A look at the goals and achievements that brought us here
Our Visions & Achievements
Like most successful endeavors, XLR8HI wasn’t an inevitability.
Rather, this community is the outgrowth of a series of efforts dating back to the start of this century. Omar Sultan and Tarik Sultan have long been attuned to the challenges Hawai’i innovators and entrepreneurs face; they began identifying and filling gaps in this sector starting in the 2000s.
Together with colleague Kate Matayoshi, the Sultan brothers constantly scan the economic landscape for opportunities to enable small businesses and empower talented individuals seeking ways to manifest their skillsets locally rather than move to the Mainland.
This timeline reflects our past successes. We invite you to subscribe to our newsletter to be among the first to know what’s next.
The event included crowdfunding workshops, a “Startup Paradise” panel discussion, lunch with keynote speaker Don Dodge of Google Ventures Advisor, financing case studies, and pitches by companies participating in the Elemental Excelerator (then Energy Excelerator) and Blue Startups programs.
XLR8UH was created to serve as that bridge and resource. It grounded the investment-ready work of researchers, students and alumni in a solid business foundation, thus turning these technologies and ideas into "real businesses.”
It was Hawai’i’s first proof-of-concept commercialization center.
Both Omar Sultan and Tarik Sultan were named 2014 Hawai’i Venture Capital Association’s (HVCA) Investors of the Year.
Additionally, the Small Business Association (SBA) Growth Accelerator Fund Competition recognized XLR8UH as one of the nation's top accelerators in 2015.
“This national recognition of our accelerator program by SBA, at just over a year old, confirms our belief in the abundance of opportunities that exist at the University of Hawaiʻi in all disciplines, particularly those that emphasize Hawaiʻi’s strengths in energy, astronomy, marine and life sciences,” said Omar Sultan.
“It is a huge honor for us to be among the 2016 top accelerators. Winning a second time in a row speaks to the strength of Startup Paradise and the commitment to Hawaiʻi’s entrepreneurs,” said Tarik Sultan.
“There is a great camaraderie in Hawaiʻi among the entrepreneurial community and what we’re all working to achieve. The $200,000 coming into our state from SBA will support the continued growth of our startup community and accelerators holistically,” Tarik Sultan adds.
“It’s an honor to be recognized alongside other pioneering accelerator programs, most of which are located in traditional startup hotspots,” said Omar Sultan. “Being named a top 30 accelerator in the country—which puts us in the same company as the well-known programs of Y Combinator, Techstars, 500 Startups and Mucker Lab—is a reflection of the caliber of the University of Hawaiʻi’s talent and innovation.”
Click here to read the joke Omar told when the duo accepted the award. https://www.hawaiibusiness.com/small-business-awards-2019/2/?fbclid=IwAR1_vkBo1HuWkNFxbZcQz8GtKFT_Iq5MEjzIG5fUKS6_nlMaWn8db-O0y4k#state-innovation)
In June, 2019 Tarik Sultan was recognized by Pacific Business News as one of the Top Forty Under 40 Extraordinary Business Leaders in Hawai’i.
Get Money: Seeing so many startups struggle to connect to the capital necessary to propel their business forward, XLR8HI launched a series of workshops to help demystify the funding process. Interactive workshops on angel investors, crowdfunding, bank loans, grants and more were discussed in this popular series starting in the middle of 2019.
Seeking to cultivate a community of entrepreneurs to last generations, the XLR8HI team decided to invest in Hawai’i’s youth and the future of innovation. It launched the XLR8Youth program in Summer 2019. The camp gave kids four weeks to build up their big ideas and collaborate with other wild young thinkers.
XLR8HI also hosted the McDonald’s Education Workshop to give college-bound students and their parents an insight into future high-value skillsets, STEM curricula, and opportunities toward work in innovative careers.
Realizing that Hawai’i entrepreneurs needed their knowledge and industry insight to achieve their X - whatever it may be - Omar and Tarik launched PreX. The free, 4-week virtual course gives local business owners feedback on their business model, helps them learn to pitch and plan for the near future. They launched this program together with Hawai’i Technology Development Coordination with backing from Sultan Ventures.
For so many years, the Sultan brothers saw Hawai’i startup owners forced to travel thousands of miles to the West Coast for the chance to pitch their business and get access to funding. Not ideal. So they applied to the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Capital Challenge… And won!
Winning the EDA grant allowed them to launch the XLR8 Seed Fund. It is Hawai’i’s only seed fund, with a focus on early-stage companies. XLR8HI is massively committed to seeing small businesses establish themselves at home, diversifying the local economy.