New Resources Launching to Help Businesses and Developers Thrive on Messenger


Posted by Facebook on June 29, 2017

At Messenger, our business partners and developers are always top of mind for us because they build and offer the experiences that the 1.2 billion people that use Messenger every month have come to love and depend on. It was with them in mind that we’re excited to announce some new tools for these valued partners to help them create the absolute best experiences possible for Messenger. Today we’re launching platform feature recommendations and a directory of platform development providers.

Platform feature recommendations is a focused checklist for sharing clear and actionable feedback to our developers. This new resource will show which platform tools a bot is currently using and then suggest additional tools and features based on best practices we’ve observed in our ecosystem. Once a certain number of people use a bot, we’ll email a list of recommendations:

  • Core features— crucial for onboarding and setting expectations for an experience
  • Add-on features— tools that can expand the capability of a bot

We hope that this kind of focused feedback will help our developer community build the most engaging and useful experiences on Messenger. For more on platform feature recommendations : Introducing Messenger Platform Feature Recommendations for your bot.

The directory of platform development providers is a resource for businesses to find providers that specialize in building experiences on Messenger. These providers offer services and solutions from one on one messaging to automation at scale. With this directory, businesses can connect with providers across the globe and work together to drive successful business outcomes on Messenger. We will continue to evolve the directory with new capabilities & providers as they emerge on the Messenger Platform. All providers listed have experience managing conversations between people and businesses that comply with Messenger Platform policies.

Businesses can find the following providers in the directory here.

We hope these two new resources will help our business partners and our developer community continue to build one-of-a-kind experiences on Messenger. We continue to be amazed by the variety and usefulness of the 100,000 bots and counting on the Messenger platform, and we never get tired of seeing new experiences launching every day.

Let us know what you think of these new tools and keep building!

Selly integrates CRM with AutoManager DMS

Selly Automotive


Selly Automotive’s customer relationship management platform has been combined with dealer management systems software from Los Angeles-based DMS provider AutoManager, Selly announced on Tuesday.

“For the past eight months, we have worked very closely with AutoManager to be thoughtful about the independent market and create an integration that will eliminate the need of double entry,” Selly Automotive founder and chief executive officer Zach Klempf said in a news release. “This integration reinforces our commitment to providing integrated solutions for independent and buy here, pay here dealerships.”

 Selly Automotive said the integration of AutoManager’s DMS, DeskManager, allows sales data to be exchanged on a bi-directional basis.

The integration also aims to eliminate redundancies, as well as increase dealership efficiency, according to Klempf.

 “We’re excited to team up with Selly Automotive for CRM in effort to offer a fully-integrated DMS system to our customers,” AutoManager president and chief executive officer Kami Tafreshi added.

“Now we’re able to offer a complete suite of products to our dealers with the most competitive pricing in the industry.”

For more details, dealers can contact Automanager directly by visiting or calling (800) 300-2808.

Talk Story with Michelle Rundbaken and Yacine Merzouk


By Alden Alayvilla, The Garden Isle
Posted on June 11, 2017

Travel-planning technology startup is the first Kauai business accepted into venture acceleration program

Not every day does a business from Kauai get accepted into a company that invests in startups and offers mentorship programs from some of the top business people in the world.

In fact, only one Kauai startup is part of the Blue Startups program, and they’re taking full advantage.

The husband and wife duo of Yacine Merzouk and Michelle Rundbaken of Wailua are taking travel planning to a new level with Tripidee, an all-in-one website and app to research locations for your trip, organize each day and crowd source information from travelers to streamline your holiday.

Tripidee is the first startup from Kauai to be accepted into the investment and mentorship-driven program that targets companies in the technology sector.

Merzouk and Rundbaken are among seven startups accepted into the ninth cohort program. There were over 200 applications. About halfway through the 14-week program, Merzouk and Rundbaken will pitch their startup to investors in San Francisco.

Why was this started?

Michelle Rundbaken: We created this because we’re from Kauai. I was teaching and you get one to two vacations a year. It’s big. You get to get off of Kauai. We found that we were gathering ideas of what to do, but it was everywhere: It was on Pinterest, Google, it was on our email from friends and we were wasting so much time on the trip trying to organize. We realized that there was no tool out there to help put all those ideas into one place on a map. If you’re going to a location you’ve never been, you can really visualize it and make the most out of your vacation time.

What was it like in the beginning?

Yacine Merzouk: In December 2015, it was for a California road trip. We literally put up a website that no one knew about and we made a mobile map that no one knew about and we used it for ourselves.

Where in California did you go?

YM: That was one central coast. We hit all the vineyards.

MR: We went from San Francisco all the way to Los Angeles. We were putting in things we wanted to do all along the way and figuring out the best route, seeing everything on a map.

Was the first iteration of what you created similar to what you have today?

MR: Similar and different, and it’s going to change a lot still. We’ve been taking it really slow. It has a lot of features now.

YM: The core of it is the same: Easily gather all of your information about a trip and because you don’t know necessarily much about the place you’re going to, it has to grab the location and put it on a map and make it easy visually to know where you’re going. That’s the same: gathering and seeing where you are and where you’re going. We added a lot of features to that to make it easier to get started, get better directions once you’re on the road, get business hours and things like that.

MR: We had a sharing feature to collaborate, but we just added a feature to crowd source from friends, and it’s like magic. Even though I grew up here, I don’t know Oahu. On Facebook, I sent out an invitation to give me Oahu off the beaten track. It was so cool because all of a sudden my whole account was populated with all these ideas from my friends who visited and now they’re all a map, all ready to try out.

How much easier was it to streamline your vacation?

MR: A lot because everything’s on a map and there’s a companion app. You’re no longer on your email, on Pinterest, looking for addresses, names. It’s just all right there.

YM: Sometimes in the morning of a trip, especially if it’s a road trip, we would spend an hour trying to figure out the best route and not forgetting anything that’s on the way. Somehow it’s a few minutes.

MR: The biggest thing about this is it will not plan the trip for you. This is for people who want to gather their own ideas. We have a universal browser button, so if you’re searching for a place and you find something you really want to do, you just click the button and it puts it into your trip.

YM: You can do your research on Google, Tripadvisor or Yelp or enter things yourself. Anywhere you’re on the web, it’s one click and it saves it to your account.

MR: What makes us different is we allow you to add any address from anywhere — even GPS. If you’re a hiker, you can put in GPS and get locations.

When were you accepted into the cohort?

YM: The program started the third week of April.

What kind of training have you received?

YM: A lot. Every week we meet with multiple mentors: business people, government people from Hawaii and the Mainland and we meet with the program directors every week. Some of the mentor meetings are workshops. Some of them are one-on-one where we get to discuss whatever we want. Sometimes the experts have their expertise and they guide us through parts of the business development process. The program director every week gives us milestones of what they would like to see over the next seven days.

MR: The quality and quantity of mentors they have is amazing. We’ve seen mentors from Asia and the continental U.S., flying in just to help us out. It’s so nice that they’re so invested in the Blue Startup program and they give their time. There’s no strings attached.

How has the mentorship helped your company so far?

MR: The mentors have all succeeded in one way or another. Either they started or launched a couple startups or they worked for big companies. They help us see different sides of our business we can’t see. They ask questions we might not know the answers to that we realized, “Oh, we need to understand this better.”

What have been the best lessons so far?

YM: Ask. A lot of people are willing to help, so get in touch with people, staying in touch with people. If you need something, let them know. If somebody needs something, help them out.

MR: For me it’s just research, research, research. Do your market research. Treat running a business like science: isolate variables, do A/B testing and don’t stop. Keep fine-tuning what works and why and keep fine-tuning more.

How do you monetize your business?

MR: We’re not monetizing yet. This has changed lot since we entered it into Blue Startups. We’ve just been a year and a half in beta and slowly collecting users. When we first started, we thought we’d monetize with affiliate links — just make money off people using Tripidee, really giving them suggestions to help them on their trip. We were quickly told that is not a way to make money. That’s just little drops in a big bucket.

Now what we’re doing is moving toward creating a tool for travel agents. A lot of people think travel agents are a dying breed, but actually the millennials are coming back to it. They don’t currently have great tools to help millennials plan. Millennials need freedom. They don’t want packaged deals. They want things on their phone, on their computer. They don’t want paper.

YM: One interesting thing we found out when we were doing tests and trying to discover what our travelers wanted, we created this feature where they can ask for suggestions. They can ask their friends or they can ask to get in touch with their travel agent. Our tools are all about being in control. You can save things from everywhere, but even so, about half of the people want suggestions.

How many people have downloaded your app?

YM: We have 2,500 users on the website. The app is around 500 right now.

MR: We’re still taking it slow. Blue Startups gave us $25,000. It’s huge, but it’s not the biggest part. The mentors are bigger. They gave us all this money and we’re not pouring it into advertising. We’re using it slowly for research and development. Because you can blow that money so fast and what do you have to show? A product that may not be perfect yet.

How much longer is the cohort?

MR: It’s a month and a half more. We’re halfway through and at the end we’re going to be going to San Francisco to pitch to investors.

YM: It’s coming fast.

MR: We’ve run small businesses before, but it’s a whole different ballgame.

What are the features you’re working on?

YM: We’re developing the agent dashboard. We’re taking all the features about travel planning and adding things and getting suggestions from friends and we’re creating a dashboard for industry professionals, travel designers, custom-trip-experience designers to be able to participate in that process. They’ll be able to see what their customers are adding or saving or would like to do. And tools to communicate: live chat, instant messages. We’re hoping to turn that into a subscription service so travel professionals have a suite of tools they can use to communicate with customers.

What are you looking forward to in San Francisco?

YM: For me, I think it’s going to be interesting to get feedback from a finished, polished presentation. We take what we have. We worked on it for three months full-time and then some. We’re going to get real feedback from real investors and other companies in our industry and it’s going to be real interesting to see what opportunities come out of that.

MR: There’s still more ways to monetize. The travel agent market is relatively small. There’s about 70,000 full-time travel agents in the U.S. There’s only so much we can scale that business. We’re still exploring more ways. As we talk to investors and professionals, we’re going to get to hear more ideas. Realistically, we don’t expect to get investors right now. We still have a lot of growth, but the ideas are really important.

Do you have a goal in the next five years?

YM: Five years is probably way further than we’re looking, but in the next couple of weeks, we’d like to get a dozen or so travel professionals beta testing our service. That’s step one.

MR: Within the next six months, we want to get about 200 travel professionals on board. As far as users, we don’t have user numbers. But ideally for Tripidee, it will be one of the go-to trip planning sites. It becomes more powerful when more people are on there.

How often do you work on this startup?

MR: Now it’s every single day.

YM: Before the program, it was every three months or so we would do a mini sprint. We would free up some time and work on it for a couple weeks. Real life would get in the way. Now that we have this program, we’ve been working on it 60-70 hours a week.

MR: Per person. And we’re reaching out and doing market research. Some of the people we’re talking to are not even in America. Our lesson is you have to work really hard. You just have to keep pushing. You know when you’re from Kauai there’s a humbleness and not tooting your horn and not really asking for help sometimes. You need to get past that. That’s hard. You have to put yourself out there and just ask and keep asking. It’s a huge lesson.

Anything you would like to add?

YM: Blue Startups invests in the company, so they take 6 percent of the company. It’s not giving. The great thing about that is our goals and their goals are aligned. If we succeed, they succeed. If we don’t. They don’t. That’s a great part of the program.

Smart Yields in first round of Vatican’s inaugural accelerator program

The Smart Yields team, from left, Isar Mostafanezhad, Vincent Kimura, Justin Hedani and Michael Rogers. Credit Tina Yuen PBN.

The Smart Yields team, from left, Isar Mostafanezhad, Vincent Kimura, Justin Hedani and Michael Rogers.
Credit Tina Yuen PBN.

By Anna Hrushka, Pacific Business News
Posted on June 8, 2017

Honolulu-based Smart Yields has made the first round of the Vatican’s inaugural accelerator program, called the Laudato Si’ Challenge.

The ag-tech company was selected to participate in the first part of the two-part program, called the Fellowship. Companies participating in the first round are paired with a mentor to speak with weekly.

A set of companies from the Fellowship will then be selected to receive funding and go to Rome for the full accelerator.

According to the program’s website, companies selected for the accelerator in Rome will receive mentorship and equity funding over a two-month period.

“Companies will provide participating startups expert advice and support on their business strategy, communications and marketing strategy,” the accelerator’s website said, adding top companies from Silicon Valley will support the startups.

“Companies receive mentorship from tech-centric professors, entrepreneurs and investors to set and reach milestones,” the website continues. “Experts in community leadership, business and environmental stewardship evaluate all of the applicants and select 12 startups which are the most transformative, impactful, scalable, sustainable, feasible and profitable.”

The 12 startups selected for the program will head to Rome to participate in the accelerator from July 13 to September 9.

Australia Government Program HOTDESQ Awarded KallFly with Funding from Queensland Government through Advance Queensland initiative


By Karol Rutkowski
Posted on June 6, 2017

The Australian government has awarded Kallfly with funding from Queensland government through the HOTDESQ program to enable Kallfly continue to boost Queensland ecosystem and broaden its global connection.

 Kallfly was chosen to participate in Cohort 9 of Blue Startups, a Top 20 Accelerator in the US (Techcrunch) focused on helping scalable-technology companies including web, software and mobile compete on a global scale. A company that is becoming a nexus of entrepreneurial activity in Hawaii, and between Asia and North America.

Honored to receive Award from International Award Winning Company, given a Social Innovation Award for great jobs in “Rural Area” advocacy, which aims to provide more job to single parents in the rural areas in the Philippines.

It was also part of top companies selected from thousands of companies for the JFDI. Asia acceleration program, JFDI partner with Singapore government to Award Kallfly and other companies investments extensive trainings and networking with founders and CEOs of top companies in Asia.

Kallfly is an Awardee in the regional event in Tokyo, Japan and was part of the most promising East Asia startups to share our vision on a global stage.

About KallFly

Kallfly is an On Demand Virtual Contact Center which provides experienced call agents for Customer Support, Customer Survey, Telemarketing, Virtual Assistants, Appointment Setting and Lead Generation for both small and medium businesses.With a proven track-record of facilitating thousands of hours of work from our call agents, and more than 3 million phone calls, plus flexible terms such as month-to-month, quarterly and bi-yearly engagement model, Kallfly has established itself as the best option for companies seeking reliable and affordable live agent support for new or existing campaigns, whether seasonal or long term.

Contact KallFly

Address:   2711 Centreville Road, suite 400, Wilmington, DE 19808
Telephone  (US): 808.233.9206

Address2: 17th floor, harbor court, 55 merchant street, Honolulu
Telephone:  (AU): 1300.269.815

For more information Visit Our website:

Media Contact
Company Name: Kallfly
Contact Person: Vince Loremia
Phone: (808) 233 9206, (1300) 269 815
Address:2711 Centerville Road, Suite 400
City: Wilmington 19808
State: Delaware
Country: United States

T.E.C.H. – Blue Startups Demo Day






Fri, July 7, 2017
3:00 PM – 7:00 PM HST


Sullivan Conference Center, UH Cancer Center
651 Ilalo Street
Honolulu, HI 96813


T.E.C.H. – Technology, Entertainment, Community, Hawaii

Join us as we showcase all of these aspects of our startup ecosystem starting with a keynote by Guy Kawasaki, followed Blue Startups cohort #9 demo day where they will be pitching to a panel of corporate “sharks.”

Reception to follow with local entertainment, pupus and drinks.

There will also be a tech fair in the courtyard – secure your booth today!


Guy Kawasaki – Chief Evangelist, Canva

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. He is a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz and an executive fellow of the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley). He was the chief evangelist of Apple and a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation. He is also the author of The Art of the Start 2.0, The Art of Social Media, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.