Welcome home, Meli James

Is Meli James an anomaly, or is she the sign of the growing momentum of the tech and innovation ecosystem? So many of the other amazing people featured on this blog have come back for the usual reasons, take care of parents, raise your kids, or both. But Meli came back from Silicon Valley because she saw the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Hawaii and wanted to be a part of it!

Meli was born and raised in Hawaii, graduated from Punahou and went on to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. She then moved to Silicon Valley and started a few mobile app companies before making a gradual move back to Hawaii. Because she had her own company, she could run it from anywhere, and started to come home for longer and longer stretches of time without formally announcing that she’s moving.

It was during those longer and longer stays in Hawaii when she began to see things like cowork spaces and Startup Weekend happening. She started to think that maybe she could have the best of both worlds, the entrepreneurial energy that she felt in Silicon Valley but at home in Hawaii. Meli confirmed her decision when she was offered a position at Blue Startups, Hawaii’s first accelerator, and she’s never looked back!

Hear more about her journey in the podcast below.

Podcast music by Yeyey and Podington Bear

I’m so glad Meli realized that she wanted to invest her energy and effort in the place that she calls home and Hawaii is all the better for it!

One of Meli’s (second from right) favorite things to do in Hawaii is paddle tennis and what makes Hawaii the best place to live, work, and play.

Meli James is a founding partner of Mana Up. She is also currently the president of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association (HVCA). Previously, Meli has been the head of new ventures at Sultan Ventures, as well as program director of XLR8UH. Born and raised in Honolulu, Meli lived in Silicon Valley for over ten years; there, she co-founded and contributed to numerous startups, including Nirvino—a number-one-ranked wine app, an Apple Platform Top 100 app, and a Top Ten Lifestyles app (during its time).


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