The seminar this evening is about entrepreneurship, community impact, and how to get started with a great idea. Meli James, entrepreneur and president of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association, will share her experience with starting organizations from the ground up, describing some of the challenges and surprises along the way. She will discuss her current work as a resource for budding entrepreneurs in Hawaii, including ideas about successful approaches to solving problems and fostering an entrepreneurial mindset. By the end of the session, participants should have a deeper understanding of what it takes to put their own ideas into action, and a strong motivation to go out and get started.
Meli James is the president of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association (HVCA), an organization founded in 1988 that seeks to foster entrepreneurial development through education, networking, and access to capital. Previously, James has been the head of new ventures at Sultan Ventures, a boutique Honolulu-based venture firm focused on early-stage startups and investments as well as the program director of XLR8UH, the University of Hawaiʻi’s (UH’s) nationally recognized proof-of-concept commercialization center focused on mentoring and investing in UH affiliated innovations. Born and raised in Honolulu, James lived in Silicon Valley for over ten years; there, she co-founded and contributed to numerous startups in the Bay Area and Honolulu, including Nirvino—a number-one-ranked wine app, an Apple Platform Top 100 app, and a Top Ten Lifestyles app (during its time). She 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 to small business ideas. In 2016, James was recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of five Women to Watch. In 2017, she was recognized again by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of eight Women Leaders Who Are Disrupting Entrepreneurship. James is a graduate of Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration.