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Tech Entrepreneur – Darren Kimura focuses on Sopogy

April 16, 2007

Sopogy on Pacificnews.net

By Caryl Nishioka

By: PacificNews.Net

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Darren Kimura is not your ordinary entrepreneur. When he was just 19, he started his company, Energy Industries Holdings, Inc. and encountered many challenges such as his first rejected sale. But, through his open mind and great listening skills, he overcame many obstacles to becoming the super tech entrepreneur that he is today.

Born and raised in Hilo, Kimura got started in technology when he was a student at Waiakea Intermediate School. He worked on the early “Apple” computer and enjoyed programming and teaching computer sciences to the faculty. When Kimura moved on to UH at Manoa, he worked in the Information and Computer Sciences Department, and that experience helped him found Nalu Communications, an early’ stage ISP. While at Nalu, he discovered that they (and everyone else) were becoming more technocentric- using more computers, and bigger servers. and it would be a disaster if someday, all the energy supply gave way, “I realized at the core of technology was energy, and that disruptions in the energy supply could disrupt all opportunities in technology. From there , I became fascinated with saving , energy through conservation strategies and how to create energy efficiently.”

Kimura loves helping people become energy-efficient. His talent saves his clients a lot of money, and then his clients use a portion of that savin to pay for his services. “This is a win-win situation, not often found in business,” says Kimura. “My work allows me to fight global warming, improve energy stability, and help future generations. These things are really important to me and being able to contribute to these goals helps me feel very satisfied about our business.” And satisfied he is. A typical day for Kimura is starting the day at 6 a.m. driving to town from Ewa, stopping for his morning coffee , arriving at the office at around 6:45 and answering outstanding e-mail or voicemail. He then handles back-to-back staff meetings or client appointments until 6 p.m. From 6 – 7 he’s catching up and leaving for home, getting back to Ewa at around 7:30 p.m., eating dinner with his wife and daughter, and then getting back on the computer from 9 p.m. to midnight when he can really get some work done.

Kimura’s biggest challenge in his work is overcoming predispositions, namely people’s images of the way things should be. When he started the business, Kimura struggled to get meetings with customers or even potential employees, because he was only 19 and nobody took him seriously. “This is an example of the predisposition we spend a tremendous amount of time overcoming and the same can be found in our industry. Our service is to get people to take control of their energy systems, which saves them a lot of money. Yet people resist, because it’s just easier to remain status quo. “Helping them know what they don’t know is a big part of our work,” says Kimura.
He recalls trying to sell a large energy upgrade project to a large, local bank, and after persistently trying to get a meeting with the bank president, finally got the appointment. But not even five minutes into his presentation, the bank president stopped him, and told him how disgusted she was with his presentation. “She told me that I was a terrible sales person, that I spoke too fast , that my presentation made no sense, and that she would never buy what I was selling . Then she asked me to leave and told me how I completely wasted her time” Kimura recalled.

It could easily have been the worst appointment he ever had, but it was the best lesson he ever leamed. Kimura was very discouraged. A few days after that meeting, he was still bothered by the experience and wanted closure. Kimura asked the bank president to critique him and she was brutally frank. She invited him to come back in two weeks if he cleaned up his act, so Kimura took her comments and criticisms, and two weeks later, he went back and instantly signed her up.

Kimura’s wisdom is attributed mainly to leaming a lot at an eady age. Through Kimura’s persistence and winning never-say-die attitude, he has kept a thriving energy solutions business going for 14 years now. His main goal was to create long-term energy and cost savings for
his clients , first with Energy Industries, a multidivisional, intemational company located throughout the U. Sc, Guam, and Hong Kong. Today, he is the president and CEO of Sopogy, a solar-power technology company invented and based in Hawaii, whose solar panels produce electricity and drinking water from seawater and air conditioning , and
have the potential to be the world ’s most cost-effective and robust solar technology.

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