptop to listen to podcasts. In the future, we might use a voice assistant that opens, controls, and uses all of these devices (and content). Couple this functionality with AI-powered voice assistants and we’ll have a home entertainment system that is truly connected and built to know and serve us better over time.

While AI is already being used separately in each component of home entertainment (think Netflix or Pandora), we have yet to see what happens when each piece is no longer a disparate system. Further, the emergence of such a voice assistant will usher in new types of home entertainment to add to this connected system. Examples include the Alexa command that reads books to children, or the Alexa audio game Akinator.

For the first time in over 50 years, we may see a new symbol of home entertainment. The TV won’t physically disappear from our living rooms, but it’s likely to begin losing figurative ground to voice assistants. With a new symbol comes a new era, and it will be exciting to see how voice assistants transform not only our entertainment, but also our homes and, ultimately, our home culture.

Jaja Liao works in mobile partnerships acquisitions at Google.

THE BEST OF STARTUP PARADISE 2017

By Dave Dondoneau, HawaiiBusiness Magazine – March 2017

Learn about the winners and finalists of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association 2017 Awards

Startup Paradise Is Good for All of Us.
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Meli James, president of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association.

Everyone in Hawaii can and should be  an advocate and champion for Startup Paradise, because we all benefit from a vibrant startup culture, says Meli James, president of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association.

One benefit is a startup culture helps keep young kamaaina in the Islands and helps bring others home, says James, who herself came back to Hawaii after a career in Silicon Valley. She now heads new ventures at Sultan Ventures.

She says HVCA’s annual awards raise awareness of the quality and quantity of local startups. And the credibility of the awards helps winners and finalists to establish partnerships, recruit good teams and raise money in the Islands and on the Mainland.

“Normally, what makes it into the media is one of two things,” James says, “failure or success. That is a company going out of business or an acquisition. But there are many successes along the way that should be celebrated, promoted and supported.”

The HVCA Awards also showcase some of Startup Paradise’s many achievements, James says, including the relatively high proportion of female entrepreneurs. “One out of four of our finalists are women. By comparison, the national average is in the single digits. And we hope Hawaii’s numbers increase in years to come.”

Tarik Sultan, managing partner at Sultan Ventures and XLR8UH, and treasurer of the HVCA board, gave a quick overview of Hawaii’s startup culture during a recent HVCA meeting. Among the points he made:

• About 145 startups have gone through four Hawaii accelerator programs over the past four years and a large majority are still alive and growing. There have been two exits. The four accelerators are Blue Startups, XLR8UH, Energy Excelerator and GVS Transmedia Accelerator.

• Those startups have generated a total of $250 million in revenue and funding.

As expected, Sultan says, “A few outlier companies that are outperforming are raising the average for the rest of the startups.” That’s to be expected, but, overall, the trend is upward. One thing that would make a big difference, he says: The local startup community could use more support from established businesses and investors in Hawaii.


DEAL OF THE YEAR

Recognizes the Startup Paradise company that received the largest financial deal of 2016.

 

WINNER: Scott Mercer
Founder, Volta Charging

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Volta Charging launched its pilot program on Oahu in 2012 with six stations.

“There were two (brands of) electric cars on the Island at the time,” Mercer says. “The tide has completely switched today. Even million-dollar Ferraris use our stations. All car companies are building electric cars.”

There are now 212 Volta Charging stations in Hawaii and California, with 500 more under contract to be built. But the deal of the year is for setting up the company to expand nationally. In October, Volta Charging secured $40 million in funding (headed by Virgo Investments) so it can enter Phase III of Mercer’s business plan: stations across the nation.

“We’re just starting in Arizona, Chicago, Seattle and D.C. and we’ll have a couple more locations to follow,” Mercer says. “That is our 2017 goal. We’ll grow from there.”


ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Individual or team that has gone above expectations with their company. A clear example to other entrepreneurs.

 

Finalist – Tina Fitch
Co-founder, Hobnob

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Hobnob’s concept struck Fitch while she was using social media.

“The irony of social media was that it was making us less social,” she says. “I felt people were craving a return to real, offline relationships and dialogue, and want to use technology to enhance our humanity, not detract from it.”

Hobnob is Fitch’s third startup. After creating the successful travel platform Switchfly, Fitch built one of the most popular free-invitation apps. Hobnob can be downloaded to smartphones and, within 60 seconds, users can create their own layout or choose from existing layouts for an invitation. Talk about the life of the party: Hobnob has sent more than 3 million invitations since launching in November 2015.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_4Finalist – Michael Pfeffer
CEO, Ibis Networks

Pfeffer didn’t start out wanting to be a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and venture capitalist.

“Believe it or not I started in archaeology,” he says, “but my passion and focus for the last 20 years has been in helping startups get funded, grow and, ultimately, be successful” – both as an investor/mentor and as a startup CEO.

Ibis, with projected 2017 sales in the low seven figures, is all about saving power. The company’s InteliSockets fit on a regular electrical outlet and become part of a wireless network that monitors each device in real time and allows them to be remote controlled.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_5Finalist – Bianca Tubolino
Founder, Jetset ESL

Tubolino is on the cusp of creating a lucrative venture from a startup that gives free English lessons on Instagram.

Few English teachers want to go to Brazil, since they get paid $8 an hour, she says. So she partnered with Amanda Leal, who owns three English-speaking schools ranked in the top five in Brazil.

Within six months of using Tubolino’s Instagram teaching approach, in which students learn from native English speakers, Leal saw her student retention grow to 98 percent from 85 percent, and her book sales increased 150 percent, Tubolino says.

By mid-2017, Tubolino says, she hopes to secure contracts with some of the largest language-school franchises in Brazil.


PEOPLE’S CHOICE STARTUP – Presented by Hawaii Business magazine

Chosen by the votes of the Innovation Community, this company is a model to others based on its successes, popularity and community support. (Winner to be announced at awards ceremony)

 

Cast Your Vote for People’s Choice Startup of the Year here:
http://bit.ly/hbstartupvote
  |  Deadline: February 20, 2017

 

Finalist – Zachary and Lawrence Hester, FareHarbor, Fareharbor.com

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Lawrence was sleeping on Zachary’s girlfriend’s couch when the brothers signed North Shore Catamaran to be FareHarbor’s first client in 2013. Today, the reservation software company has more than 500 accounts across Hawaii and more than 3,500 throughout the United States. Zachary says it is the world’s largest online booking application, with 130 employees and projections of $3 billion in bookings in 2017.

“When we started we averaged three hours sleep, tops,” he says. “It took a lot of hard work to get here. We’re not sleeping on couches anymore, but we’re not oceanside, either. We’re still growing.”

 

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_7Finalist – Mitzi Toro
Owner, The Maui Cookie Lady

Toro is a teacher turned Cookie-preneur.

She started her business as a fundraiser to thank nurses who took care of her terminally ill father and today her “cookies for a cause” are featured at top hotels on Maui, Lanai and Hawaii Island. themauicookielady.com still has a photo of the ICU staff.

Toro’s goal is global sales while keeping production on Maui. She started shipping across the nation when she resigned from her teaching job and went full time in 2016. This year she will start shipping internationally.

 

Finalist – Bianca Tubolino
Founder, Jetset ESL

See profile under Entrepreneur of the Year

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_8Finalist – Isabella Hughes & Harrison Rice
Co-owners, Shaka Tea

Hughes and Rice were living in Dubai when Hughes, then pregnant, flew home to Oahu.

“All of her aunties kept telling her to drink mamaki tea because of all the health benefits,” Rice says. “When she got back we looked it up and they were right. It has five times the antioxidants of green tea and lots of other benefits.”

The married couple produced their batch of Shaka Tea in April 2016, getting into 100 markets and drawing the attention of Paradise Beverages, which has since ramped up Shaka’s distribution.

“When I go to the Northwest to sell tea, people love the fact that it’s from Hawaii,” Rice says. “There is a huge market out there for this.”

 

Finalist – Vincent Kimura
Co-founder, Smart Yields

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Vincent Kimura (third from left) and the Smart Yields team.

Vincent Kimura likes to call the heart of Smart Yields’ technology “ground satellites.”

“Our sensors are in the crops and give better indications of what is going on than an image from above,” he says.

The vision of Kimura and his five fellow co-founders – Justin Hedani, Isar Mostafanezhad, Ryan Ozawa, Michael Rogers and Lizzy Schiller – is to not only supply farmers with information to maximize their yields, but also interpret the data and offer suggestions on how to get the most out of their crops.

“It’s like crowdsourcing only you don’t see the other farmer’s statistics directly. Our software lets farmers know how others are dealing with the same climates or problems.”

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_10Finalist – Kainoa McGee
Founder, KMBCo.

McGee is one of the top watermen in Hawaii. Professional surfer, bodyboarder, standup-paddle boarder – if it’s in the ocean, he’s on it.

But much of that is on the backburner since he created KMBCo. to help people with disabilities enjoy the ocean. His company is creating “Versatility Krafts,” a half-surfboard/half-canoe that comes with stabilizing  arms on each side similar to outrigger canoes, offering enough stability and room for individuals and families to paddle together.

“There is a bigger need than I initially thought,” McGee says. “There are people in walkers and wheelchairs who look at how big standup-paddle boarding is today and think ‘I can never do that.’ Our Krafts crush that myth.”


SOCIAL IMPACT ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

An entrepreneur or company that substantially contributes to helping solve some of Hawaii’s toughest problems.

 

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Olin Lagon and Kelsey Amos, Purple Mai’a co-founders.

Finalist – Purple Mai‘a
Co-founders Donavan Kealoha, Kelsey Amos, and Olin Lagon

Purple Maia is designed to give underprivileged children exposure to computer science and, after every session, the students fill out surveys. Those surveys put a smile on Kealoha’s face because they show the children gaining confidence and recognizing their abilities.

“These are the communities myself and my co-founders grew up in,” Kealoha says. “We are the throwaway kids not considered the best and the brightest.

Donovan Kealoha, Purple Mai'a co-founder.

Donovan Kealoha, Purple Mai’a co-founder.

They don’t have all the opportunities. But we tell them they can do it from Day 1 and right away they see they are capable and smart enough to do it.”

He expects Purple Maia will be reaching 260 children in 11 schools by the end of the school year.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_13Finalist – Katie Chang
Executive Director, Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders

When students at the center learned that hot classrooms were a problem at Campbell High School, they started crowdfunding and raised $22,000 for air conditioning.

“They took it on themselves,” Chang says. “None of them went to school there. They just saw a need and that’s what this program is about. It gives you a feeling of empowerment that you can do more.”

Chang knows the impact firsthand. In 2004, she was a part of the initial first class when it was a “pet project.” Back then, there were 20 students; now there are 250. In 2013, CTL became a nonprofit and Chang left her job in London to work with kids on the island where she grew up.

Finalist – Kainoa McGee
Founder, KMBCo.

See profile under People’s Choice finalists


CLEAN TECH/AG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

An entrepreneur and company whose technology supports a greener future or helps farmers with innovative agricultural practices.

 

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(from top) Jack Beuttell and Bobby Farias Jr.

Finalist – Jack Beuttell and Bobby Farias Jr.
Co-founders, Kunoa Cattle Co.

Today, 97 percent of the beef eaten in the state is imported, but Kunoa Cattle Co. wants to help make Hawaii self-sufficient in food.

“The problem in Hawaii has never been the capability to raise cattle,” Farias says. “It’s the perfect place because we don’t need to feed them hormones to keep them healthy because of our climate. We can raise grass-fed, free-range cattle from pasture to plate. The problem ranchers here have had in getting their meat to market is we didn’t have enough cold storage or a processing plant that could handle demand.”

Farias and his partners already had cattle and pastureland, but in November they bought Oahu’s only slaughterhouse. He says the Kapolei facility will harvest 40 head a day and offer premium beef and pork.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_15Finalist – Brian Goldstein
Founder, Manoa Botanicals

Goldstein loves helping launch new industries. He worked in Silicon Valley with Oracle when the internet took off and he was a pioneer in the electric-vehicle-charging industry. Today, he is the founder of Manoa Botanicals, holder of one of eight medical marijuana grower licenses in the state.

“It’s not often in Hawaii you can be part of creating a new industry,” he says. “What attracts me is the incredibly fast pace of innovation taking place in this field. This is by far the most rapidly evolving industry I’ve ever been involved with.”

What’s changing most rapidly is how people ingest marijuana and continue to find new medicinal purposes for it, he says.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_16Finalist – Dennis Furukawa
Founder, RealGreen Power

When he was an architect, Furukawa says, he would push his clients for environmental solutions, but the ideas often fell on deaf ears. Now that he’s an entrepreneur and land developer, he takes matters into his own hands.

“The two real critical blocks for land development is where to get water and where to put sewage,” he says. Those are keystones to sustainability. He says that’s why he founded RealGreen Power, a company devoted to producing clean energy and clean water without pollution or waste.

“We’re working on a project now with Blue Planet on the Big Island that involves recycling a quarter of a million gallons of wastewater a day that will be used for creating landscaping on the moonscape of Kohala.”


CORPORATE INTRAPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

A person who creatively challenges traditions and changes a company’s culture to ensure fellow employees are engaged and can be intrapreneurial.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_17Finalist – Ian Kitajima
Director of corporate development, Oceanit

If the crowd turns left, Ian Kitajima is sure to go right.

It is the way of Oceanit, and the 1983 Castle High School grad embodies the tech company’s policy of constant change and looking beyond the normal.

“I call where I go the ‘white spaces,’” says Kitajima. “It’s part of my job to go where nobody else does because that’s where the person with the new idea or innovation is.”

Internally, he’s called the “Tech Sherpa” because he is both a recruiter and someone who discerns what customers really want from what they say.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_18Finalist – Dora Nakafuji
Director of Renewable Energy Planning, Hawaiian Electric Co.

Nakafuji is a linchpin for renewable energy across Hawaii. Solar, wind, geothermal, wave – when an alternative source touches the grids of the Hawaiian Electric Co., she’s probably had a hand in making it work.

Her nomination comes from the dozens of vendors she coordinates as she leads HECO’s charge to integrate and harness all the alternative energies and get them working together. Other utilities across the country are watching HECO innovate with new technology and programs.

“I see it coming soon where customers will get more involved in how they’re using their energy,” Nakafuji says. “It’s not demand response, it’s more like grid response or demand plus grid response.”

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_19Finalist – Stacy Clayton
Executive Strategy Consultant, Strategy & Innovation Division, Kamehameha Schools

Clayton is proud that KS has created a Strategy & Innovation Division. “It’s a bold statement that this isn’t status quo,” Clayton says. “This is a commitment to growing the next great venturer, innovator or entrepreneur.”

Clayton’s new role includes finding ways to make sure Hawaiians get the best opportunities to succeed in the future. Two programs that helped lead to her nomination are a new meeting house on Beretania Street, Halau Inana ma Kapaakea, where Clayton says innovation and creation come to life, and her mapping of youth, collegiate and adult innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems statewide.


LIFE SCIENCE ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

The entrepreneur whose company’s innovation helps solve some of the biggest problems in health care.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_20Finalist – Jeffrey Yu
CEO, Kineticor

Yu was starting his career as a radiologist when a co-worker took him to his first medical trade show.

“I remember seeing the MRI images at the show and being blown away because ours never came out that clear,” Yu says. “I was going off on them and my friend quietly turned to me and asked, ‘Jeff, what type of patient are in these pictures?’ It was cadavers. Ah, yes. The reason they were so clear was the patient wasn’t moving. That never happens in real life.”

Kineticor’s motion-correcting technology is expected to cost about $100,000 per unit, Yu says, meaning it will easily pay for itself by eliminating poor images and misdiagnoses.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_21Finalist – Luke Joseph
Founder, iFirst Medical Technologies

iFirst’s technology is complex, but its life-saving app operates simply.

“We’re measuring the blood’s performance with the use of smartphone technology that can be sent to doctors within seconds,” Joseph says. “Five million people die from trauma injuries every year and this test can save 20 percent of those lives. That just scratches the surfaces of how this will be used.”

iFirst has one job: Measure how fast blood is coagulating. When medics get that one vital piece of information, Joseph says, they can stop bleed outs and other problems. He is hoping for FDA approval this year and to launch in 2018.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_22Finalist – Andrea Fleig
Co-founder, Cythera Pharmaceuticals

If all goes as planned, in about four years, a patented cream made with drugs already approved by the FDA will be on the market to bring relief to nearly 8 million Americans suffering from psoriasis. If it works on that autoimmune disease, Fleig says, it would likely work on Vitilgo (Michael Jackson’s skin discoloring disease) and systemic administration for multiple sclerosis.

“We just call it Cytherazine after the name of our company for now, but we’ll leave the real naming to whichever major drug company buys it from us.”

Fleig and her husband/business partner Reinhold Penner are clinical researchers at Queen’s and founded CyThera in 2014 to reposition FDA-approved drugs for new therapeutic indications based on ion channel targets.


STARTUP PARADISE CHAMPIONS

Someone who consistently contributes to the successes of Hawaii’s startup community.

 

WINNER: Burt Lum and Ryan Ozawa
Bytemarks Cafe

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Ryan Ozawa (left) and Burt Lum (right)

When Ryan Ozawa attended the HVCA awards last year, he was happy to see that nearly every one of the nominees had appeared on Bytemarks Cafe, the science and technology show on Hawaii Public Radio that he co-hosts live with Burt Lum every Wednesday at 5 p.m.

When he learned the list of this year’s nominees, it was the same thing, only this time he’s a double nominee with Burt Lum as a co-host for Bytemarks and as a co-founder of Smart Yields, where one of his partners, Vincent Kimura, worked as an intern with him 20 years ago.

“Now he’s my boss,” Ozawa says, chuckling. “Our show tries to do the same thing HVCA does. We look for the innovators and developers, the people making a difference. Burt and I don’t get paid, but we’ve done over 400 shows just because we love it.”


ISLAND INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR

Celebrating innovations that help islands like Hawaii’s, solving a major problem in communities, the ocean or the aina.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_25Finalist – Henk Rogers
CEO, Blue Planet Energy

Rogers made his fortune by bringing the video game Tetris to the world, but his mission today is to eliminate fossil fuels and carbon footprints globally.

“But if I’m going to ask others to do it, I need to do it myself,” he says.

His Hawaii Island ranch and Honolulu home run entirely on renewable solar and wind energy that is stored for use when there is no sun or wind by technology created by Blue Planet Energy.

Rogers’ team evaluated batteries by Tesla and Sony before deciding which to use. “We chose Sony because it uses ferrous phosphate and is safer. The batteries have a longer life, up to 20 years, and they aren’t flammable.”

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_26Finalist – Todd Madsen
President, Blue Ocean Mariculture

From hatch to harvest, Kona-based Blue Ocean Mariculture is bringing Hawaiian Kampachi to market with a goal of protecting the ocean environment.

“Seafood consumption is growing quickly, but the size of our oceans is not,” Madsen says. “We need to protect wild ocean ecosystems from the growing global demand for seafood proteins. Our team thinks that responsible mariculture is an important part of the solution by providing a safe, alternative supply of high quality seafood.”

“We also hope to bring other Hawaiian marine species to market in the coming years.”

 

Finalist – Dennis Furukawa
Founder, RealGreen Power

See profile on under Clean Tech/Ag Entrepreneur


TECH ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Honoring the entrepreneur who has created technology and innovation to make our lives better.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_27Finalist – Alex Cabello
Co-founder, AlgorithmHub

Netflix uses algorithm technology to recommend movies to viewers based on what they’ve already watched. That’s the technology Cabello wants AlgorithmHub to provide to smaller companies who can’t afford to create it on their own.

AlgorithmHub will allow users to find, share and run algorithms in the cloud. The concept is to create communities around algorithms, thus accelerating their adoption and minimizing reinvention. The UH Cancer Center and the NSA are already customers, Cabello says.

“We work closely to see what the client’s needs are. This helps eliminate, for example, doctors solving the same problem over and over because they lose what they did the first time around or don’t share findings.”

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_28Finalist – Ikaika Sheehan
Co-founder, Activiter

Two friends interested in golf tours started a phone app for last-minute Hawaii deals and that venture’s blossomed into a nine-person tech company that helps travel companies sell tours and activities.

Activiter lets users research, find and book travel experiences in real time, Sheehan says. “My partner (Rob LaFontaine) and I went to Blue Startups 18 months ago and they suggested we talk to vendors about they want and what is missing. We went to Waikiki and talked to people. It paid off. By 2020 we hope to be in Europe.”

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_29Finalist – Sudesh Kumar
Founder and CEO, Kapalya

Kapalya is an application that encrypts data on endpoints, corporate servers and cloud servers in addition to authenticating the users, Kumar says. And, “It seamlessly establishes VPN tunnels so all data in transit from the endpoints to corporate or cloud servers are encrypted.”

People create copies of data when they download confidential documents from corporate servers onto their laptops, or email copies to their personal e-mails. “In doing so, they have left a copy of that confidential data on their laptop, or the cloud server where their email service is hosted (such as Yahoo or Gmail). If this data is not encrypted at all these locations, then they could get compromised with a data leak.”


STUDENT ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Honoring a younger member of the innovative community with a passion for learning and the tenacious spirit of an entrepreneur.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_30Finalist – Kyle Chang
Co-founder, HealthTechApps 

Chang has had two concussions: Once from playing high school football, and the other from snowboarding in Oregon.

The consequences for him are not serious, but concussions are major problems for many people. So the UH undergrad has partnered with Rick Abelmann and aunt Noe Foster to create a smartphone app designed to support concussion therapy and diagnosis.

Users video themselves while answering three questions: What are the top three songs on your playlist? Where do you want to travel and why? What is your cheat meal? The videos are kept by a medical provider and, if concussion is expected, the questions will be asked again to monitor the patient’s well being.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_31

(from top) Zak Barry, Matt Hong, and Luke Untermann.

Finalist – Zak Barry, Matt Hong, Luke Untermann, Galen McCleary
Co-founders, Banan

They wanted to be entrepreneurs with a purpose. The four 2010 Punahou grads and longtime friends found what they were seeking in bananas.

“When we tried this vegan ‘nicecream’ recipe that was made from bananas, the simplicity of it blew us away because it tasted so much like ice cream but was easy to make,” Hong says. “Once we came up with the local farm-to-table concept, realizing Hawaii is one of the few states where bananas are locally grown, everyone moved back from across the country and Asia to start this up and it’s been going great.”

They started with a food truck purchased off Craigslist in 2014 and last year opened their first brick-and-mortar shop, on the corner of University and Metcalf streets.

 

HB0317_HVCA_IMG_32Finalist – Rob Saito
Founder and President, Herbavore

Saito has always dreamed big. His latest venture is Herbavore Tools, a customized-tool company that he thinks could revolutionize the gardening industry.

“We’ve got two patents pending and we’re about to submit our third,” says the 27-year-old MBA student. “When I was younger, I worked at a nursery and I’d always get blisters. With traditional gardening tools, you either sacrifice quality or comfort. I created a website where customers can measure their palms and get the handle that fits their size: medium, large, small. We streamlined how they’re made so you can customize color, shape, size.”

Saito founded Herbavore in May 2016 and is fundraising while working with XLR8UH on a business model.

Business Startup Spotlight: Virtual Fantasy League

vfl

By Sandra Sloan, FundingSage – February 28, 2017

Virtual Fantasy League is a simple to play, easy to learn, highly social fantasy sports game.

Name: Virtual Fantasy League

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Website: www.virtualfantasyleague.com

Product / Service Offering: Free to Play Fantasy Sports Mobile Game

Co-founder Interviewed: Gary Ma

Other Key Management Team Members: David Uy, Winston Kuit, Owen Ma

This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.

Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.

I’m a serial entrepreneur and have built businesses in a variety of industries ranging from live music entertainment, to retail, to technology.

No matter what current life cycle my business is experiencing, I will always have a passion for this stage – the startup phase. It’s exciting and fast paced. You can learn and adapt. You can create something from nothing, which motivates me. Another aspect that motivates me is the teamwork. In a startup, your cofounders are your family, quite literally. You spend more time with them than anyone else. They are the ones you communicate with most, and you depend on them at this moment in your life more than anyone. I’m fortunate to have the best team and cofounders out there.

When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?

The company was incorporated in October 2015, but David had begun doing extensive research into the market and opportunity early in 2015. One year after incorporation our company launched a fantasy football game on the App Store in September 2016; and will be following up with basketball and baseball early in 2017 as well.

The idea for Virtual Fantasy League (VFL) first spawned when David, who is a die-hard fantasy player, witnessed the problems plaguing the industry. Some of which were lack of transparency, real money wagering, and insider trading. David himself is not a “gambler” so immediately wondered why there isn’t a product where you can play for free and for fun.

Our team has lots of experience with social networks, having built China’s first bilingual social network. David is also an inventor of two social search technology patents. So with our background, we knew we could create a much better experience for sports fans, connect the casual with the die-hard and bring fantasy mainstream. Our mission is to spark and spread the love of sports, one person, one game, one day at a time.

What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?

Fantasy sports can be difficult to learn, is time consuming, and recently has become associated with real-money wagering. The Virtual Fantasy League is a simple to play, easy to learn, highly social fantasy sports game. We make fantasy sports accessible to everyone, and connect the casual sports fans with the die-hard, creating one universal platform where they can play, talk and research sports.

What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?

One very apparent differentiation is the business model. Our competitors are gambling platforms. Players wager real money in contests against other players and the winners win real money. As a result, highly skilled players win all the money, and 90% of the players end up losing money. This is an unsustainable model.

The Virtual Fantasy League is a free-to-play model, which means everyone can enjoy the entire experience of the game for free. It has nothing to do with gambling. Now everyone can be included risk free, including the fastest demographic of fantasy sports players (teens and people under 21).

Just like other highly successful casual games (Candy Crush, Clash of Clans), Virtual Fantasy League makes money from the small percentage of people who choose to spend money and enhance their in-game experience (in-app purchases). This model is proven, and sustainable for all users on the platform.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?

A challenge we faced early on was communicating what was special about our offering to those less familiar with sports.

A unique challenge we faced was the fact that our offering is a hybrid product. On one hand, it’s a fantasy sports app, on the other, it’s a casual game.  Traditionally these two types of product have different characteristics. I believe we are able to overcome this with our unique approach using, patent pending, gamification, and now VFL benefits from being a hybrid. We have the loyalty and retention of sports fans and the mass audience appeal of the casual gaming market. VFL is positioned to really disrupt the fantasy sports industry.

Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?

Finding the right tools can really set your company in the right direction and waste less of your valuable time. Some of the ones we use are:  Nimble (CRM), Hubspot (CRM, Marketing), Kickoff Labs (Landing page and referral system), Hotjar (Heat mapping), Growth Hackers Projects (Idea mapping), Trello, Slack, and Branch Analytics.

What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?

We’ve been fortunate to have great support early from friends and angels that have witnessed the successes our team has achieved together in the past and know what we are capable of. We have raised $450,000 to-date.

A suggestion to my earlier self would be to develop a more defined sales process for the fundraising. It is using a CRM tool, creating a funnel and a sales process, and also delivering consistent updates to our prospects with our progress so investors see a progression rather than a snapshot of our company.

What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?

Well, while no hacks have yet to be given, guess there’s no such thing as a free lunch, there have been some that have been immensely helpful to us. Through Blue Startups, Henk Rogers is a shareholder in VFL and is also our lead mentor. We meet every week and his guidance has been phenomenal. Here is the man who brought TETRIS to the world. It is the most popular casual game of all time! Now he is working with us to create the first casual fantasy sports game.

Women Entrepreneurs Spotlight: MOJO Yoga

 MOJOYoga

By Liz Bennett, FundingSage – February 23, 2017

MOJO Yoga is uniquely special for our focus on helping yoga teachers, or what we like to call “yogapreneurs.” MOJO is the only platform dedicated to helping yoga teachers sharpen their skills and accelerate the growth of their businesses.

The Company

Name: MOJO Yoga

Location: Maui, HI

Website: mymojoyoga.com

Product / Service Offering: MOJO Yoga is a platform for yoga teachers to grow their businesses and connect with their students outside the studio in one convenient web-based platform, offering on-demand videos, premium courses, and live group and 1-on-1 sessions for students with any of our community of international yoga teachers.

Co-founder Interviewed: Jean Marie Johnson, CEO and Co-founder

Other Key Management Team Members: Bella Doty, CMO and Co-founder; Jen Fry, COO and Co-founder; Scott Johnson, CVO and Co-founder

This article is part of our Women Entrepreneurs Spotlight Series featuring female entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.

Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?

I’m a gritty yogi, frothing surfer, technology lover, obsessive doggie mom, serendipitous entrepreneur, and persistent optimist.

When I completed my degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, I had no idea how handy it would be for my future of creating and implementing the kind of outrageously ambitious world well-being ventures I work on today.

To date, I’m a registered yoga instructor with E-RYT500-level certification, the highest level currently certified by Yoga Alliance, the nation’s largest certifying body. I’ve worked hard to co-found and boot strap a few yoga and lifestyle business iterations along the way and have finally found my happy place with MOJO Yoga. I’m thrilled to bring my vision of personalized online yoga to a growing worldwide mob of students and teachers alike.

My ultimate vision is to make MOJO a hub for all the tools one might need to create and live a balanced, happy, fulfilled lifestyle.

When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?

We started MOJO Yoga as a team in April of 2016, and it grew out of our shared passion for improving our own lives, and a vision of helping others develop that skill, too. At the heart of all of our personal transformation is yoga. We want to make this practice more accessible than ever for anyone else who shares the same desire to become better human beings each day.

We are excited by and driven to realize our vision of MOJO as a global hub that improves the lives of yoga teachers and students one yoga practice at a time.

What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?

As a yoga teacher, I saw huge barriers for teachers to access a monetized online platform for our teachings, in order to expand our teaching businesses beyond the limited reach of a local studio. Let’s face it, YouTube stardom is hard to come by, and the big online yoga companies focus on celebrity teachers who’ve already “made it”. Sure, a teacher could try to build and maintain a membership website by herself, but that’s a monumental time and money suck.

Our solution is a grassroots-style approach: any quality teacher can create classes on their schedule for MOJO to share their teachings globally and earn recurring commissions on the memberships they sell to students every month. It’s like getting to teach a class once and earn recurring income on it indefinitely. Plus, with our live group and 1-on-1 class offerings, teachers can still fulfill that need for direct teacher-student connection that we all crave for our practices to grow. With these truly unique offerings in the online yoga landscape, MOJO will be the go-to hub for all yoga teachers who want to teach online.

What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?

MOJO Yoga is uniquely special for our focus on helping yoga teachers, or what we like to call “yogapreneurs.” MOJO is the only platform dedicated to helping yoga teachers sharpen their skills and accelerate the growth of their businesses. Our teachers love MOJO Yoga for the full-service website we offer, so they can avoid the hassle of building and maintaining their own membership site, and instead focus on sharpening their business and teaching skills in our expert training portal, so that they can offer top quality content to more students than they could ever reach in local studios and earn more revenue for their own teaching business.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?

We’re a small, non-technical team with a technical product. So, we’ve really had to be creative problem solvers along the way! Our best asset really has been our ability to constantly think outside the box, create something out of nothing, and assemble seemingly unrelated puzzle pieces of technology into a beautifully functioning machine.

Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?

So many! We utilize literally hundreds of resources all the time. But by far and away our best resource to date has been the Blue Startups Accelerator program we’re currently participating in here in Honolulu, HI. It’s a startup bootcamp that’s pushed us along at a faster pace than we’ve ever hit to date. To be clear, it’s exhausting and challenging, but so worth it. The access we’ve had to expert advisors and mentors has been invaluable to say the least. If you have a startup, do everything you can to get into an accelerator like this as early on as you can.

What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?

The Blue Startups program was the first investment we secured, and we’re getting a lot of help in securing more through the program and the contacts we’re making here. The only thing I would do differently is start earlier. I simply lacked the confidence in myself as an entrepreneur to even apply to accelerators for fear of being rejected or not being good enough. Today, I would tell my past self to tackle that fear of rejection head-on, and the sooner, the better. The worst you can hear is “no.” Keep going until you get a “yes!”

Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?

I’ve found it very difficult to wrap my head around funding, valuations, negotiations, terms, etc. It’s one aspect of running a startup that seems to have the most conflicting opinions, arbitrary numbers, and shifting definitions. You could talk to 100 people and get 100 different opinions. That can be a very difficult thing for an early-stage founder to navigate.

What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?

As a 3/4 women-owned business, and a yoga business at that, we’re finding it difficult to present our business to investors who don’t really “get” the industry we’re in, and perhaps don’t see too many female founders either. Overcoming that challenge lies squarely in our hands. We have to seek out as many new and different types of investors as we can. We know that the right investors for us are out there; investors who will be excited by the unique perspective of our female-dominated team and the disruptive product we’re bringing to a massive yoga market.

What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?

Affiliate marketing and social media campaigns. We work with affiliate marketing both within our business, making our teachers and ambassadors affiliates who promote membership, and with relevant partner products, especially on our podcast. We also have a lot of fun with social media campaigns to grow our audience, like yoga challenges, personality quizzes (i.e. “What’s your yoga spirit animal?”), polls to choose our newest clothing items to offer, and farting stick figure videos that explain our business (seriously, our most successful campaign to date by far). Those campaigns allow us to connect with and grow our audience in a fun and engaging way.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?

Yes! MOJO Yoga is for all certified yoga teachers, and we want to grow a global teacher community. If you or anyone you know is a yoga teacher, spread the word and join us on our website at mymojoyoga.com. Let’s face it, we could all use a little more yoga in our lives. Let’s connect and grow together through yoga!

Advice to women entrepreneurs:

Be confident in yourself and your abilities. Know that you can take on anyone and any task that comes your way. Don’t let any stodgy old men get you down. Play their game, but play it by your rules. Always attend to your vision and your mission, and let that guide your way. The landscape of your business might have to be fluid and flexible every day, but a strong mission will always keep you on track to your highest and best good. Know that you are truly special and valuable for the work you’re doing, that you’re an inspiration to all the girls who will follow in your footsteps, and your work will change our world!

Business Startup Spotlight: Hostfully

By Sandra Sloan, FundingSage – February 21, 2017

Hostfully helps hosts (both individual hosts and vacation rental management companies) be better hosts.

Name: Hostfully, Inc.

Location: San Francisco, CA

Website: www.hostfully.com

Product / Service Offering: Hospitality platform for vacation rental management companies

Co-founder Interviewed: David Jacoby, Co-founder and President

Other Key Management Team Members: Margot Schmorak, Co-founder and CEO; Noah Neiman, Co-founder and Head of Product

This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.

Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.

I am a startup enthusiast and have worked my whole career in startups. I enjoy getting my hands dirty and solving real-world problems and improving efficiencies. I love learning by doing, and learning all aspects of how a business is run.

On a personal note, I love to travel, as well as host travelers in my home from around the world. I think travel makes the world smaller. It creates more connections and understanding of different cultures, which is what we need in times like these.

When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?

In 2010, my wife and I took a one year sabbatical and traveled around the world. We visited 27 countries in five continents, and stayed in 38 people’s homes during that journey, including places such as Lima, Cairo, Jerusalem, Kigali, Hanoi, and Phnom Penh (from traditional vacation rentals, to Couchsurfing, to friends of friends). It was then that I realized the incredible influence a host has on a guest’s stay! Anything my host told me to do immediately was at the top of my priority list, above other travel guides like TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, Yelp, etc.

After that trip we moved to San Francisco and started doing home sharing in our home, on both Airbnb and Couchsurfing. We’ve had over 100 guests in the past few years and I’ve become an Airbnb Superhost. During this experience, I’ve realized two things:

  1. The incredible pain-point of having a full-time job, trying to provide a consistent five-star hospitality experience to my guests, and being in constant communication with guest after guest (both before their visit and while they are here).
  2. The pleasure of hearing that they went to my favorite local recommendations. Sure, they went to Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf, but it was visiting my local favorite brunch spot, coffee shop, etc., that made their trip truly memorable and unique.

In looking into the vacation rental, I realized there are many platforms (like Airbnb, HomeAway, etc.) that focus on getting the booking, and there are other tools (like property management software and dynamic pricing companies) to help with that. Once the reservation is made; however, there are not many services to help the host be a better host and provide five-star hospitality to their guests. That’s where we come in.

What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?

Providing five-star hospitality on a consistent basis is hard work. Equally hard is communicating with a never-ending flow of guests and all their questions. Hostfully helps hosts (both individual hosts and vacation rental management companies) be better hosts.  Our value proposition is two-fold:

  1. We help hosts provide a more professional-looking experience to their guests. Our flagship product is beautiful guidebooks, available both digitally and in print.
  2. We save hosts time and money by decreasing the amount of unnecessary questions they get from guests. We make important information and local recommendations more readily accessible than the traditional, old-fashion method of out-dated and ugly binders.

What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?

We are vacation rental hosts ourselves, with a deep knowledge of the industry and pain points. We combine our personal knowledge with the Lean Startup principles. We are regularly testing and iterating on our UX and design based on user feedback.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?

Our biggest challenge was “not letting perfect be the enemy of good”, and launching our MVP as soon as possible. There is a never-ending roadmap of new features and design changes, but at some point, you need to trust the Lean Startup philosophy and release what you have, even if it’s not 100% what you want. The benefits are huge, as you get to see real-time customer usage and feedback, which might be different from what you thought.

Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?

Your network is your best resource. LinkedIn has been a surprising way of endless introductions. It’s amazing how many people, even distant colleagues and connections, are genuinely rooting for you and are happy to help make introductions upon request.

We also send a monthly “business update” email to connections that have expressed interest in what we’re doing; in those emails we have specific requests for help.

On a daily basis, we use Salesforce, Slack, Pivotal Tracker, and Podio, which are all essential to our business operations.

< see related:  What’s Your Access to Today’s Entrepreneurial Tools? >

What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?

We would take less qualified meetings at the beginning so you have some low-pressure situations to practice and refine your pitch. By the time you successfully raise, your deck will most likely look completely different from your first version. We actually had some meetings with Series A investors pretty early, and that was quite helpful as the stakes were low. They weren’t a good fit, but we got great feedback.

Is Your Startup Investable? Take the Test and Find Out Now!

Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?

“What if another company like Google decides to do this?” Unless you are doing a deep-tech heavily-patentable startup, “defensibility” will always be an objection. Don’t stress over it, and don’t keep what you’re doing a secret. There are more important things you need to worry about, such as execution and first-mover advantage. Your ability to be learn, adapt, and execute is your best way to overcome the defensibility objection.

What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?

Staying focused on the big goals and not being bogged-down with all the minutiae of running a business is always a challenge. Luckily we have three senior co-founders and a great team as a whole. Speaking of focus, it is important to know the demographics of your target customer and focus on targeting them specifically.  In our situation, we have seen many unique cases of people using Hostfully for guidebooks. Not only are vacation rental hosts and management companies using us, but so are bed and breakfasts, hotels, travel agents, weddings, office managers, and more. While we embrace everyone using us, we can’t stretch ourselves too thin by trying to market, sell, and customize our messaging to everyone.

What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?

The Couchsurfing community allowed my wife and me to travel the world with free accommodations and local insight pretty much everywhere we went.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?

We value strong work-life balance. Many of us are parents, and we try not to work on weekends. We make sure to have some social time before/after meetings, and we don’t micro-manage employees’ hours and tasks. Company culture is important. Make sure you’re having fun. Otherwise, why are you doing this?

Benja joins forces with XRC Labs

By Benja – January 26, 2017

We have a big announcement: we’re proud members of the latest cohort at the XRC Labs accelerator program in New York City.

XRC Labs is an accelerator for the next generation of disruptors in the retail and consumer goods sectors. Their mission is to foster companies and products that change the face of retail and consumer goods fulfillment in a rapidly changing marketplace using design thinking. The XRC Labs vision is to be at the forefront of change, disrupting the conventional system of supply chain, promoting the best experience for consumers and producers, and creating an ecosystem that matches partners for success.

Enter Benja

XRC is Providing workspace on the campus of Parsons, access to capital, mentoring, and operational support for entirety of their 10-week program.

We are amped to not only be a part of the program but to work alongside 7 other companies who were also accepted as a part of this cohort: 29th Century, Cartogram, CheckOut, Ella, Lacelook, Snappy, and Ziel.

  • 29th Century; for e-commerce businesses who can’t find or afford their own data analytics team, 29th Century provides an AI-powered virtual data analyst to help them make better decisions.
  • Cartogram; provides indoor location services to businesses. Built natively into the Google Maps platform, Cartogram’s software services work together to create an end-to-end in-venue experience to drive revenue, enhance customer experience, and lower overhead for businesses.
  • CheckOut; uniting online sales and conversion strategies with brick and mortar retail for a complete and immersive customer experience in physical stores.
  • Ella; positioned to fill the void in the women’s skincare market, as a female-focused lifestyle brand. Ella provides an elevated product and brand experience, sourcing high- quality ingredients tailored to the needs and identity of women.
  • Lacelook; building a powerful AI- backed visual search technology for visual-oriented products such as fashion goods – clothing, handbags, shoes, etc. – and helping consumers get real-time shop-the-look results and compare prices across brands and retailers.
  • Snappy; an app that makes it extremely easy to send a thoughtful and personalized gift but with all the advantages of a gift card – offering choice for recipients and simplicity for senders.
  • Ziel; a platform that enables any lifestyle company to expand the reach of their brands into activewear. Ziel provides a turnkey solution to bring high-quality, eco-friendly performance apparel to market. The service platform includes custom design with on-demand production

We have a number of major developments coming between now and the conclusion of the program in March, and we can’t wait to share the success stories that come from this experience.

Candy Lab Taps Orchard Capital Partners for Exclusive Distribution of its Groundbreaking Augmented Reality Technology in the UK and Ireland

By Candy Lab – January 10, 2017

IRVINE, Calif., January 10, 2017 – Candy Lab, the award-winning augmented reality technology company, signed a deal today with Orchard Capital Partners to bring its groundbreaking location-based augmented reality technology to the UK and Ireland.

Augmented reality technology is making exciting inroads across the globe and Candy Lab began its search for the right partner to bring its cutting edge technology to the UK market during the second half of 2016. Orchard and Candy Lab first met in London in October 2016 and quickly realised they shared a common vision for the tremendous potential for the technology. The deal provides Orchard with the exclusive opportunity to drive the growth of location-based augmented reality throughout the UK and Ireland.

“As a technology company, this is the best way to get our AR engine in the hands of those who want it and can implement mass adoption”, said Andrew Couch, CEO of Candy Lab. “We believe everyone should have access and the opportunity to experience augmented reality. License agreements are a large part of our 2017 strategy as we look for the right partners, who understand the needs of the industry, our somewhat complex technology and how brands can adopt the technology and give their customers immersive experiences. Orchard came with a lot of knowledge of the space, the right relationships and most importantly the passion that we have in Candy Lab”.

Adam Kulick, Managing Partner of Orchard said “The popularity of Pokémon Go has proven the potential for location-based augmented reality to excite, entertain and educate broad segments of the population. We are thrilled to be working with Candy Lab and are already fielding strong interest from brands and agencies about using this powerful and innovative technology to engage and grow their customer base and audiences.”

Industry analysts predict that revenues from augmented reality are set to reach 150 billion dollars by 2020 which could be the driving force for the interest in the AR engine that Candy Lab built and owns.

For more information, please contact:
Josephine Munis
CMO
josephine.munis@candylab.com

About Candy Lab:

Candy Lab is an award winning location-based, augmented reality company. We have built the only Augmented Reality engine that combines GPS and Beacons and a content management system. Our Augmented Reality technology is used to power mobile games and apps. We advocate for brands to create immersive experiences to deepen customer engagement.  Learn More at www.candylab.com

About Orchard

Orchard Capital Partners is a media-focussed boutique investment and advisory firm. Specific areas of expertise include digital media, virtual reality, augmented reality, film and television.