Interview with Dan Leuck, founder of Ikayzo, in April 2012.
Hi Dan. Please tell us about Ikayzo and how it came to be?
Mika and I came up with the idea to start Ikayzo seven years ago when we were in London. I’d worked in CTO / VP of Engineering-type jobs in Honolulu, Tokyo and London. We decided we wanted to do something on our own. Our concept was to create a company that married an interactive design shop with a top-notch development team. A few months later we moved to Hawaii (back to Hawaii for me) and setup shop. Our about page summarizes who we are and what we do: http://ikayzo.com/about/
What are some of your recent projects?
Our projects are highly varied, but a few examples are:
- We are building a social media sentiment and influencer analysis tool under a federal grant.
- We are working on live market data and analytics applications for numerous investment banks and asset managers. More: http://ikayzo.com/finance/
- The transparency portal (https://data.honolulu.gov) and camping reservation system (http://camping.honolulu.gov/ ) for the city and county of Honolulu were designed and built by us.
Many people think that Hawaii is hard place to develop a high tech business. What has been your experience?
Hawaii presents certain challenges, but I don’t think they are significantly greater than other places with similar populations. The biggest challenge is finding people with the necessary skills. Often you have to look for smart people and train them to do what you need, which can be costly for a small business. The fact that Hawaii is a highly desirable place to live has helped us when competing with large mainland firms for people we pursued on the mainland.
Logistics are less of a problem for software companies than virtually any other business. Like Henk Rogers, I believe this is the reason Hawaii’s best hope for diversification is software (and more generally businesses developing intellectual property.)
As a high tech employer, what is your advice to ICS students? What should they be focusing on while they are in school?
If you want a job doing interesting work for a good salary you can’t compare yourself to your neighbors. You need to compete on the global stage. The best way to measure and improve your abilities is to contribute to open source projects, especially those with rock star contributors. Study their code and find inspiration to make meaningful contributions. You have more time to get involved in open source now than you will at any other point in your life. Don’t waste it.
Anything else you’d like us to know about Ikayzo?
We are a Hawaii company, dedicated to being a good corporate citizen. Although we are based in Hawaii, we compete on the global stage. We are dedicated to being the best both creatively and technically. We are always interested in talking to Hawaii students who are not only the top of their class, but can compete toe to toe with the best from New York to Tokyo.