Sultan Ventures Grows Team


Sultan Ventures is adding capacity in three areas: New Ventures, Strategic Partnerships and Investor Relations. To do so, the firm has grown its team, bringing on board Melialani “Meli” James, previously the program manager at Blue Startups, Bryan Butteling, lead organizer for Startup Weekend Hawaii, and Peter Rowan, an angel investor, educator and entrepreneur.

“We’re excited about the addition of Peter, Meli and Bryan,” said Tarik Sultan, founder and managing partner of Sultan Ventures. “All three have contributed towards building Hawaii’s startup ecosystem, share our vision and values and will extend our expertise and reach. They are an incredible complement to our current team and an asset to the startups and investors we serve.”

melijamesJames is an Oahu-born and raised serial entrepreneur, and will head up New Ventures for the firm. James will focus on spinning out existing portfolio projects and launching new companies and initiatives. She is president of HVCA and founder of Hon New Tech, a popular startup pitch event. She’s also an entrepreneur in residence (EIR) at Cornell University’s Pillsbury Institute, a prestigious Cornell appointment. James, a Punahou graduate, lived in Silicon Valley for more than 10 years where she co-founded and contributed to numerous start-ups in the Bay Area. She graduated from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.

Butteling’s efforts will concentrate on marketing, branding and strategic partnerships for SV and associated portfolio companies. He has nearly a decade of experience in marketing and working with startups – most recently as the business development manager at Nella Media Group, where he oversaw new partnerships, sales and distribution. He was also a key factor for the branding and growth of BoxJelly, Hawaii’s first and largest coworking space. Butteling serves on the board at Startup Hawaii and is part of the organizing team at Ad Up Hawaii. He attended the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, where he double-majored in marketing and international business.

Rowan will assist with investor relations at SV as the angel in residence. During his tenure as corporate vice president of New Ventures at Coinstar (NASDAQ: OUTR) from 2001-2010, the company grew from $150 million to $1.3 billion in revenue, entered new lines of business and introduced innovative growth initiatives such as the popular Redbox DVD kiosks, money transfer, and e-payment programs. He led more than 20 acquisitions, investments and divestitures, including Coinstar’s investment in Redbox. Rowan has taught entrepreneurship and new venture strategy since 2005 and is active in the entrepreneurial community as an advisor, mentor and investor. He earned BA and MA degrees at Cornell University and an MA and MBA from Monterey Institute of International Studies.

“Since its inception in 2009, Sultan Ventures has emerged as a major force in Startup Paradise,” noted Susan Yamada, executive director of the Pacific Asia Center for Entrepreneurship at the Shidler School of Business at University of Hawaii and Board Member of XLR8UH. “The expanded team will benefit Hawaii’s entrepreneurs and help to further establish Hawaii as a place to grow ideas and business.”

About Sultan Ventures

A boutique venture firm focusing on early-stage startups and investments, Sultan Ventures (SV) provides pivotal resources via a powerful network of experts and investors, hands-on expertise and access to capital. SV founded and currently manages XLR8UH, one of the first state university investment programs of its kind – an accelerator initiative focusing on proof of concept and commercialization. For more information please visit:


  1. […] year’s event had marked the re-launch of the HVCA, with new president Meli James (who joined Sultan Ventures in March) and new board member Chenoa Farnsworth (of Hawaii Angels and Blue Startups). But a lot […]

Leave a Reply