Episode 12: Michael Keoni DeFranco, CEO & Founder at Lua Technologies


Michael Keoni sits down to talk about starting Lua, sales strategies, having advisors, and even the Hoku’lea

Michael came up with the idea for Lua technologies (secure, mobile-first messaging for the enterprise) in college and achieved product-market fit through initial testing on a film set!

The company has since gone on to go through Techstars NYC (Spring 2012), raise $10M in Venture Capital and boasts clients such as Hyatt Hotels, United Airlines, Spotify, the US Government and many of the top companies in the Healthcare industry.

As Founder, CEO at Lua, Michael Keoni has led the company to its industry-leading position and immense traction in the Healthcare space having achieved the stringent HIPAA compliance status.

Michael Keoni is also a contributor to both Fortune and Forbes, speaks Mandarin and Japanese, and is also a trained chanter (oli) having studied under renowned scholar, author, and kumu hula Dr. Pualani Kanaka’ole Kanahele.


Notable People and Entrepreneurs Mentioned

Strauss Zelnick

John Maloney

Andrew Weissman

Donovan Kealoha

Tim Dick

Dr. Pualani Kanaka’ole Kanahele

Gary Vaynerchuk

Nainoa Thompson

Books Mentioned

A separate Reality by Carlos Castaneda

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogya Rinpoche

Behind the Cloud by Marc Benioff

Podcasts Mentioned

Bothsides TV by Mark Suster

AVC by Fred Wilson

Companies and Programs Mentioned


Purple Mai’a

Hawaiian Culture References

Hokule’a Voyage

I Ku Mau Mau Chant


1:51 –  Keoni’s experiences and influences from living on the east coast

4:25 – What Keoni gained from meeting with leaders of the Shinnecock Tribe

7:04 – Celebrating Polynesian culture in New York City and working with the Shinnecock Indian Tribe

10:32 – Coming up with the idea behind Lua

13:26 – The necessary pivot for Lua

14:49 – How Lua continues to gain feedback on product development

17:30 – Designing an office floor plan for high productivity

20:02 – The meaning behind the name Lua

22:19 – Overcoming obstacles in the early stages of Lua

24:19 – Celebrating large and small milestones

27:14 – The importance of a board of advisors

31:21 – How Keoni shifted roles from developer to leader of a company

33:50 – How Lua uses team based selling

36:54 – The framework to providing the most value to consumers

40:58 – What’s next for Lua

43:08 – Rapid Fire Q&A: What is your favorite thing about Hawaii, what is your favorite beach or place, any favorite blogs or podcasts, recommended books, most significant career accomplishment, any inspiring individuals, final tips for entrepreneurs