For Lauren Primiano, head of venture funds at mbloom, being a member of the Chinatown, Honolulu Real Office Centers location is about more than just having a space to work — it is about being part of a vibrant local startup community.
mbloom, a venture capital fund that launched in 2014, has a strong focus on funding and supporting startup technology companies in the state of Hawaii.
“We're an early-stage venture fund, and we are the only such fund that is focused on the Hawaiian market,” Primiano says. “Part of the reason for our existence is that we're funded by partial public funds, as well as private funds. We have money from the state of Hawaii, which was invested as opposed to a grant in us, to show that the state has an equitable share in our fund, just as any other private investor would.”
Some members of mbloom's portfolio include Fanhandle,a personal brand engagement company; Ozolio, a high definition webcam streaming service; ReadyCart, a commerce revenue program; and Vantage Sports, an analytical tool for athletes and sports programs.
Primiano and her colleagues at mbloom have already noticed a strong surge in the local startup scene since starting two years ago.
“Hawaii is not a Silicon Valley in any regards, but over the last few years, there has been a lot of activity in the startup community here,” she says. “We have a number of accelerator programs, many of which are nationally recognized, that we work with closely.”
An accelerator program is a mentorship and education-based incubator for technology startups, with an end goal of receiving funding from sources like mbloom. Many of the accelerator programs in Honolulu are located in Chinatown, near the ROC location where mbloom has offices.
“Being in ROC Honolulu is a great location for us because we are in walking distance of all of these different accelerator programs,” Primiano says. “I just had coffee with an entrepreneur that is right down the street from ROC, and sometimes people come here as well.”
In fact, the ROC Honolulu Chinatown location is so steeped in startup culture that Primiano started a “startup paradise” tour for the Honolulu: East Meets West technology conference.
“We're really excited to bring that community of people into our environment, and especially into ROC to showcase all of the different tenants,” Primiano says.
The startup tour is just one example of how mbloom seeks to foster community within the Hawaiian startup scene.
“We also host an annual event in Maui called MaiTai Maui Tech Night,” Primiano says. “That is another really good platform for the local startup scene to connect with resources, tech executives and investors.”
The fourth annual MaiTai Maui Tech Night will take place June 14th from 5pm - 10pm. You can register here.
MaiTai Maui Tech Night is a featured event by MaiTai Global, a group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, tech executives and entrepreneurs, in partnership with mbloom, a venture capital fund rooted in Hawaii’s Startup Paradise community. It is a signature event of MaiTai Maui, an exclusive 4-day kiteboarding retreat for MaiTai Global members.
Since the first event in 2013, MaiTai Maui Tech Night has grown to now attract over 300 attendees including Hawaii-based entrepreneurs and investors, and prominent Silicon Valley investors as well as other founders and tech executives from around the country.
In two short years, mbloom has made a splash in the Hawaiian startup market, and Primiano and her colleagues look forward to continue fostering innovation.
“We are just one piece of the puzzle,” says Primiano, “in terms of all of the different startup activity here.”
MaiTai Maui Tech Night will take place June 14th from 5pm - 10pm. Get tickets!
San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles and Honolulu — Real Office Centers' locations might be a bit spread out geographically, but this Cinco de Mayo the ROC community showed how cohesive it really is by holding concurrent celebrations in these four regions.
ROC's different members came together to mark the recent launch of a new online community, and to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with tasty food, drinks, and ROC gift cards.
This year, three entrepreneurs won $500 credits toward office space a ROC, while one additional business earned a $100 credit.
One of the $500 credit winners is Randy Rodriguez of Accelerated Capital Group, an independent broker dealer based in San Diego. Accelerated Capital Group handles mutual funds, portfolio management and a wide rang of other financial services.
Rosemary Bordwell of Bordwell & Associates, a legal and corporate recruiting company, also won $500 at the Orange County ROC party. Bordwell & Associates is based at ROC's Newport Beach location.
The third winner of a $500 credit was Sean Kissinger of Patientpop, a reputation management and marketing service. Patientpop specializes in connecting medical patients with legitimate doctors online.
In Honolulu, the $100 credit went to Nick Stone, a film editor, director and producer who owns Automaton Films. Stone has done commercial editing work for the Museum of Modern Art, Land Rover, Sam Adams, Jeep, Swiffer and more.
To see all the cinco photos head to our Facebook Page and tag yourself!
Looking For More Meaningful Professional Connections? Check Out ROC’s New Online Community: An inside look at the new networking tool made by and for ROC members.
When Building Bloc cofounders Alyssa Mason and Mohamed Kamal first joined Real Office Centers' Santa Monica office in 2014, they were instantly impressed with the different startups and companies based there.
“We noticed something special happening [when we joined ROC],” Mason says.“They had thousands of members poised for growth, [and] some of them were doing incredible things, contributing to the ever-booming tech environment here in Silicon Beach, but had no tools to connect to one another."
The solution? A recently-launched ROC online members' community, which gives users the chance to post and view job opportunities, communicate about different topics of interests, view and plan upcoming ROC community events, and stay up to date on the latest ROC news.
Mason and Kamal, whose growth engineering firm Building Bloc specializes in product growth and user engagement started work with the ROC team planning the logistics of ROC's online community in 2015.
“As we began to speak with ROC’s staff, we learned a lot about how to grow and engage ROC’s most avid fans while building a product that the members would love,” Mason says. “The key is their strong superuser community members, who will benefit most from an online community.”
The three most important features for the new online community are the member directory, the discussions portal and the events calendar. The member directory allows users to easily find other ROC community members, and to see who is most active online.
The discussion page gives community members a chance to converse about a wide range of topics, including surfing, books, mindfulness, cool events happening around Los Angeles and house music, to name a few. Each ROC office also has its own discussion page, and there is a job opportunities board as well.
Job opportunities posted to ROC's online community in the last week alone include two sales positions with ShopEatSurf, an executive assistant position with Prosocial, and a brands relations manager position with EchoBox Audio.
“The discussions section is a place where the community can get the conversation started,” Mason says. “[It is] where they can share ideas, stories, interests and even ask questions of their fellow members.”
Finally, the event calendar keeps members informed of any upcoming ROC events in Southern California and Hawaii.
“Events are a major pillar of the ROC community,” Mason says. “They bring both members and non-members from within the community and city together, under one roof.”
Now, ROC members have a chance to be together even when they are not under the same roof. If you have not already signed up with this online community, take the opportunity to do so now.
Care for Your Beard for a Buck a Month: How the Bros at Dollar Beard Club Are Turning Parody into a Successful Business Model.
“We sure as hell won't be sending you any f***ing razor blades,” a man with a full, voluminous beard tells viewers of the first viral video for Dollar Beard Club.
He then goes on to explain that for a dollar a month, subscribers can get beard oil and other beard care essentials delivered directly to their doorsteps.
The company started as a parody of Dollar Shave Club, a similar subscription service for razors. But it soon grew into an internet marketing sensation in its own right.
“The Dollar Beard Club actually came about because it was our philosophy on life in general, and translated into a business,” says Alex Brown, one of the business' cofounders. “We grew our beards because it represented confidence, not caring what others think about you and doing business on our terms.”
Brown and his colleagues, Chris Stoikos and Mike D'Agostini, were handling marketing and social media for other companies when the idea for Dollar Beard Club came their way in 2015. After receiving over 2 million YouTube views on their first video alone, the entrepreneurs knew they were on to something. And those views have translated to subscriptions.
“Social media marketing and viral videos drive the vast majority of our customer acquisition, and go hand in hand,” Brown says. “Because we create such great content ,we find that our cost per acquisition is quite low when driving traffic to acquire customers. We focus on building a community and in creating great content, which creates a massive sense of brand loyalty, and our sales happen as a direct result of this focus.”
Now, the same guys behind Dollar Beard Club are turning heads for an entirely different product: CoolBox, an updated tool box for the modern age that includes a whiteboard, audio equipment and a bottle opener. CoolBox recently earned an investment from the pros on Shark Tank, in an episode that aired earlier this month.
“ We didn’t have any particular strategy going in, to be honest,” Brown says of the Shark Tank experience. “It was more that we knew where we were going and what we needed to do to get there. That kind of attitude caught the attention of the sharks in a major way.”
In a turn of events Brown calls “serendipitous,” the first television commercial for Dollar Beard Club ran during the Shark Tank episode.
Brown, Stoikos, D'Agostini and their collaborators plan to continue developing new products, and to find interesting new ways to market them.
“ We want to be an intersection of content and commerce,” says Brown, “with our core business in beard products, but creating customized content and product offerings for various customer segments and in various industries. Because we have created a community and not just a customer list, the possibilities of where we can take the business are unreal.”
The idea for Orange County startup bringpro came from a simple problem that needed to be solved.
One of the company's founders was shopping for a new television, but found that delivery options were very limited. Faced with the options of renting a truck or requesting help from a friend, the founder wished there was a cleaner, simpler, and more professional way to handle this dilemma.
Enter bringpro, an on-demand delivery service that cofounder Joe Carter calls “an Uber for stuff,” which users can access online, or by downloading the app.
Carter and the other founders began market testing analysis in late 2014, and were met with positive results.
“Everyone who was asked the question, 'What do you think about this kind of service' gave an overwhelming response: 'What a great idea. I wish I had thought of that!'” says Carter.
The business works by allowing customers to place requests for a delivery truck with two professional, properly licensed drivers to help transport new purchases and other large items. The drivers even provide placement and assembly if desired.
“New opportunities come to us every day,” says Carter, “because we are creating a market and people are still discovering new reasons to why use us.”
Currently, bringpro limits its services to Orange County, but Carter and his team plan to expand to other nearby counties soon. Much of bringpro's business so far comes from referrals from friends and sales associates. Making its purpose clear to consumers can still be a hurdle for the company.
“Our goal is to delight our customers by understanding their needs and providing a service that elevates their experience to the highest level,” Carter says. “The concept of on-demand delivery is still new to the public, so the greatest challenge has been to help them understand that they can get the delivery when they want it simply by requesting our service when they want it, rather than having to schedule in advance.”
bringpro calls the Newport Beach location of Real Office Centers its home. Carter finds the arrangement much more rewarding than a traditional office setting.
“Being in an environment that caters to startup companies and young successful businesses provides us with a great atmosphere to concentrate our efforts,” he says. “ROC really caters to their clients, which helps us to remember to get up, move around and socialize. It’s a great environment, and great employees who make it happen.”
Carter hopes that the combination of convenient service, urgent problem solving, professional driving and appropriate certification will help bringpro continue to bring new ideas to the on-demand service market.
“Our future vision is that the service we provide will be very broad and will impact our customers on a variety of levels,” he says. “This will be a constantly evolving market as we become a more 'want it now' society. Our goal is to be on the forefront of those changes, and to be creating the innovation before it becomes the norm.”
In need of on-demand delivery in Orange County? Check out bringpro's online services, or download the app!
People often say that it takes a village to raise a child. Here at Real Office Centers, we believe it also takes a village of sorts to help a small company grow — which is why we are giving away free offices for a year for four different businesses in the Los Angeles, San Diego or Orange County area.
To enter, just get in touch with us here and tell us how a spot at ROC could help your company succeed. Here is a look at some of the different features and benefits our office spaces have to offer.
• Administrative and concierge services: If you spend half your time answering phones and filing paperwork, you will not be left with a lot of time to focus on what is important to you — things like innovation, client connections and employee training. That's why ROC takes care of most of the busywork for you with administrative and concierge services. We'll dot the I's and cross the T's, so you can get busy writing your company's story.
• Collaboration: You'll have a private office if you win the ROC Contest, but you will also have access to open collaborative spaces, which each of our locations are built around. We tend to attract ambitious and creative entrepreneurs, meaning that sharing projects and swapping ideas comes naturally for our tenants. You can take your business to the next level by teaming up with other small local businesses that share your big dreams.
• Technology: These days, if you are not on the cutting edge of technology, it is easy to be seen as behind the times. ROC furnishes our offices with state of the art office technology, including high quality video conferencing centers. These helpful tools will help you easily stay in touch with clients and remote employees, while also impressing anyone who visits your office.
• Amenities: Sometimes even the most enthusiastic entrepreneur needs a little break. We offer top notch amenities at all of our locations, including cafes serving local coffee, comfy couches and chairs, and serene outdoor workspaces. Certain ROC locations also provide car washing services, full kitchens, locker rooms with showers and more.
• Locations: In order to take your business to where it needs to be, you need to start at a great location. ROC's multiple locations in Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County offer convenient access to gourmet dining, high end shopping, and even the beach. Whether you prefer to spend your lunch break at Fashion Island or catching a few waves, we have the right location for you.
What could a free year at ROC do for you an your company? Four lucky winners will soon find out. Again, all you have to do to enter is visit this page and tell us how ROC fits into your professional plans. We look forward to reading over a lot of stellar applications.