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Sultan Ventures is a boutique venture firm focusing on early-stage startups and investments. We provide pivotal resources via our powerful network of experts and investors, while providing the hands-on expertise necessary to accelerate growth.

Over the years we’ve expanded our team to meet our mission of catalyzing startup growth in Hawaii and startup hubs across the country. Sultan Ventures has successfully raised over 17 million dollars in the Hawaii startup community since inception.

Our team manages two Hawaii-based funds, both affiliated with the University of Hawaii: The Upside Fund, which invests in UH Intellectual property startups, and XLR8UH, an award-winning Venture Accelerator focused on empowering the University of Hawaii’s entrepreneurs including students, faculty, alumni, and those interested in helping commercialize UH technologies.

Network

Professional ties with investors and experts in the following cities

Partners

Our partners supply unparalleled value and expertise, allowing our companies to be a step ahead of the competition. We currently work with companies such as:

Team

Whatever a startup needs, we have the talent to tackle it.

Omar Sultan

Managing Partner

Omar co-founded Sultan Ventures and he is a Founding and Managing Partner of XLR8UH, the University of Hawaii’s (UH’s) award winning venture accelerator focused on mentoring and investing in UH affiliated innovations. He has received personal and professional accolades including being recognized in 2015 by Hawaii Business Magazine’ 20 for the next 20 and Pacific Business News’ Forty under 40. Omar was awarded along with his brother Tarik, as the 2014 Hawaii Venture Capital Association’s (HVCA) Investors of the Year. Omar is also Vice President of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Hawai’i, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that helps great entrepreneurs become great philanthropists, VP of Ala Wai Pharma, a drug delivery company focused on increasing the bioavailability of polar drugs, and also helps manage the UPSIDE Fund, a venture fund focused on commercializing University of Hawaii intellectual property. He holds a BSM in Finance from Tulane University’s AB Freeman School of Business and an MBA from the Shidler College of Business.

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Tarik Sultan

Managing Partner

Tarik Co-founded Sultan Ventures and XLR8UH and along with his brother Omar is the recipient of the 2014 Hawaii Venture Capital Association’s (HVCA) Investors of the Year. Tarik serves as the Chair of Startup Hawaii, the regional chapter of Up Global (formerly Startup America) as a Board Member and Treasurer of the HVCA, a non-profit which seeks to foster entrepreneurial development through networking, education, and access to venture capital; and has been federally appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce as a Member of the Hawaii Pacific Export Council, a non-profit organization of local leaders and experienced international business professionals who provide assistance to local businesses expanding in international markets.  Tarik has worked with, advised, and led several startups, most recently as Interim CFO of Ibis Networks, a venture backed cleantech startup focused on reducing energy consumption. Tarik holds a BS from Tulane University with a focus on Neuroscience and Cognitive Studies and an MBA from the Shidler College of Business.

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Aya Sultan, MD PHD

Partner

Along with her brothers, Dr. Aya Sultan is also Founding Partner of Sultan Ventures. Dr. Aya Sultan recently opened Honu Women’s Health, a private Ob/Gyn and aesthetics practice dedicated to helping women achieve “Inner Health and Outer Beauty”. She has over 20+ years experience in medicine and research, which she utilizes extensively to provide her patients with the most innovative, comprehensive, and personalized care delivered in a compassionate manner. She received her MD from UMDNJ, her PhD from University of Maryland, Baltimore, and completed her residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, here in Hawaii. She was then recruited to Stanford University where she held a dual position in the Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Medical Oncology and focused on ovarian cancer research while mentoring and teaching medical students and residents. After nearly six years at Stanford, she returned to Honolulu to open Honu Women’s Health to offer the women of Hawaii her medical expertise and cosmetic knowledge. The practice is located in the heart of downtown Honolulu, promising minimal to no wait appointment times and ease of visits.

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Melialani James

Head of New Ventures

Meli James is the Head of New Ventures at Sultan Ventures, a Honolulu-based boutique venture firm focused on early-stage startups and investments. Meli is also the Director of XLR8UH, the University of Hawaii’s (UH’s) nationally recognized venture accelerator focused on mentoring and investing in UH affiliated innovations. Additionally, she is President of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association, an organization that seeks to foster entrepreneurial development through education, networking, and access to capital. Born and raised in Honolulu, Meli lived in Silicon Valley for over 10 years, where she co-founded and contributed to numerous start-ups in the Bay Area and Honolulu, including Nirvino – #1 ranked wine app, an Apple Platform Top 100 App, & Top Ten Lifestyles App (during its time). Meli is a founding member of the Startup Paradise initiative helping to build a thriving startup community that nurtures collaboration and innovation in Hawaii. She is committed to establishing resources to grow talent and high-growth ideas. In 2016 she was recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of 5 Women to Watch. She is an alumna of and Entrepreneur In Residence at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.

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Peter Rowan

Angel in Residence

Peter Rowan was Corporate Vice President, New Ventures at Coinstar from 2001-2010. During his tenure, the company grew from $150 million to $1.3 billion in revenue, entered new lines of business and introduced innovative growth initiatives like its DVD kiosks, money transfer, and e-payment programs. At Coinstar, Peter led more than 20 acquisitions, investments and divestitures, including its investment in Redbox. Peter has taught entrepreneurship and new venture strategy since 2005. He is active in the entrepreneurial community as an advisor, mentor and investor. He has a BA in Russian History from Cornell University, an MA in International Policy Studies and an MBA from Monterey Institute of International Studies. In his role as Angel in Residence for Sultan Ventures and XLR8UH, he works with portfolio companies actively through mentorship, and advisory roles.

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Katarina Poljakova

Venture Analyst

Kate was born and raised in Slovakia and moved to Hawaii after she got recruited to play for University of Hawaii (UH) Division 1 Women Tennis team. After she became a team captain in her junior year, she led her team to first ever conference championship in UH Women Tennis team history. In addition to her student- athlete achievements, she was selected to represent Shidler College of Business in CFA Research Challenge. After winning the local round, her team got placed in the top 20 teams within North and South Americas region. During her studies, Kate also worked as an Academic Mentor and Financial/Accounting Tutor for student- athletes. Kate graduated from University of Hawaii Shidler College of Business in Spring 2014, where she earned a BBA in Finance and International Business. In her role as Venture Analyst at Sultan Ventures, she focuses on financial analysis and operation support. She is also a Program Associate for XLR8UH assisting with program management.

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Lauren Nagata

Operations & Legal Associate

Lauren graduated with her JD/MBA in 2015 and was awarded the CALI Excellence of the Future Award for Evidence as well as a PACE fellowship to facilitate establishment of an angel investment group in Vietnam. Lauren currently serves as a law fellow with the Hawaiʻi Emerging Legal Practitioners Project, devoting her work to utilizing visual design and low cost legal services to address access to justice issues. A graduate of ʻIolani School, Lauren holds a BS in Business Administration from Chapman University, an MBA from the Shidler College of Business, and a JD from the William S. Richardson School of Law. Lauren focuses on operations, legal, and design for Sultan Ventures and XLR8UH.

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