Real + riveting stories of startup life from Hawaii’s Startup Paradise and around the globe

Ever wonder how a startup actually got its start, how a founder beat the odds, or what “It” factors venture capitalists look for? The Startup Catalyst® brings you the real stories behind founders and investors as they trace their personal journeys through the ever-changing yet always exciting world of startups.

Featuring interviews with industry champions like Ross Baird (CEO, Village Capital) and Susan Yamada (Founding CEO, TRUSTe), The Startup Catalyst shares the colorful, can’t-miss lessons they’ve learned as innovators in Hawaii’s Startup Paradise and beyond. Join host Yasmin Dar Fasi as she sits down with a rotating lineup of guests and dives into inspiring stories of startup life. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or have dreams of becoming one, learn firsthand about the ingredients that catalyze startup success, failure, and everything in between.

2018: Season 2

INCLUSIVITY: Minority and Women Entrepreneurs Speak Out

Less than 1% of venture capital investments go to startup founders who are ethnic minorities, and women represent only 14% of executives, 7% of investors, and 16% of founders. Something must be done to close the inclusion gap. As a Startup Catalyst, Sultan Ventures works continuously to foster an ecosystem of inclusivity in the startup and VC community.

What can this community do to promote inclusion? We’ll hear insights from minority and women entrepreneurs and investors and how they’re striving to make a difference. Join host Yasmin Dar as we talk about what it takes to catalyze a necessary change in the industry.


Media Innovator & Businesswoman
Sultan Ventures- Photo of "The Startup Catalyst" host, Yasmin Dar Fasi

Season 1

HAWAII: Startup Success Stories from Paradise

Over the past 5 years, more than 150 startups have gone through Hawaii-based accelerator programs, generating over $250 million in revenue and funding, with numerous successful exits. Yet the majority of startup attention remains focused on the East Coast and San Francisco Bay Area. We hope to change that.

In our pilot season, we shine the spotlight on Hawaii’s extraordinary entrepreneurs, investors, and advocates that are shaping Startup Paradise. Showcasing the amazing talent and innovation in Hawaii and beyond, we’ll hear from guests like Lanai Tabura (Cooking Hawaiian Style) and Peter Rowan (former corporate VP, Coinstar) as they share the ingredients that catalyzed their entrepreneurial and investing success.

Join host Luke Tucker as he kicks off insightful and fun interviews broadcast from Honolulu, Hawaii.


Season 1

Episode 26: Luke Tucker, Venture Associate at Sultan Ventures

EPISODE 26: LUKE TUCKER Venture Associate at Sultan Ventures Today we’ll be flipping the script and guest host Tarik Sultan will be interviewing Luke in our Season 1 Finale of The Startup Catalyst Podcast. Luke has a decade of experience...

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Episode 25: Ross Baird, Founder and CEO at Village Capital

EPISODE 25: ROSS BAIRD Founder and CEO at Village Capital Today’s episode we welcome Ross Baird, Founder and CEO at Village Capital. One of the most amazing stories, I think, in venture these days is the Vilcap Story. You’re going to...

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Episode 24: Emilia Chagas, CEO and Co-Founder at Contentools

EPISODE 24 - EMILIA CHAGAS Today’s episode we welcome Emilia Chagas from Contentools. In the show you’ll learn a little of Emilia’s background being a content expert, launching her business, going through 500 startups, and what it’s like working in...

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Episode 23: Pedro Sorrentino, Venture Associate at FundersClub

EPISODE 23 - PEDRO SORRENTINO Today’s episode we welcome Pedro Sorrentino from FundersClub. You are in for a treat as you get to hear Pedro’s story. Growing up in Sao Paolo, Pedro has been a hustler since his youth. His...

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BONUS show with XLR8UH startups: Algorithmhub, Cropsticks, and MorphOptic

We talk with several XLR8UH cohort companies, including catching up with MorphOptic' CEO and Founder Jeff Kuhn from Cohort 1 and 2 and we also chat with Cohort 4 company founders John Bay from Algorithmhub and Mylen Yamamoto from Cropsticks....

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Episode 21: Proto HUB, REV, and Investing in Community with George Yarbrough

EPISODE 21: GEORGE YARBROUGH Co-founder and Director of Operations at Proto HUB Honolulu Today’s episode we welcome co-founder of the Proto HUB Honolulu, George Yarbrough. He is also the co-creator and facilitator of the Raising Entrepreneurial Ventures Program that just...

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Episode 20: Startup Ecosystem Chat with Village Capital’s Jared Marquette
EPISODE 20 - STARTUP ECOSYSTEM CHAT WITH VILLAGE CAPITAL'S JARED MARQUETTE In today’s show, you’ll learn about Vilcap’s investment model, what the VilCap communities look like and how they were selected, what government’s role should be in ecosystem conversations, how...

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Episode 19: Lanai Tabura, Entertainer & Entrepreneur

EPISODE 20 - STARTUP ECOSYSTEM CHAT WITH VILLAGE CAPITAL'S JARED MARQUETTE In today’s show, you’ll learn about Vilcap’s investment model, what the VilCap communities look like and how they were selected, what government’s role should be in ecosystem conversations, how...

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Episode 18: Lauren Primiano, Managing Member at Reef.VC

EPISODE 18: LAUREN PRIMIANO, MANAGING MEMBER AT REEF.VC Lauren discusses her startup and investing journey, being a competitive wrestler and Hawaii's startup community Lauren has had a diverse career to date, working with various companies and agencies. She’s been an...

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Episode 17: Brett McDonald, CEO and Founder at Vantage Sports

EPISODE 17 BRETT MCDONALD, CEO AND FOUNDER AT VANTAGE SPORTS Brett talks about founding Vantage Sports, a premier sports analytics platform, and moving into the eSports industry. Today’s episode is part tres of our special trifecta of episodes that are...

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Episode 16: Troy Ruediger, Founder at Starters.Co.

EPISODE 16: TROY RUEDIGER Troy discusses his entrepreneurial background, building community, and product development Troy Ruediger has been an early startup employee, repeat founder, and straight up hustler. In his first company he worked at Rukkus, he did everything from Flying...

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Episode 15: Hunter Swensson, COO and Co-Founder at Paranoid Fan

EPISODE 15: HUNTER SWENSSON Hunter discusses his all of his experiences from competing as a professional eSports player to starting his company Paranoid Fan Today’s episode kicks off our special 3-part sports-tech series, just in time for the Olympics. Leading...

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Episode 14: Evan Leong, Entrepreneur & Investor

EPISODE 14: EVAN LEONG Evan stops by to provide insight into starting multiple companies while still balancing his family life Serial Entrepreneur, Evan Leong shares his experiences about being an entrepreneur from a young age, the power of networking, figuring...

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Episode 13: Omar Sultan, Founder and Managing Partner at Sultan Ventures & XLR8UH

EPISODE 13: OMAR SULTAN From New Orleans to Abu Dhabi and Hawaii - Omar shares gems on his journey including his interest in the medical field, computers, and venture capital Omar has been a tireless worker for entrepreneurs, technology, and...

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Episode 12: Michael Keoni DeFranco, CEO & Founder at Lua Technologies

EPISODE 12: MICHAEL KEONI DEFRANCO Michael Keoni sits down to talk about starting Lua, sales strategies, having advisors, and even the Hoku'lea Michael came up with the idea for Lua technologies (secure, mobile-first messaging for the enterprise) in college and...

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BONUS #3 – Week of Blue Startups Cohort 7 Demo Day – Safe Chats CEO and Co-Founder Nikita Osipov

Hey everybody! This is the final show of our bonus series of special programming for the week of Blue Startups Cohort 7 wrapping up with their Honolulu Demo Day last Friday, and leading up to their Silicon Valley Demo Day...

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BONUS #2 – Week of Blue Startups Cohort 7 Demo Day – Activiter CEO and Co-Founder Rob Lafontaine joins us to chat about his Startup and answers Q&A

Part 2 of our 3-part series of special programming for the week of Blue Startups Demo Day for Cohort 7 wrapping up with their Honolulu Demo Day last Friday, and leading up to their Silicon Valley Demo Day this weekend. Today we...

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BONUS – Week of Blue Startups Cohort 7 Demo Day – UNUM Co-Founder Dillon Morgan Chats about his Startup and answers Q&A

This is the first installment of our 3-part series of special programming for the week of Blue Startups Demo Day for Cohort 7 wrapping up with their Honolulu Demo Day last Friday, and leading up to their Silicon Valley Demo...

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Episode 11: Warren Doi, Go To Market Lead at Energy Excelerator

EPISODE 11: WARREN DOI Startup veteran, Warren Doi, shares stories from his career includng GreenCar Hawaii and Energy Excelerator Warren has a diverse background from beginning his career in management consulting for Ernst & Young in London, England, to various...

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Episode 10: Gabe Mott, CEO and Co-Founder at Huedoku

EPISODE 10: GABE MOTT Gabe discusses all of his experiences from working in Silicon Valley to becoming an artist and eventually developing his app Huedoku Gabe began his career at Silicon Graphics, working through the hay day of the dot...

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Episode 09: Mark Quezada, CTO and Co-Founder at Hobnob

EPISODE 09: MARK QUEZADA Mark discusses his experiences in the tech industry and his transition to successful entrepreneur and CTO at Hobnob Mark is the CTO and Co-Founder at Hobnob. Mark is one of the most talented full stack developers...

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Episode 08: Chenoa Farnsworth, Managing Director of Blue Startups and Hawaii Angels

EPISODE 08: CHENOA FARNSWORTH Chenoa discusses startup culture, Hawaii's global startup paradise brand and what she looks for in an investment Chenoa Farnsworth is the managing director of Blue Startups, a top 20 U.S. Accelerator, located in Honolulu, Hawaii. She...

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Episode 07: Sean Ho`okano – Briel, CEO and Co-Founder at Comprendio

EPISODE 07: SEAN HO`OKANO-BRIEL Sean discusses his time in Hawaii, teaching experiences, and the start of his company Sean Ho`okano­-Briel is an educator and lifelong learner committed to fostering transformational learning environments from the classroom to the workforce. He...

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BONUS Episode – HVCA State of the Startup Investment Industry in Hawaii Luncheon

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!...

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Episode 06: Peter Rowan, Angel Investor & Angel in Residence at Sultan Ventures and XLR8UH

EPISODE 06 PETER ROWAN Peter discusses ad agencies in New York, learning Russian, Investing in Redbox, and negotiating tactics Veteran Angel investor Peter Rowan sits down to discuss all of his experiences on his journey from Russian History major to...

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

EPISODE 05: SUSAN YAMADA 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...

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Episode 04: Rechung Fujihira, CEO Box Jelly

EPISODE 04: RECHUNG FUJIHIRA How he started Box Jelly: Hawaii's first co-working space, tips on building community, and why he gives back Rechung Fujihira is Co-Founder and CEO of Box Jelly, Hawaii’s first co-working space. He was also Co-Founder of...

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Episode 03: Steve Haumschild, Angel Investor and Founder and CEO of Lanikai Brewing Company

EPISODE 03 STEVE HAUMSCHILD, CEO LANIKAI BREWING Steve is a successful entrepreneur and investor, in our show he shares a little about his exciting journey Adventureman, investor, and master brewer; Steve shares his experiences in life and business. From living...

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Episode 02: Meli James, Head of New Ventures at Sultan Ventures, Program Director at XLR8UH, President of HVCA

EPISODE 02: MELI JAMES, HEAD OF NEW VENTURES AT SULTAN VENTURES, PROGRAM DIRECTOR AT XLR8UH, AND PRESIDENT OF HVCA Meli discusses her experiences going from Cornell to startups in San Francisco and her work in Hawaii's Startup Paradise. Hawaii native...

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Episode 01: Tarik Sultan, Founder of Sultan Ventures and Managing Partner at XLR8UH

EPISODE 01: TARIK SULTAN, FOUNDER / MANAGING PARTNER AT SULTAN VENTURES AND XLR8UH Tarik talks about financial models, his personal journey and the future of Sultan Ventures SV Partner and Founder chats financials, startups and investing. Tarik Co-founded Sultan Ventures...

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Music Credits:

– Gronlandic Edit by Of Montreal
– Birds of Prey (Fulgeance Emotronical Mix) by Architeq
– Sleepwalk by Santo & Johnny

DJ credits go to Drew Farwell, CEO of Outdoor Junkiez.

Many thanks to past, present, and future guests!