South Sound Internet Mogul in it for the Glory: Zhonka, Jay Stewart

South Sound Internet Mogul in it for the Glory – Business Examiner newspaper’s “Fishbowl” – 6/28/04

Zhonka Broadband Secretary General Jacob Stewart says he runs an Olympia-based Internet Service Provider for the glory.  “I started my current business with an eye toward making a living,” Stewart says, “not striking it rich.”

Stewart is no novice to the Internet game. He started OlyWa.Net in 1995. That first company grew quickly and was netting some $1 million a year before merging with Advanced Telecom Group in 2000.

After the OlyWa.Net merger, Stewart says he took a much needed break from the hectic day-to-day stress of building and running a tech company.  “I needed time to decompress,” he says.

That break didn’t last long. In the wake of the Internet boom, Stewart decided to build a leaner, more efficient business. With the help of a small team of investors, Stewart created Zhonka in 2003.

The life of an entrepreneur can be tough, Stewart says. Entrepreneurs should be prepared for long hours, hard work, planning and perseverance. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his job.  “To any would-be entrepreneur I’d say go for it,” Stewart says, “And don’t let anybody tell you it can’t be done.”

New Bill Keeps Internet Tax-Free – WA ISP Press Release (2004)

NEW BILL KEEPS THE INTERNET TAX-FREE  PRESS RELEASE – April 28, 2004

Washington Association of Internet Service Providers

Gov. Gary Locke signs SB 6259. 20040326-2371 WASENATE db

Ron Main of Cable Communications Assoc., Dave Olson of Zhonka Broadband, and Jacob Stewart & Gary Gardner of WAISP join Gov. Locke for SB 6259 bill signing on March 26 2004.

OLYMPIA – During the recent Legislative session, local Internet businesses and industry groups supported a bill to keep Internet services tax-free, in Washington at least. SB 6259 extends the moratorium on cities and towns imposing new taxes on Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Jacob Stewart, Vice-President of the Washington Association of Internet Service Providers (WAISP) suggests, “This tax moratorium extension is important to encourage the use of new Internet technologies by not encumbering users with confusing and redundant taxes.”

Gary Gardner, Executive Director of WAISP, hopes for a fair chance for ISPs who continue to pay the Business and Occupancy (B&O) taxes assessed to general service businesses. “We don’t feel ISPs should pay a separate rate of B&O tax than other businesses, and we continue to oppose any sort of tax on either ISPs or their customers simply for the privilege of accessing the Internet.”

Dave Olson, of Zhonka Broadband, an Olympia-based ISP, sees some comfort from the extension. “This bill enables ISPs to confidently expand broadband service to under-served markets across the digital divide, resulting in increased marketplace choice in areas like Grays Harbor and the Olympic Peninsula.”

A similar Federal bill (HB 49) passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last year. However the companion Senate bill (SB 150) failed, opening the door for municipalities to levy additional taxes on ISPs and their customers.

As the U.S. Senate again debates the Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act, President Bush offered his encouragement, saying, “If you want broadband access throughout the society, Congress must ban taxes on access.”

In Washington, we already have.

Contact: Dave Olson, Zhonka – Gary Gardner, WAISP

“President Unveils Tech Initiatives” April 26 2004http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/04/20040426-6.html

Free Wi-Fi Surfbreak – Press Release for Zhonka

PRESS RELEASE – April 6, 2004

FREE WI-FI IS THE “SOUP DU JOUR” FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES

OLYMPIA – As part of Zhonka Broadband’s unique “Surfbreak” program, innovative businesses around the Puget Sound are serving up free wireless Internet access for customers.

While other companies offer “wi-fi” (short for wireless fidelity) for a charge, Zhonka’s Surfbreaks are no-cost and hassle free with no login, password, or membership required. With diverse locations from grassy parks to late-night diners, there is a Surfbreak location to suit most anyone’s preference.

As Zhonka’s Secretary General Jacob Stewart notes, “It’s great to see business people and students escape the office or classroom to meet or study in cafes or parks instead.”

Zhonka, an Olympia-based Internet service provider, introduced this unique program in early 2003 and interest quickly spurred expansion to numerous cafes, espresso shops, computer stores, taverns, and public markets throughout Western Washington.

Recent additions include coffee roasters Batdorf & Bronsons’ Dancing Goats cafe, CafŽ Allegro’s two locations near the University of Washington, and the Olympia Farmer’s Market plus a few micro-brew taverns. A complete list – including contact information – is located online athttp://www.zhonka.net/surfbreak/. Locations are also identified with distinctive “Free Wi-fi for the People” posters and window stickers.

The Surfbreak locations use high speed Zhonka DSL connections to power the wi-fi hot-spots. A customer simply brings a wireless ready laptop or PDA to a Surfbreak locations and “Voila!” they are online.

Dave Olson, Zhonka’s Minister of Marketing Affairs puts forth that everyone involved stands to gain from this arrangement, “The Surfbreak program offers participating businesses a strategic advantage over competitors who charge for use. While we certainly enjoy the goodwill and publicity, the biggest winners in this scenario are folks using this exciting new technology.”

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Contact:
Dave Olson Minister of Marketing Affairs
Zhonka Broadband

Thoughts about Elliott Smith dying

Man I am crushed sad about Elliott Smith dying. He was my age, walked the same Division street, drank in the same bars here in Oly when recording for Kill Rock Stars.

Now he’s all dead and another rock n’ roll sidebar – cynical comments about drug and alcohol abuse and pressures of fame.

Sure he was sad, sure he tangled with the bottle but damn, it has been already to hard of a few months – Tommy Chong in jail for 9 months(!), Dan Snyder slipping away, Dany Heatley tortured and hassled — and now Elliott Smith, another talent, impossible to replace.

Either/Or was in the CD player when I heard the news – oddly great loving music for being so sad. I wasn’t sure what to do. I took a few minutes and walked past Kurt Cobain’s house a couple block away and thought of the pain he felt to make that fateful decision. A knife? in the chest? Damn LA. Damn grammy, damn movies soundtracks and publicity shoots or whatever other contrived demon drove him…. geez I hope he’s happier now.

It rained more here than ever before (that’s saying something in the NW), flooing even – seemed a fitting mood to say so long to such a emotionally sophisticated song-crafter.

Re-watching my beloved Canucks trounce the Sabres made me feel only a little better. Elliott was/is to music what Artem Chubarov is to the Canucks – hard working and solid on the details, underrated despite the accolades and not a pretty dude outside, just like the rest of us.

either gone because of the pain or in spite of it
10/23/03 (posted 10/15/04 & 11/17/06)

Zhonka’s Dave Olson and Jay Stewart on Business Examiner 40 Under 40 List (2003)

40 Under 40 selected by (Tacoma, WA) Business Examiner – 6/23/03

Article by Paul Schrag

When more than three dozen “movers and shakers” gather in one place, you can expect the kind of energy that lights up a room, especially when the group consists of ambitious, younger standouts in the world of local business.

That was the case last week, when The Tacoma Club Young Executives and Business Examiner Newspaper Group hosted an event recognizing this inaugural class of 40 Under 40. The energizing power was awe-inspiring, even to older guests at the gathering, who came away with assured that the future of the South Sound is in quality hands.

On the pages that follow, you will have the opportunity to meet this stellar crowd — presented here in alphabetical order — and get to know a little more about what is important to them. Remember that there is far more talent here than can be adequately described in words. When you see them at work, at service or at play in the community, take the initiative to meet them — you will be as impressed. And plan right now to make your own nominations for the 2004 40-Under-40 List when it comes round next spring.


Dave Olson
Minister of Marketing Affairs, Zhonka Broadband
Year of birth: 1970

As a managing partner and marketing director of an Internet service provider, Dave Olson does a lot of document writing, including business plans, proposals, agreements, contracts, press releases, marketing collateral, letters, technical FAQs and media articles. He also oversees corporate governance and company financing issues under his title as Minister of Marketing Affairs.

“Additionally, I organize and implement advertising campaigns, special events and promotions including the free community wireless access surfbreaks,’ customer appreciation parties and donated access,” he explains.

“I aim to help grow Zhonka Broadband into an innovative and profitable ISP serving communities throughout the Northwest region,” Olson says.

“I would also like to finish my elusive Evergreen degree and perhaps attend law school at UBC specializing in intellectual property, international trade and arbitration. One way or another, I hope to continue to travel internationally and perhaps make another documentary film or two,” he adds.

Olson’s role models and heroes have always been writers, artists, activists and adventurers such as H.D. Thoreau, Edward Abbey, Gary Snyder, Walt Whitman, Edmund Hilary, Thor Heyerdahl, Leo Tolstoy, Vaclav Havel, Leo da Vinci, etc.


Jay Stewart
Co-founder/Technology guru, Zhonka Broadband
Year of birth: 1966

As an entrepreneur in a high-tech small business, Zhonka Broadband co-founder and Technology Guru Jacob Stewart finds that he wears many different hats at different times as necessitated by circumstance.

“As a managing partner of the LLC, I am Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Technical Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief (insert any adjective) Officer, salesman, network architect, government relations, customer support representative,” he continues. “I am also office supply clerk and, sometimes, janitor.”

He feels the real gratification comes when the business starts to flourish after putting in so much time generating business plans and standards of practice, finding investors for funding, networking with the local business community and marketing our business directly to the community.

“That is the most fulfilling part of my job,” Stewart says.

Stewart was also co-founder and Vice-president of Information Technology and chairman of the board for ISP, Oly.Wa.net and currently serves as vice-president of Washington Association of Internet Service Providers, which helped push through the state’s anti-SPAM bill. He also serves as chairman of the board of the Washington State Internet Lobby.

“In the next 10 years, I would like to see Zhonka Broadband grow to be a major player and shaper of the high speed Internet access market throughout Washington State and the Northwest,” he says. “Our business plan includes conservative, yet steady, growth of our geographic service area to 10 states in the Northwest and Midwest region.”

Stewart would also like to formalize his college degree by getting his credits transferred to one institution, so that he may graduate and continue graduate studies in management and the global economy.

He admits that he can’t point to any one person in his life who he tries to emulate or from whom he learned his business skills.

“I guess I feel my generation didn’t have a lot of heroes’ to emulate,” he explains. “We had to find inspiration on our own.

“I’d say that, if I wanted to point to someone as an inspiration to me today, it would be George Soros,” Stewart adds. “This international billionaire, financier, philanthropist, who grew up in Hungary during the harsh oppressive regimes of both the Nazis and the Soviet Union, has my respect.”

Stewart says his admiration of Soros stems from both his financial success and his advocacy of a civil “Open Society.”

“He had a philosophy that espoused openness,” says Stewart, “and condemns totalitarianism and tyranny in all its forms, in both the social and financial spheres of politics.”

Youth hockey, disposible movies and Interweb start-ups

So being back to work in this start-up is starting to be a regular job and not too bad at that – well it would be better if i was getting paid ;-)  This weekend was split between hockey and housecleaning. I worked sorta late on Friday trying to get some stuff to the printers (unsuccessfully BTW) so didn’t go to pick-up hockey that night, opting rather to go out and about with my gf, the lovely Ms. Lisa. We went for a beverage at the Westside lanes bowling alley and sipping while people watching, figuring out who’s who in different bowling groups, enjoying the interpersonal dynamics amongst the vinyl benches and curvy chairs on the mezzanine level.

Then off to the movie theater at the dang ole mall. I usually would drive to Yelm to see a flick but the 40 minute drive wasn’t sounding too enjoyable so we braved the sticky floors and smell of diapers. Saw the Mike Myers and some eye candy chickies in a movie about following your dreams – in this case as a flight attendant. Rather disposable movie but some funny bits.

Super ChiefsSo Saturday was a big day at the Evergreen pavilion as my Chiefs youth hockey teams started their season, plus a big win for the Canucks that night but i got a few things to do so that will wait til later …

OlyWa, Monday, April 14, 2003

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