Convergent Law Group & HTDC presents PR for Startups Silicon Valley Style: How to Grow Your Company

PR for Startups Silicon Valley Style:
How to Grow Your Company

Thursday, September 5, 11:30-1:30 pm, lunch provided
Manoa Innovation Center: Training Room, 2800 Woodlawn Drive, Suite 173

Learn how to think strategically about your startup’s communications, get the most out of PR at any stage of your company’s growth and work effectively with PR agencies during a lunchtime seminar designed for Honolulu entrepreneurs. Join panelists Darren Kimura, Lori Teranishi and Lauren Scherr, all Hawaii born and raised, for an interactive session moderated by Clifton Kagawa.

Lori Teranishi is Co-founder and Principal of IQ PR. Lori has provided PR counsel to emerging and Fortune 500 companies in a variety of industries. She has experience developing Board communications, launching major thought leadership campaigns and leading crisis communications for high-profile issues. Prior to founding IQ PR, Inc., Lori was Vice President of Product Development with Visa U.S.A. In her seven years with Visa, Lori held a variety of positions including Chief of Staff to Visa USA’s Chief Operating Officer where she instituted a company-wide business planning process and assisted in negotiating major deals with Fortune 50 companies.

Lauren Scherr consults emerging and high-growth companies at LaunchSquad, a San Francisco-based firm that provides a full suite of public relations and social media services. Lauren has experience developing and executing tech, trade, gaming, business and consumer PR initiatives for clients across industries. Prior to LaunchSquad, Lauren supported global communications programs at Electronic Arts, a leading interactive entertainment software company.

Darren Kimura is an experienced technology executive and entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience across IT, energy efficiency and solar technology. Over his career, he has served in corporate executive positions leading key strategic initiatives such as preparing for an Initial Public Offering, Mergers & Acquisitions for companies and technology, organizing teams, intellectual properties, and strategic engagements with Fortune 500 companies. Darren is the founder of Sopogy, Inc. and Energy Industries Corporation.

Moderator Clifton Kagawa is Chairman and CEO of Venture Capital Communications and Broadband iTV. He is also a partner at Sennet Capital. Previously, Clif was in public relations and marketing consulting, from 1998-2000 as Chairman and Chief Executive for New York-based Burson-Marsteller’s Asia Pacific region, and as a member of the advisory board for parent company Young & Rubicam. From 1988-98, Clif was Chairman and Chief Executive for international public relations consultancy Hill and Knowlton’s Asia Pacific operations. In the mid-90s Clif also had management responsibility for ad agency Ogilvy Hawaii. Prior to that, Clif was majority owner and Chief Executive of Communications-Pacific, a Hawaii-based public relations firm and, at the time, one of the 50 largest independent public relations consultancies in the US. It was acquired by Hill and Knowlton in 1987.

(L-R) Greg Kim, Darren Kimura, Lori Teranishi, Lauren Scherr, Clifton Kagawa

(L-R) Greg Kim, Darren Kimura, Lori Teranishi, Lauren Scherr, Clifton Kagawa


What’s next?

Back in March, I left the roles of Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer at Sopogy, Inc. a company I founded in 2002.  At the time, I had envisioned an opportunity to work side-by-side with our new Board and leadership to grow and lead Sopogy forward.  Unfortunately, this did not play out as such.

Thus, with a hand-over now complete to the leadership team from SunEdison, and after an incredible 11 years of building Sopogy, my tenure as a member of the staff at Sopogy has come to a close this week as I have been asked to step down as a member of team Sopogy.

This has been an amazing experience of planning, incubating, launching, commercializing, and globalizing our Hawaii technology company.  Many said it could not be done from Hawaii. Others doubted us every step of the journey.  Some still do.  Yet we took the an idea to become a global technology with customers around the world including some of the biggest companies in the world including Hitachi, Chevron, Toshiba, and InBev.  In addition our outstanding team developed over 130 megawatts in India, 360 megawatts in Thailand, and 105 megawatts in the Philippines.  The total portfolio has a value worth over $2.5 billion!  Almost unbelievable to think all this was done from Hawaii.

I thank our former Hawaii board, investors and employees for their hard work, their belief that we could achieve our common vision and their support over the many years. I thank Hawaii for giving us the opportunity to dream big.

Please know that this is not the end for Sopogy, just the end for me as a member of its staff.  I am hopeful for many great things yet to come.

Building a technology start-up company is challenging. As a percentage, the amount of companies that survive the journey is in the single digits. Doing it from Hawaii adds an additional level of intricacy and challenge.

In the future, I am excited to leverage my experiences to make start-up companies in Hawaii more efficient and increase the probability of success.

As for me, what’s next? Stay tuned…

Intersolar 2013

Presenting at Intersolar North America 2013

Solar thermal power plants are designed to deliver dispatchable power through storage (molten salt) or hybrid operation, thus enabling a higher total share of intermittent renewable energies in a future energy mix. However, significant cost reductions experienced by conventional crystalline wafer-based technologies have challenged the financial viability and commercial attractiveness of CSP projects worldwide. According to an analysis conducted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) CSP may have a share of about 12% of global power supply by 2050. In this session speakers will present the current and future technological trends of CSP applications, as well results and experienced gained through long-term operation and maintenance of CSP projects around the world. In addition, an overview will be given about the current status of market developments across various regions of the globe.

MicroCSP Technologies Darren T. Kimura, Founder, Chief Global Strategist, Chief Marketing Officer, Board of Directors, Sopogy Inc., U.S.

MicroCSP Technologies
Darren T. Kimura, Founder, Chief Global Strategist, Chief
Marketing Officer, Board of Directors, Sopogy Inc., U.S.

Better Business Bureau 2013

HONOLULU – Hawaii’s Better Business Bureau® (BBB), the leader in advancing marketplace trust, has announced the finalists of its 2013 BBB Torch Awards program.

“The BBB Torch Awards program celebrates businesses and public charities that demonstrate and maintain solid commitment to high standards for trust and accountability,” said Dwight Kealoha, chief executive officer of Hawaii’s BBB.“This year’s finalists reflect our mission as leaders in advancing trust in Hawaii’s marketplace. We honor their dedicated efforts toward an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers, and charities and donors can trust each other.”

Henk Rogers, founder of Blue Startups and Darren Kimura, CEO of Sopogy, will participate in a panel on Innovation and Ethics prior to the luncheon.

This interactive panel discussion led by, John Webster, Director of the Hogan Entrepreneurial Program at Chaminade University will engage the audience and talk about these entrepreneurs business philosophies and the future of business in Hawaii.

Photos from the Better Business Bureau 2013

Darren T. Kimura speaking at Better Business Bureau Torch AwardsDarren T. KimuraBetter Business Bureau Hawaii

Panel at Better Business Bureau Hawaii Event


Moving On…

Today, Sopogy takes its next step forward as a global technology manufacturer with the introduction of a new President and Chief Operating Officer.

I started Sopogy in 2002 as an idea and watched the business advance through the contributions of our amazingly innovative staff (past and present). This talented group has helped Sopogy grow, change, and grow again in a decade of tremendous global adversity including the recession, political uncertainty, cleantech bubble bust, and Japan earthquake/tsunami.

For me, it has been the greatest professional honor to serve our shareholders as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President. As I leave these roles the Board of Directors has requested that I serve in the capacity of Chief Global Strategist and Chief Marketing Officer reporting to the Board. While no longer leading the direction of the company, I am excited to take this role as it should operationally enable a continuity in Sopogy’s most important strategic initiatives, continued development of the brand and provide for shareholder advocacy.

In my new role, I will focus on helping the new leadership from SunEdison to learn and operate the company.  I plan to support Sopogy’s development of the 360 megawatts under development in Thailand, 105 megawatts in the Philippines and our opportunities in Japan with Anheuser Busch, Chevron, Hitachi and Toshiba as these projects enable Sopogy’s incredible growth and future.

Thank you all for your incredible support over the past 11 years.

Company Press Release:

Sopogy Strengthens Execution Capabilities

Management changes are focused on rapid commercialization of solar steam and process heat markets.

Belmont, CA. — March 19, 2013 – Sopogy, Inc., a concentrating solar thermal technology company, today announced that it has appointed David Fernandez as its President and Chief Operating Officer to strengthen its execution capabilities. Furthermore, the company has appointed Darren T. Kimura as Chief Global Strategist and Chief Marketing Officer.

David Fernandez will assume responsibilities for day to day activities and report to the Board of Directors. Before joining Sopogy, Mr. Fernandez was the Vice President of North American Operations at SunEdison, one of the largest solar companies in the world. Prior to joining SunEdison, he was the Senior VP of Operations for FRV, Inc. (Fotowatio Renewable Ventures), a leading global operator in photovoltaic and thermosolar energy plants. He previously served as COO with GES USA (Global Energy Services) where he worked on wind and solar renewable energy projects. Mr. Fernandez has an MBA from Instituto de Empresa, a Masters in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University and a BA from Western Michigan University also in Aeronautical Engineering.

“We are very pleased to have Mr. Fernandez join Sopogy as President and Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Fernandez will strengthen Sopogy’s core business. It is important that we take that step forward to achieve the great potential in our business,” said Taro Inaba, member of the Board of Directors.

“Sopogy has an exciting technology platform and I’m honored to join the team. My strong background in engineering and operations will help improve our products and the customer experience,” said David Fernandez.

Mr. Kimura, Sopogy’s founder and previously Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President, will now be responsible for the company’s domestic and international expansion and will oversee marketing efforts.

“Darren is a world class entrepreneur. His success in raising capital, building teams and leading the company in its growth is second to none. Sopogy now needs Darren to lead us in global marketing. This role takes advantage of his skills and creates value for all shareholders. I’m confident he will take us to new heights,” said Carlos Domenech, member of the Board of Directors.

“At this stage in our growth, serving as the Company’s Chief Global Strategist and Chief Marketing Officer will enable me to develop our brand and drive our sales and commercialization efforts forward,” said Darren T. Kimura.

All appointments are effective immediately.

About Sopogy
Sopogy revolutionized solar thermal technology with MicroCSP. Developing modular collectors about one-third the size of a traditional concentrated solar power mirror, Sopogy cut the cost of solar thermal energy to a fraction of the cost. Proprietary storage units stabilize volatile energy production when cloudy and prolong production after sunset. Sopogy’s thermal energy is the fuel for stable, renewable process heat, air conditioning, and power generation. For more information please visit


Are you in California now?

I get this question a lot these days, “Are you in California now?!” Since 2006, Sopogy has had a presence in Silicon Valley.  We have our Corporate and R&D operations in Hawaii and in Silicon Valley we operate our sales and manufacturing teams.

Since 2006, I had been going back and forth between Hawaii, California and everywhere else the company needed me to go.  This led me to do an analysis of my travels since taking the role at Sopogy.  Here’s what I found.  I spent over 64% of the entire past 10 years on the road (outside of Hawaii).  Of all that travel, I spent the 32% of the time in Silicon Valley, 17% in New York, 15% in London, 12% in India, 10% Singapore, 8% Tokyo and the balance everywhere else including the Philippines, Thailand, UAE, and across the USA.

All of that said, in our Series E financing, the lead investor required me to “officially” move to California so I have been changing my social media status on Facebook, Twitter to Silicon Valley.

Why? That’s the next most frequently asked question.  The concept of having me in California is that we can more easily grow and expand in our growth markets.  Our investors and new board have developed a view that selling in CA is the better direction for the company and to be effective, we need to be in CA.  The markets in CA are fueled by the California Solar Initiative that provides a rebate for installations using our technology as have one of the few SRCC certified technologies.

At the end of the day, this is all about bringing the best value to our employees and investors and I’m focused on making Sopogy the biggest company in Concentrating Solar Power.

Hawaii Venture Capital Association – Darren T. Kimura recognized for Deal of the Year

Hawaii Venture Capital Association

Deal of the Year – Darren Kimura – CEO – Sopogy has pioneered the concept of MicroCSP(tm) using its mirrored concentrating solar thermal solar collectors to create high quality thermal heat. This heat is used in the industrial process and as solar steam. The International Energy Agency has estimated that only 17% of final energy consumption is for electricity while 47% of final energy consumption is in the generation of thermal energy. Sopogy’s technologies are poised to capture the thermal energy market by harnessing the power of the sun. Sopogy’s thermal energy is the fuel for stable, renewable process heat and solar steam. Please visit for more information.