Students develop a bright idea – The Stanford Daily

The Stanford Daily - Brett Kingstone

The Stanford Daily

Andrew Carnegie and Howard Hughes took risks in starting their own businesses — and their innovative daring paid off. Two Stanford student entrepreneurs are hoping their efforts will be successful as well.

Brett Kingstone and George Hara are marketing a patented fiber process to replace large neon light displays. Two signs are already up in Tokyo and the new device should be marketed on the West Coast next year, said Kingstone.

Kingstone, who graduated this year with a B. A. in economics and political science, handles sales and marketing for the fiber optics device. Hara, who switched from the MBA program in the Graduate School of Business to become a master’s candidate in electrical engineering, researched and developed the system. He patented the device last summer after inventing the fiber optics lighting system in Japan with his brother, Kent Hara.

Kingstone and Hara, with input from Stanford business and engineering professors, are creating an essentially multinational corporation, Gekee Fiber Optics, to promote and implement use of the device. Gekee Corporation will receive products through Gekee Holding Ltd., an exempted company based in the Bahamas, an independent state, for tax purposes.

According to Kingstone, the device has potential for use in wide thin-wall TV or video screens, computer output devices, telecommunications output devices, large size scoreboards for stadiums, automation control panels, and traffic indicators. But their initial target is the sign market since the manufacturing for this type of lighting is working already, he said. The three major components of the system include optical fiber means and dot matrices, light sources and mechanical or semiconductor control units which can be combined with a microcomputer to control the length of waves, patterns, color tones and fine tuning.

“Fiberoptics are very thin strands which you can bend and move,” said Kingstone. “We believe it’s going to be the wave of the future for lighting,” said Kingstone. “It’s really on a boom phase.” He compared the innovation to the advent of the computer age. He said fiberoptics are cheaper and easier to use than other systems and that the device has “thousands of applications.”

Hara and Kingstone met working on a project in an industrial engineering class winter quarter. Kingstone said the venture gives him an excellent opportunity to explore the hightech field. He is now awaiting the lateJuly publication of his book, The Student Entrepreneur’s Guide, which was reviewed by the New York Times Book Review in March. The partners will travel to Japan in late September to oversee the quality of fiberoptics production.

By Karen Springen

Read: The Stanford Daily, Volume 179A, Issue 1, 23 June 1981 – Students develop a bright idea


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