TechHui

Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

Anyone here run your own online business? Got a website that makes money? Let's hear about your success or failure.

I personally have a few websites, some Hawaii based, some not, the Hawaii ones do the best, maybe because I am passionate about my content.

Views: 73

Replies to This Discussion

I run a SaaS (software as a service) company for churches called Ascribe. It's profitable, although not enough to fully support my family yet.

I'm the software developer for the company. But soon when I've got the infrastructure prepped for scalability, I'll be fully in marketing mode. I'll probably focus on blogging, online article writing and keyword optimization of links on the website.

What do you do for SEO?
Good luck with your new group..

I own a few websites at the moment we produce No offers or products exclusive to Hawaii though, we do traffic & generate sales globally including Hawaii.
Hmm, I'm the Director of Interactive Strategy for KGMB9... But I'm pretty much a one-man shop from app dev to content. Trying to get to a point where things settle into a routine with the regular news, sales and marketing staff to pull back into strategy for the properties that we develop down the line. Everything we've done so far is in-house and Open Source. Our initial launch in Sept. 2007 had a cost of $5/mo on a shared server + my salary. We've moved a little over that now (a little).

Own? Not quite... Makes money? Yep. But the strength of our product comes from an established revenue stream that is learning it must change in order to remain competitive.

My belief has always been that the strength and longevity of an online business is based on it's brick-and-mortar core. So what I try to focus on is improving the strength of any online activity through traditional media.

Is it possible for a pure online play to make money? Yes... But how much? I'd like to help in cross marketing, but not sure if pure local online companies can afford it. And for the local sites that are connected to brick-and-mortar, I don't think they're marketed well.
"My belief has always been that the strength and longevity of an online business is based on it's brick-and-mortar core."

For smaller audiences (e.g., regional geographies like Hawaii), I think this makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, the biggest online businesses in the world (Google, Yahoo, Amazon,MySpace,etc.) have no bricks and mortar.

As it relates to Hawaii, I agree that the brick and mortar base is key. Even this site and for example, Oahure, no one is going to make serious money off of ads or selling subscriptions but if you can get a clients, projects, jobs, etc, that brick and mortar element makes it successful.

One thing I am surprised is that Hawaii's tech leaders don't seem very excited about SaaS as a vehicle for economic growth in the state (or at least I have not heard it). Truman is one of the very few people I have heard about using a SaaS model in Hawaii. But you would think a model like SaaS, where geographical location is secondary, where a sales force is secondary and where you can reach a global audience would be perfect for an island thousands of miles from the nearest continent.

Am I mistaken about the interest in SaaS locally? What do you think about SaaS as a vehicle for Hawaii economic growth?
It goes back to the question, does the state attract tech people to do this? Or is Hawaii a tourism state? Although this is not a question to people in the tech world... It's something of great debate for officials as the largest chunk of revenue comes from the tourism industry.

I'm a little more optimistic than I was a few years back in officials beginning to see the need for expansion into other revenue streams, but we are no where near being in a place where we'll see great support.

Small fractionalized tech companies are not a great voter/donor block. And a lot of times, sadly, they get absorbed or leave the state when get to scale.

Now, it isn't bad being the incubator state... But the costs can be high and the failure rate is a little frightening.

I like SaaS... But have you tried to get a good,reliable, cost effective host here that you didn't build your self? If you find one tell me... And if that's not the point, why here and not in LA, SF, NY, Boston, DFW, etc...

Another question... Which way are we going? Hyperlocal or global?
Today hosting is not a barrier to entry in SaaS. You can get free hosting with Google App Engine. Or you could use Amazon Web Services to host both your database, files and even virtual servers. I haven't found any host locally that can provide what I need at a cost I can afford. Currently I have a host in Virginia.

One great benefit of being located in Hawaii is that any income earned from intellectual property is tax free in Hawaii.

I'm with John on this one. Why aren't more people doing SaaS in Hawaii? All you need to do is generate the software ... which can be done from anywhere. Online customer service can be done from anywhere.

My guess is that Hawaii lacks a critical mass of Internet entrepreneurs and developers to develop a thriving community that would serve as a ripe environment for Internet startups. I just watched a Planet Earth episode last night about coral reefs in Indonesia. These reefs boast a 10 times the number of species that in all of the Carribean. One reason for the abundance marine life and diversity of species is that the reefs there are a meeting place for two oceans: the Indian and Pacific oceans. If we can build the Internet/tech community in Honolulu through social networks like TechHui and perhaps sponsor conferences that get more tech people to visit Hawaii, I think we can develop an environment that will foster more Internet startups in Hawaii.
Even this site and for example, Oahure, no one is going to make serious money off of ads or selling subscriptions but if you can get a clients, projects, jobs, etc, that brick and mortar element makes it successful.

Exactly. Our intent was never to make money from TechHui. Its a community site intended to facilitate communication and networking. TechHui has brought Ikayzo and others good local leads and biz dev opportunities, which is great. Almost all our customers used to be in NY and Tokyo. Now we have some really interesting local customers.

One thing I am surprised is that Hawaii's tech leaders don't seem very excited about SaaS as a vehicle for economic growth in the state (or at least I have not heard it). Truman is one of the very few people I have heard about using a SaaS model in Hawaii.

There are actually quite a few local companies providing application services. As you mentioned, Ascribe is definitely an interesting company with a lot of potential. I'm sure Truman's work ethic and ingenuity will take him far. Henk has several web apps in the works. Another local company to watch is Sprout. I've written about them a few times. I also created a TechHui Sprout. Sprout's booth at the Web 2.0 Expo last week was easily the busiest on the floor.

In the interest of full disclosure, Sprout is a customer of Ikayzo and I recently took a position with them as well.

Finally, one of the large local packaged software companies is about to do a big SaaS push. You will hear about them soon.
Hi Dan,

That is true. Sprout and ilovephotos are two obvious examples. I was not specific enough with my earlier comment. It's not just SAAS that's interesting to me for Hawaii but low startup cost SAAS companies. I am not sure how many of you saw DHH's talk at Startup School last week, but it was exactly on this topic and well worth watching.

Basically, DHH's point is that you can start small, focus on a niche, make a few million dollars, live well and not worry about VCs or trying for a super high risk, high reward exit.


Because sprout and ilovephotos have already burned a million each and probably on the way to burning a few more until they hit an exit or profitability, even though it's SAAS it has some of the same problems and risks as traditional software plays. Especially for Hawaii, these includes:

1. Moving to the mainland (it seems more of Sprout is going to SF?) because you are so big that you need more talent and resources than Hawaii can provide (it seems that was one of the factors but I don't have any internal information).
2. Needing a fairly big exit. I assume that Sprout's investors want a $20 - $30 million purchase price for an acquisition (using 10x as a rule of thumb). I think they might get it simply because a big player may see their product as 'strategic'. However, it gets more risky with greater funding needs, because if you don't get the acquisition and need to fund your way to profitability, you may not be able to get the millions you need to continue to run.

I don't enough about the hawaii tech community but given the continuing decreases in the cost of starting companies, I think that fostering a sizable pool of smaller companies needing less money is probably a good way to develop a more sustainable foundation. A few companies requiring a lot of investment can be exciting but may less appropriate for our needs and abilities.

Best,

John
Hi John,

Basically, DHH's point is that you can start small, focus on a niche, make a few million dollars, live well and not worry about VCs or trying for a super high risk, high reward exit.

Hansson's enthusiastic self appreciation can get a bit nauseating, but he makes some excellent points :-) I agree that now more than ever, its possible to create a successful SaaS company without taking venture capital. This isn't true for all SaaS ideas, but quite a few can be built entirely by a couple of highly motivated individuals working from home.

1. Moving to the mainland (it seems more of Sprout is going to SF?)

I have to be careful here, but I will say Sprout has more people in Manoa than SF, and the company is always interested in hiring top notch local talent in needed areas (as is Ikayzo.) There are obvious advantages to having an SF location. Sprout has a fantastic team in both locations. Unlike a lot of other Hawaii startups, Carnet plays up the Hawaii connection at trade events and conferences. He is all about promoting Hawaii's tech sector.

Given the complexity of what Sprout is doing from both a technical and business perspective, I'm not sure it could have been done start to finish with a couple of guys in a garage. The amount of funding required really depends on the idea.

I think that fostering a sizable pool of smaller companies needing less money is probably a good way to develop a more sustainable foundation.

I absolutely agree. Taking VC money shouldn't be the default decision for launching an SaaS startup. Hawaii would certainly benefit from a larger pool of lean and mean SaaS startups funded by a few founders or via a Y-Combinator type model.

Best,
Dan
I helped start a website called http://BrazilBotanicals.com 2 months ago. We average about $500 a day now, out goal is $1k a day by the end of the year. I also helped developed 2 other Hawaii sites that now make 4-5 figures per day. I started doing SEO about a decade ago in Hawaii. I think the only way to make a site profitable is to keep testing ideas.
I have several websites. My flag ship site is Pizza Therapy http://pizzatherapy.com

Pizza therapy is all about pizza. I teach people how to make pizza. I also have an extensive listing of the best pizza places in the world. I celebrate pizza. I celebrate anyone who shares that pizza passion.

I have a few sister sites related to cooking. I also have a Pizza Blog
My website Pizza Therapy has gotten lots of press, both on line and off. I have been featured in three pizza books and several national publications. Pizza Therapy has also been featured on televison, radio and newspapers.

I do make money on the Internet however, I am not at the level I would like to be.
I am interested in doing tele-seminars.
I have done several with master pizzaiolo called the Legends of Pizza series. Through Pizza Therapy, I have developed friendships with several movers in pizzaland.

This is kind of funny because I live here in Hawaii and as you know, there is a shortage of great pizza, here.

I have the skill of being able to interview people and I want to do more tele-seminars in other niches. This is the direction I would like to go into. I see myself doing more and more tele-seminars. I plan on continuing to create information products from these interviews.

I have several Hawaii themed sites and a blog. I also have a few niche based sites.

I am interested in learning as much as I can about Internet Marketing. I am happy to share anything I know.
My mission is to help others become successful. I believe in the law of reciprocity.

I am also interested in list building. I think that is a key aspect about the Internet that many people who have websites don't get.
If I was you, I would create youtube.com videos about pizza and link them to your home page.

I would target restaurant owners that make pizza and create a monthly or quarterly enewsletter on tips of making better pizzas.

I would also have a pizza making contest in a mall, or have a hotel sponsor a Pizza contest similar to Turtle Bay's "Battle of the North Shore Shrimp trucks"...

Chris
SEODock.com

RSS

Sponsors

web design, web development, localization

© 2022   Created by Daniel Leuck.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service