Introducing The All-New Podcast: The Startup Catalyst Version 2.0

Today we’re excited to unveil the re-launch of our podcast “The Startup Catalyst” with a brand new season, a brand new host, Yasmin Dar, and a brand new podcast theme that we’re really passionate about. Season 2 is focused entirely on inclusivity in the startup and VC community, a space where the diversity stats are…Read More

Immigrants Get The Job Done In Hawaii

Here’s who they are and what they contribute to the local economy. Immigrants have an outsized place in Hawaii’s history. In the 19th and early 20th centuries they came from Japan, China, Puerto Rico and the Portuguese Azores and sustained the labor-intensive sugar and pineapple industries that dominated the state until a generation ago, creating…Read More

Engine: Loss of net neutrality puts innovation at risk in Hawaii

Tarik Sultan, is a managing partner at Sultan Ventures based in Honolulu.  The world of innovation is at an exciting point in time, unrivaled by anything we’ve ever seen before. The cost of launching a startup has never been cheaper and the process has never been more efficient. This is largely due to reduced business costs (e.g….Read More

Star Advertiser: Loss of net neutrality puts innovation at risk in Hawaii

As the most isolated archipelago on Earth, Hawaii has long had a challenging economic riddle to solve: How does a group of remote islands in the middle of the Pacific participate in today’s global economy? The answer has depended on Hawaii’s ability to connect with the world through technology.      How we embrace, foster…Read More

XLR8UH named one of ‘The Best Startup Accelerators Of 2017’ by Forbes.

The Best Startup Accelerators Of 2017  by Alex Konrad , Forbes Staff. Covering venture capital, software and startups . Jun 7, 2017 The startup accelerator remains one of tech’s most popular ways to get a business up and running. But which ones are the best for new startups? With hundreds of programs to choose from — the most popular…Read More

Reversing Hawaii’s Brain Drain

Five steps local leaders are taking right now to persuade bright young kamaaina to stay home or come back By LiAnne Yu Tony Marzi is the kind of kamaaina that Hawaii’s business and community leaders hope will come home. The 32-year-old grew up on Hawaii Island, graduated in computer science from UH Hilo, founded a coworking…Read More

XLR8UH Wins National Award For The Third Year In A Row

XLR8UH was named one of only 20 national winners of the U.S. Small Business Association’s (SBA) Growth Accelerator Fund competition. This marks the third year in a row that XLR8UH has won the competition, which includes a $50,000 cash award. XLR8UH was the only winner from Hawaiʻi in this year’s SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund competition, which is designed to draw attention and…Read More


Event Description 2017 InnovateHER is a cross-cutting national prize competition aimed at unearthing innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families. From the pool of semi-finalist, The Small Business Administration (SBA) will select up to 10 finalist who will be invited to the National Challenge to be held…Read More

XLR8UH Makes List of Best Startup Accelerator Programs of 2017

XLR8UH, the University of Hawaii’s accelerator program, was named one of the nation’s best startup accelerators of 2017. “This is great momentum for innovation and startups in Hawaii, the university and Startup Paradise,” said Omar Sultan, managing director of XLR8UH. “We’re obviously very happy for the national recognition.” XLR8UH made the “Bronze” category in the…Read More

Master’s in Data Science Programs in Hawaii

Master’s in Data Science Programs in Hawaii The Aloha State may not be Silicon Paradise (yet), but it’s trying! To get you up-to-speed, we’ve put together a short guide to earning a HI data science degree. It has details on everything from research & scholarships to startups & salary numbers. Already have a university in…Read More

Tarik Sultan, Founder of Sultan Ventures, on Overcoming Talent Deficits

Tarik Sultan is the Founder and Managing Partner of Sultan Ventures, an investment firm, and Founder and Managing Partner of XLR8UH, the University of Hawaii (UH) venture accelerator program is an active leader in the Hawaiian startup community and focused on talent development. This time for the #StartupsEverywhere, series, he talks with me about his investment fund,…Read More

Hawaiian Baby Food Concept Takes Top Prize at Startup Event

The Maui News Poi Belly, a Hawaiian on-the-go baby food concept company using locally sourced ingredients, took first place in the Startup Weekend Maui event, held from Friday to Sunday at the Maui Research & Technology Park in Kihei. Jody Yoshida, Lauren Burgess and Naomi Glass had 54 hours to create a new business from…Read More

Entrepreneurs Get a Dose of Inspiration at MEDB’s Three-Day Startup Weekend

Thirty would-be entrepreneurs hit the ground running for the fourth annual Startup Weekend Maui, which began Friday and culminates today at the Maui Research and Technology Park in Kihei. With the overarching theme of “the hardest part of starting up is starting out,” the three-day event, presented by Maui Economic Development Board, is designed to…Read More

Sultan Ventures’ Meli James gets Entrepreneur Magazine mention

Meli James, head of new ventures at Honolulu-based Sultan Ventures, has landed another mention in Entrepreneur Magazine. The magazine included James in its list of “ 8 Women Leaders Who Are Disrupting Entrepreneurship.” James received a mention last year as well, when the magazine featured her as a woman to watch in 2016. The magazine…Read More


Q: I’m an independent entrepreneur with a great business plan. How do I get into an incubator? A: First determine whether an accelerator is the right path for your startup. We get many teams looking for investment capital when they should focus on obtaining a loan or simply on organic growth. If investment capital is…Read More

8 Women Leaders Who Are Disrupting Entrepreneurship

Hawaii is an amazing tourist location, but few think of it as a good place to found a startup. That’s going to change — and soon, if Melialani James has anything to do with it. Now Head of New Ventures at Sultan Ventures, James has made it her mission to transform Hawaii into a tech…Read More

Benefits of Lean Startup Methodology for Businesses Touted at Workshop

The old adage “If you build it they will come” flew out the door during Maui Economic Development Board’s “Business Model Canvas & Lean Startup Overview” workshop held on Feb. 15. In its place came the advice to all entrepreneurs and small business owners: “Best to not build anything until you figure out first what…Read More

The Innovation Economy

Susan Yamada is the Executive Director of the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) located within the University of Hawaii’s Shidler College of Business. Omar Sultan is Managing Partner of Sultan Ventures and Founding Managing Director of XLR8UH. Kyle Chang is the Co-founder of HealthTechApps, Inc. Susan, Omar and Kyle join Jay Fidell on ThinkTech…Read More

Hawaii start-ups swim with legislative sharks

Some “Hawaii Start-Ups” swam with the sharks at the State Capitol. Just like the hit ABC show “Shark Tank”, local entrepreneur’s pitched their innovative ideas. On the show “Shark Tank” start-ups hope to catch the eye of a billionaire investor. At the State Capitol, new companies wanted instead to connect with lawmakers. “This is really to…Read More


  As a New Orleans college student in 2005, Tarik Sultan was on track for a career in medicine or research, like many in his family, when Hurricane Katrina hit. With the city in ruins, he had no idea how to help. “I looked around, and the people making the most impact were those with…Read More

Furikake Puff Maker Eyes Mainland Costcos

By Kathryn Mykleseth March 6, 2017 After 21 years of business in Hawaii, a family-run bakery and restaurant chain is working to sell some of its products on the mainland. Matcha macarons, the Big Boy deli sandwich and braised-duck dip panini are some of the items on La Tour Cafe’s menu familiar to its Hawaii…Read More

Lean Startup Methodology Touted at MEDB Workshop

The old adage, “if you build it they will come” flew out the door during Maui Economic Development Board’s “Business Model Canvas & Lean Startup Overview” workshop held on February 15th. In its place, came the advice to all entrepreneurs and small business owners, “Best to not build anything until you figure out first what…Read More

#StartupsEverywhere: Tarik Sultan Interview

#StartupsEverywhere Profile: Tarik Sultan, Founder and Managing Partner of Sultan Ventures, Honolulu, HI This profile is part of #StartupsEverywhere, an ongoing series highlighting startup leaders in ecosystems across the country. This interview has been edited for length, content, and clarity. Tarik Sultan is the Founder and Managing Partner of Sultan Ventures, an investment firm, and…Read More


Hawaii’s advantages and disadvantages make it a good place to experiment with ag technology and innovations. Imagine a world in which robots, drones and artificial intelligence plant, monitor, harvest, and deliver your food. This may sound like science fiction, but it is, in fact, the emerging reality in farming. “We’re seeing robots that can plant,…Read More

Two Workshops Kick Off MEDB’s Startup Weekend Maui Series

The Maui Economic Development Board will offer two workshops in February as part of its 2017 Startup Weekend Maui Series. Entrepreneurs interested in jump-starting their new business or fine-tuning their existing business are encouraged to attend either or both of these sessions. Workshops will be held at MEDB’s Malcolm Center, located at 1305 N. Holopono…Read More

State of Startup Paradise

The number of startups in Hawaii has increased from 18 in 2013 to 145 in 2016 and total capital (revenue and funding raised) jumped from $28 million in 2013 to over $252 million in 2016, according to a “snapshot report” compiled by Sultan Ventures, a Honolulu-based boutique venture firm focusing on early-stage startups. The report is…Read More

Hawaii’s Startup Scene

“To get Honolulu on par with vibrant startup communities, we need more companies emerging from Hawai‘i’s centers of excellence and more engagement from the corporate leaders.” —Tim Dick, Startup Capital Ventures Hawai‘i’s venture community has set its sights on leveraging the state’s unique cultural environment and transnational ties to attract and retain both entrepreneurs with…Read More

Hawaii Governor Will Propose $10 Million of State Budget Be Used to Help Build Innovation Sector

(TNS) — Hawaii Gov. David Ige has pledged to propose $10 million of the state budget be used to help build the innovation sector. Ige said he would request the funds be used for the state-run HI Growth Initiative, which was created to attract private investment to innovation in Hawaii. “It really is about how…Read More

The Startup Catalyst Podcast: Wrapping Up a Fantastic Season

One thousand six hundred ninety. That is the amount of interview minutes we’ve recorded and published in our 30 total episodes (including bonus shows). That’s over 2.7 gigabytes worth of conversation, laughter, and yes, even some emotional moments. It’s been a fantastic ride, and this content is and always will be available for free, accessible…Read More

And the Winners of UberPITCH Are…

A week ago, we held Hawaii’s first #UberPITCH event to promote and support our Startup Paradise ecosystem. Sultan Ventures was honored to partner with Uber on this great initiative and bring it to Oahu and Maui. The event took place over the course of 4 hours where roughly a dozen investors heard dozens of pitches….Read More

Maui investors looking for uber-good ideas

The only thing standing between a few Maui entrepreneurs and startup funding might be one 15-minute car ride. On Tuesday, aspiring business owners will get the chance to pitch their best ideas to 12 investors – nine on Oahu and three on Maui – during free, 15-minute rides through a new project called UberPITCH. Created…Read More

UberPITCH in Hawaii

  UBER PITCH IN HAWAII Every day Uber helps connect thousands of people to a reliable ride across Oahu and Maui. But that’s not all our technology can do. This month, we’re connecting riders with local industry experts from Sultan Ventures to create a unique mentorship opportunity at the tap of a button. SUBMIT YOUR…Read More

Your Investor is Arriving In a Startup Paradise Uber Near You

The elevator pitch is that 30-second window entrepreneurs have to grab the attention of listeners and excite potential investors. The future of one’s company can hinge on the success or failure of your elevator pitch. We coach our startups that you should “always be pitching”. Honing, improving, updating, tailoring for your audience. Well get ready…Read More


The number of women in the workforce is close to surpassing that of men, yet the number of female venture capital partners dropped to a paltry six percent in 2014, down from 10 percent in 1999. To buck the trend, the U.S Small Business Association created the InnovateHER Challenge, a national competition designed to highlight…Read More

Podcast Bonus Special Recap: Week of Blue Startups Cohort 7 Demo Day

Last week we interviewed three different CEO’s from Blue Startups Cohort 7. The podcasts are available on iTunes, Soundcloud, or your podcast catcher of choice. Check out the 3 interviews below! Also, if you happen to be in The Bay Area this Friday, stop by the 500 Startups Mountain View Office. See the team’s pitch…Read More

The Startup Catalyst™ Podcast: 45-Days in Review

Reflecting back upon the approximately 1 and 1/2 months of the podcast, it’s been a wild ride! With about 10 guests under our belts, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some thoughts and statistics of the past 6+ weeks. We’ve been fortunate to welcome over 10 amazing people on to the…Read More

Summer is No Time to Coast!

It’s officially summer. While so many of our thoughts zoom in on vacation plans, small business owners and entrepreneurs are staying busy, focusing on customer service, marketing, improving products and services to keep things heated up! There’s plenty of ideas and support from resources of SBA and business and community partners. Read on! ACCESS TO CAPITAL…Read More

Garbage to Garden wins $100K Greenlight Maine prize

Garbage to Garden, the Portland-based company offering curbside composting, bested the competition Friday night to win the inaugural Greenlight Maine competition and its $100,000 top prize. The company, founded by Tyler Frank in 2012, has reached deep penetration in the greater Portland region. Currently, the company claims one in seven households in Portland are a customer. Garbage to Garden also…Read More

HVCA's State of the Startup Investment Industry in Hawaii

Each year, Hawaii Venture Capital Association has a “State of the Startup Investment Industry” talk with panel discussion and investor presentations reviewing and forecasting developments both locally and nationally. This year we were fortunate to attend and record the proceedings! We’ve included the audio from the event in a bonus episode of The Startup Catalyst…Read More

Startup venture accelerator XLR8UH announces fourth cohort

The University of Hawaiʻi selected 12 teams as finalists for the fourth cohort of its XLR8UH startup venture accelerator. The pioneering enterprises in this round include: paddleboards for the disabled, organic cookies using locally sourced ingredients, an app for concussion patients and an online platform for students to search for scholarships. These teams have the…Read More

MEDB offers free “Entrepreneurs’ Toolkit Bootcamp” workshop for Lanai residents

MEDB’s Innovation Series helps build foundations for business success KIHEI, Maui, Hawaii – June 1, 2016 – Lanai residents interested in starting a business or renewing their existing one are encouraged to attend a FREE two-day workshop, “Entrepreneurs’ Toolkit Bootcamp,” on June 25 and 26. Presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) as part of…Read More

Sultan Ventures Continues Commitment To Startup Weekend

This past weekend, Sultan Ventures Partner Omar Sultan participated as a judge in the Maui Startup Weekend Event hosted by the Maui Economic Development Board held at the Maui Tech Park. “Our company has been involved in every Startup Weekend in Hawai‘i since the beginning, because we think it’s a great entry point for local…Read More

We've Launched a Podcast! Introducing The Startup Catalyst™ Podcast Show

We’re very excited to announce the launch of our very own startup podcast. We will be interviewing entrepreneurs and investors in Hawaii and around the globe! At Sultan Ventures, we believe in learning from others and the show is all about knowledge transfer — what inputs, experiences, tools & practices or lucky draws catalyzed an investor’s…Read More

Civil Geeks: Boosting UH Entrepreneurs

A program helps turn ideas born at the University of Hawaii into new businesses Water recycling toilets, cancer treatments inspired by marine sponges, and a new way to measure the charge left in your cell phone batteries were among the innovative ideas featured at this week’s UH Tech Showcase downtown. These showcase events are designed to…Read More

What is Slack and Why It is So Important for Your Business

I had the opportunity to present at the Digital Marketing Summit with a Dash of SaaS Conference in Honolulu today. In addition to hosting a Startup Panel with XLR8UH Portfolio Companies Comprendio and MeetingSift, as well as Brian Rabben from Blue Startups, I prepared a presentation on the importance of Slack. Slack is the fastest…Read More

The Best of the Launch NY LaunchHour Twitter Chat

Yesterday, I was invited to participate in the Launch NY LaunchHour Twitter chat with fellow Vilcap community members. We had a wonderful and vibrant conversation addressing some serious questions facing entrepreneurs and investors everywhere. The top tweets are embedded for each answer based upon favorites or retweets. At Sultan Ventures, we really see efforts like…Read More

It Takes a Village … And a HUI – Midweek Article

We are very fortunate to have Christina O’Connor from Midweek write a story on the recent Vilcap announcement that we are joining with a group of innovators here in the state of Hawaii that was selected as part of the Village Capital’s Inaugural Community Initiative. See article pdf posted below [click to enlarge image] and…Read More

Sultan Ventures Is Everywhere In Hawaii’s Tech Scene

Thanks to our friends at Civil Beat for covering us in a recent article. Thank you to Jason Rushin for the piece! See the full article on Civil Beat’s website. Civil Bytes: Sultan Ventures Is Everywhere In Hawaii’s Tech Scene Some excerpts: – – Sultan Ventures [is] taking a leading role in getting tech-friendly bills…Read More

Sultan Ventures Leads Hawaii HUI To Be Part Of Inaugural VilCap Communities

We are honored to be a part of the VilCap Communities Program! See press release excerpt below and check out the Pacific Business News article covering the exciting news. – – Sultan Ventures, a boutique venture firm based in Honolulu, has once again put Hawaii’s Startup Paradise on the nation’s map. Selected from a singularly…Read More

XLR8UH Awarded $1M from Economic Development Association and University of Hawaii

XLR8UH, the University of Hawaii’s proof of concept center and venture accelerator, has received a $500,000 grant from the federal Economic Development Administration to strengthen its commercialization projects across the state. Matching funds are provided by the University proving their commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship accomplished by XLR8UH, which Sultan Ventures co-founded and manages. The…Read More

XLR8UH receives $500K federal grant

XLR8UH, the University of Hawaii’s proof of concept center and venture accelerator, has received a $500,000 grant from the federal Economic Development Administration to strengthen its commercialization projects across the state. The grant was part of the 2015 Regional Innovation Strategies Program that aids commercialization, entrepreneurship and job creation projects at a grassroots level. About…Read More

UH accelerator awarded $500,000 to expand statewide outreach

  The University of Hawaiʻi’s proof of concept center/venture accelerator XLR8UH was recently awarded a $500,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to expand its successful commercialization efforts statewide, including underserved rural communities on the neighbor islands. “We are pleased that the EDA recognized the value and promise of our XLR8UH program,” said Vassilis…Read More

Proto HUB Honolulu Now Being Hosted at Sultan Ventures Offices Downtown

Sultan Ventures is proud to host the Proto HUB members in its downtown Honolulu Headquarters. Members have access to 1,500 square feet of co-working space as well as break-out rooms and a 12-member conference room. Guests are treated to spanning views of downtown Honolulu, and impressive ocean views of Aloha Tower and Honolulu Harbor. The…Read More

2016's Women to Watch

Melialani James Entrepreneurial Aloha Locals call it the “brain drain”: Homegrown entrepreneurs from Hawaii follow the jet stream to the mainland for school and pretty much never return. Melialani James saw it happen for years. So she chose a different path. Yes, the 37-year-old Honolulu native went east in her 20s, but in 2012, after…Read More

Sultan Ventures’ Head of New Ventures, Meli James, Selected as One of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Women To Watch

Some big news for the team here at Sultan Ventures as Meli James was recognized as one of five women nationally by Entrepreneur Magazine in their 2016 Women to Watch. See the writeup on Entrepreneur Magazine below and Pacific Business News coverage of the story. Congrats Meli! – – Entrepreneurial Aloha Locals call it the…Read More

XLR8UH Recognized by SBA as one of the Nation’s most Innovative Accelerators

We are incredibly proud to have XLR8UH recognized by the U.S. Small Business Association as an innovative accelerator program. See excerpt of the press release below: XLR8UH has been recognized as one of the nation’s most elite accelerators by the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA). XLR8UH was selected from applicants across the nation to receive $50,000 in…Read More

Talk Story – Omar & Tarik Sultan

Hawaii Business Magazine Featured SV Partners Omar and Tarik Sultan in the May 2015 issue. See original article on the Hawaii Business Magazine website, and full copy included below: The Sultan brothers are a major new force in Hawaii’s venture capital and startup communities. Their two platforms are Sultan Ventures, a Hawaii-based venture capital firm,…Read More

Hawaii-based Sultan Ventures hires three executives as it expands

Hawaii-based Sultan Ventures, a boutique venture firm focusing on early-stage startups and investments, has hired executives to head three areas — new ventures, strategic partnerships and investor relations. Meli James will head the new ventures department and will focus on spinning out existing portfolio projects and launching new companies and initiatives. She is the president…Read More

Hawaii’s Startup Paradise Demo Day gives companies a chance to pitch investors

Hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors and companies that support startup businesses will gather at the Sheraton Waikiki on Wednesday for the 2013 Hawaii VC Summit and Startup Paradise Demo Day, hosted by Sultan Ventures and the Hawaii Strategic Development Corp. The full-day event will include a crowdfunding workshop, a “Startup Paradise” panel discussion, lunch with keynote…Read More