Episode 05: Susan Yamada, Executive Director Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship


Investing in student entrepreneurs, running startups, and golf handicaps

Ms. Yamada has been the Executive Director of PACE since June 2008. Located within the University of Hawaii’s Shidler College of Business, the Entrepreneurship Center hosts a comprehensive set of programs, utilizing both experiential and mentoring approaches to teaching students and faculty the process of entrepreneurship.

Prior to assuming her position at PACE, Ms. Yamada spent 17 years working in senior management positions at various entrepreneurial start-up companies in California before returning home to Hawaii in 2001.

While in Silicon Valley, Ms. Yamada served as the founding CEO of TRUSTe, the first globally recognized, online privacy seal program dedicated to protecting users’ personal information on the Internet. At TRUSTe, Ms. Yamada served as part of the founding management team for VEO Systems, a business-to-business software developer, which was subsequently sold to Commerce One in 1999.

Prior to founding TRUSTe, she led technology publisher Upside Magazine where she spent five years as the CEO and Publisher. Upside magazine was the first business magazine focusing exclusively on serving the information needs of technology executives.


Websites Mentioned:

Civil Beat

The Skimm

Notable People Mentioned:

Larry Ellison

Marc Benioff

Chris Babel

Walter Dods Jr. 

Shows she likes

Crossing Lines

Favorite Golf Course

Wailua Golf Course

Favorite Book

Running Lean

Institutions and Foundations Mentioned

Commerce Net

Electronic Frontier Foundation


2:36 – CEOs gathered at Upside Summit: Huge success

3:13 – Being fired from Upside Startup, the company she turned around

5:11 – How TRUSTe makes money

6:43 – How the European Union influenced regulations on United States companies

10:07 – TRUSTe’s advertising blitz

12:15 – How TRUSTe started

17:08 – Susan’s introduction to business

21:40 – The Startup of You: Skills needed include… 1. Good communicator, 2. Have common sense, 3. Collaborative spirit, 4. Creative mind, 5. Know how to sell.

23:10 – Learning how to fire an employee

23:47 – Industry tips

26:10 – Susan’s sign to move on

32:40 – Trying to create a new startup while pregnant

34:35 – Moving back to Hawaii

36:08 – Act 221

41:23 – Why Susan decided to become the Executive Director of P.A.C.E

47:40 – How does P.A.C.E fit into the community

53:15 – The goal of the P.A.C.E program and what they want students to get out of it

58:08 – Rapid fire Q&A: Is there a fear of failure in Hawaii, what would excite her as an investor, favorite thing about Hawaii, favorite beach, favorite golf course, recommended blogs or podcasts, best book, last Netflix show she binge watched, most proud career accomplishment

107:42 – Final tips for entrepreneurs