Holger Heine and Suzanne Savet have been a part of our Impact Hub HNL community since we were in our ProtoHub location. Holger and Suzanne are dedicated Hosts, and you’ll see them behind the Host desk at least once per week – but sometimes more often! They are also members of the coworking community and you’ll see them around throughout the week.
I was really happy to sit down and learn more about their current business, their background, and how they ended up here in at Impact Hub HNL.
Currently Holger and Suzanne manage Topos Productions and develop digital apps and games. They originally chose the name topos, which means place, location, or opportunity in classical Greek, as the theme for theirSan Francisco.-based special event production and marketing business back in the 1990s. Today, Suzanne explains, instead of curating real-life events, their mobile and web-based app help create customized experiences in the digital sphere.
Over the years, their business model has shifted its focus on creating stronger social impact, aiming to make the world a little better, especially for digitally underserved communities.
One of their larger current projects is the development of an app for people with mild memory problems. The app aims to create a sense of connectedness and importance in people suffering from early Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In addition to reinforcing personal memories, the app connects people with memory problems to their friends and loved ones, helps them stay in touch, and allows them to express their love. Holger and Suzanne are developing the app together with a professor at the John A. Burns School of Medicine and they are currently looking for additional beta testers for the app. If you or someone you know is interested in beta testing the app, please reach out here.
But Holger and Suzanne have not always been app developers – both of them have pretty diverse backgrounds. Suzanne started her career in the meeting and event industry in Washington, DC, and Holger spent many years in the hospitality and transportation industry in San Francisco.
They met while working together at one of the leading destination management and corporate event production companies of San Francisco. In 1996, they took the leap and founded Topos Productions as a special event production company, curating everything from corporate conferences for thousands of people to small, exclusive VIP wine country tours and incentive travel experiences.
The transition to a digital media production and marketing company started early on: their clients started asking them to make websites for their special events and incentive travel programs. In the late 1990s, these were simple ‘brochure’ type sites, and this got Suzanne and Holger to work more often in the digital space. “We look at websites as interactive events, which allowed us to combine our event production skills with website design and online marketing services,” she said.
“Creating a website (or mobile app) is about creating an experience,” says Suzanne, “focusing on the experiential factor in website and app development led us to emphasize user experience as a key component of successful digital media design.” This movement into the digital space meant they could become ‘digital nomads’ in Europe (starting in 2002, before it was a THING!). In 2008, an opportunity for Holger to pursue a PhD by research at the University of Melbourne came along, and Holger and Suzanne left their beloved San Francisco for a four-year stay in Australia.
During their time “down under,” Suzanne worked at the U.S. Consulate General Melbourne and served in the U.S. State Department and U.S. Department of Commerce, helping U.S. companies develop their business in Australia. After four more years of digital nomading, Suzanne and Holger have moved themselves and their business to Hawaii, providing digital media services with aloha.
We’re so grateful that this smart and interesting pair bring their social consciousness and their bright personalities to Impact Hub HNL everyday. Learn more about their business here.