This month, PRSA Hawaii will dive into a growing and exciting sector in Hawaii's economy - startups and entrepreneurship. The startup movement is stronger than ever in Hawaii, with the state ranking in the upper third of states for entrepreneurship, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. Join us for a panel event that will address the role of communications in this growing industry. Our panelists include Meli James of Sultan Ventures, Tommy Pierucki of Uber Hawaii and Piia Aarma of Pineapple Tweed Public Relations and Marketing.
Melialani James, Sultan Ventures
Meli James is the president of the Hawaii Venture Capitalist Association (HVCA) and head of new ventures at Sultan Ventures, a boutique venture firm focused on early-stage startups and investments. Meli is a serial entrepreneur with leading experience in mobile apps, web-based products and community building. Born and raised in Honolulu, Meli lived in Silicon Valley for over 10 years, where she co-founded and contributed to numerous start-ups in the Bay Area and Honolulu, including Nirvino – #1 ranked wine app, an Apple Platform Top 100 App, & Top Ten Lifestyles App. In addition, she is the founder of HonNewTech (a quarterly startup pitch event) and a graduate and Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) at Cornell University.
Tommy Pierucki, Uber Hawaii
Tommy is the first employee of Uber in Hawaii and was part of the launch in August of 2013. He's seen the company grow globally from 300 employees to over 3,000. His role as a marketing manager includes signing up new riders and drivers to the platform. When his laptop is put down, he can be found with his wife of six years and their three dogs (Brutus, Peanut, and Mali) or surfing the waves of the south shore.
Piia Aarma, Pineapple Tweed Public Relations and Marketing
Piia Aarma is the founder and president of Pineapple Tweed Public Relations and Marketing. She has been involved in communications for more than 25 years. Her experience includes corporate communications, marketing, website development, national-level lobbying and PR, newspaper reporting and editing, magazine writing and digital communications. A committed community member, Aarma serves on numerous nonprofit boards and is deeply involved in the entrepreneurial community. She is a mentor at two accelerators, Blue Startups and HiBEAM, where she is also a board member; a Professional in Residence for the Pacific Asia Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) at University of Hawaii and a member of its advisory board, as well as the advisory board of the Entrepreneurs Foundation. Pineapple Tweed's current and past startup/entrepreneurial clients include Sultan Ventures, Cellana, Hawaii Biotech, Hoku Scientific and Green Car Hawaii.
A special mahalo to Fresh Cafe, our venue sponsor for this month's event!