Living on a rock 2500 miles out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean creates challenges and unique opportunities for those of us living on the Big Island of Hawaii. We have the highest energy prices in the United States with plenty of hang wringing by our elected officials about renewable energy solutions and getting off our dependence on oil.
The Big Island imports tons of mainland products and food from half way around the world. There is also a local belief that companies can’t hire good help on the island, so they hire from mainland companies or from Oahu. (Which exacerbates our problems of providing well paid, rewarding work to not only our young people, but tech folk who live on this island.)
In response to my frustration of being here for a year trying to find a job in digital marketing, I created a one day, technology/sustainability business solutions conference. Not only was the concept of social media marketing still new to the island, but creating WordPress blogs and understanding SEO was often met with, “That’s what people do in Silicon Valley, not here”. I knew that people from the mainland were searching for places to stay, eat, go in Hawaii while freezing their butts off in Seattle and around the country. “If you can’t be found in a Google search, you may as well not exist when your potential clients come looking for you” is my mantra. So I set out to make a difference.
In looking to put on the conference, I met Guy Toyama, the Executive Director of the Friends of the Natural Energy Lab. He said that Kona could be the next Silicon Valley. I choked of course on my Kona coffee when he said that. I was just talking about bringing some level of technology know-how here and he was already thinking alot bigger than I was. So, we put the first TechConKona conference on together in August 2012 with author and inventor, Paul Hawken, as the keynote. It was a really great conference and Paul, who has spoken all over the world said it was one of the best conferences he had been to, AND it gave him hope for the WORLD. He heard our speakers discuss the Aloha spirit and how they were working towards making the Big Island a beacon for sustainability using smart technology.
Paul saw the caliber of not only our speakers, but our attendees. Leaders in sustainability, the “Buy Local” movement, renewable energy, technology, and digital marketing. He knew this confluence of people who cared to make a difference, while sharing their Aloha, could do anything.
TechConKona 2.0-Nov. 2, 2013
Sadly, my event partner, Guy Toyama, passed away only a few short months after the conference last year of a heart attack. Guy’s spirit lives on in the Guy Toyama Memorial Scholarship fund which TechConKona 2.0, being held on November 2, 2013 at the Natural Energy Lab’s Gateway Center, will help support. This year the focus is on sustainability and technology working together with Aloha. Aloha is the secret sauce that we have here in Hawaii. The Aloha spirit makes you care for the land (aina), the people and the future. Everyone who will be presenting at TechConKona, including sustainability folks from this island, will be infusing the information they provide with Aloha.
The spirit of Aloha reminds us that as business people, we have a responsibility to care for this island that we call home and provides us with our living. The technology presenters will show us how to be more productive using less energy, waste and time. They will show us how to greet our mainland guests before they arrive with an active presence on the web and a virtual lei through social media.
If you would like to join us, tickets are $75 each, with special pricing until September 17th, or VIP tickets for $100 to be able to have lunch with our presenters and have priority seating. Tickets are available on EventBrite.
I will be discussing mobile apps and building a quick and affordable presence on Google and my web partner will be talking about Google Analytics and SEO, as well as WordPress and blogging for business. We will have thought leaders discussing how profitability can be achieved by offering locally sourced food and products, and by hiring local we can keep the money here on the island for further education of our workforce.
Mahalo to the Hawaii County Department of Research and Development for providing a grant to continue this conference.