Hawaii native and Silicon Valley veteran, Meli James, discusses her experiences going from Cornell to startups in San Francisco and her work in Hawaii’s Startup Paradise. Meli is the Head of New Ventures at Sultan Ventures, a boutique venture firm leading the transformation of Hawaii into a Startup Paradise; program director for XLR8UH, a national award-winning accelerator; the president of Hawaii Venture Capital Association; and entrepreneur-in-residence at her alma maters: Cornell University’ s Pillsbury Institute and Punahou School.
Born and raised in Honolulu, Meli lived in Silicon Valley for over 10 years, where she co-founded numerous start-ups, including Nirvino – #1 ranked wine app and Apple Platform Top 100 App (during its time). In 2015 she was recognized by Hawaii Business Magazine as one of its 20 to Watch for the Next 20. She has recently been recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of 5 Women to Watch in 2016.
2:26 – What Meli does at Sultan Ventures and XLR8UH
3:24 – How Meli got started in the technology industry
5:00 – Making her way to San Francisco
7:10 – How Meli started working for a private investigator + fun stories of her work while there
11:30 – Helpful tips for entrepreneurs Meli learned from being a private investigator
15:00 – Meli chats about starting Nirvino
19:30 – How Meli realized Nirvino could actually work
23:20 – Lessons Learned (How they got Nirvino to be the #1 wine app in the itunes store)
26:23 – Community Building
29:20 – After Nirvino: Tune Tug Startup
32:50 – Building Community: Strategies coming into Hawaii
42:00 – How the Hawaii startup eco system has evolved (stakeholder alignment)
46:10 – How Meli got to the center of all things startup locally in just 4 years of being home
52:40 – Rapid Fire Questions: Favorite beach, recommendations, final tips for entrepreneurs