Welcome Home, Russel Cheng

If you know Russel, he is a 200 mile/minute person that doesn’t slow down. My hour conversation with him was exhausting and one of the hardest ones to boil down, considering all he’s accomplished! Russel left Hawaii to travel in Asia after school and the experience opened his eyes to the enormous possibilities abroad. Now he’s sharing his experiences with Hawaii startups as well as broadening the potential for kama`aina in tech!

Russel Cheng grew up in Liliha, went to McKinley High School, and got his BA in Finance with a minor in International Studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. With two companies already started, the day after Russel graduated from UH, he left for a 19 day trip to Asia and came back a changed person. He knew he wanted to go back.

Russel built and grew companies that were acquired or went public and took him to places from Japan to Singapore, San Francisco and more. In the meantime, his father got sick and he realized, “you can leave Hawaii, but the Hawaii in you never leaves…”

With his crazy work travel and son growing up too fast, it was easy for Russel to decide to move back to Hawaii. The difficult part was finding a job that would keep his interest! He found a mentor in Greg Kim who gave him the following sage advice:

  • Slow down
  • Take a look around
  • Seek to understand
  • Give where you can
  • Mentor

Russel took it to heart and became known as a startup/entrepreneur mentor.

After working at Oceanit and a few startups, Russel co-founded DevLeague in 2013, Hawaii’s first and only coding bootcamp! He’s been tirelessly building Hawaii’s tech workforce ever since.

Hear more about his journey in the podcast below.

Podcast music by Yeyey and Podington Bear

Russel’s advice to returning kama`aina, “bring something [your experience] back, create an opportunity here.”


This is one of Russel’s favorite things to do and what makes Hawaii the best place to live, work, and play.

Russel Cheng is an experienced entrepreneur, mentor and advisor to early stage startups focused on the intersection of Internet technologies, marketing, business development and international expansion. He is the co-founder of DevLeague, a software developer accelerated learning program for students to become professional web developers over the course of 12 weeks. He is an avid surfer and a nonstop boat-rocker!


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