Alumni News

The Future of Farming in Hawaii

Co-founder and CEO of Smart Yields, Vincent Kimura, was recently featured in a Hawaii Business Magazine article entitled “The Future of Farming in Hawaii”, which covers how technological innovations is helping to grow Hawaii’s agricultural industry.  The Cohort #6 alumnus talks about how the Smart Yields mobile and desktop application monitoring capabilities can better assist farmers in making decisions through data analysis.

Read the Hawaii Business Magazine article here.

Selly Automotive aims to change how you buy a car

Car shoppers are increasingly making purchase decisions using the Web, mobile devices and apps, leading a few Silicon Valley start-ups to think the U.S. retail auto market may soon have a new home.

“I’d go as far to say that Silicon Valley is becoming the new Detroit for the automotive industry,” said Zach Klempf, CEO of Selly Automotive, a firm that sells software that car dealerships use to manage their inventory and organize client information.

Klempf said that in addition to Tesla, Google and Apple changing the face of the cars themselves, start-ups like Beepi, Shift and Carvana are hoping to to provide a car shopping experience that’s better than in person at a dealership.

Investors have poured millions into start-ups facilitating car sales. For instance Beepi, which promises shoppers the best price on cars it meticulously inspects and then delivers, has received $148.95 million in funding from investors including Redpoint Ventures, Foundation Capital, Sherpa Ventures and China’s SAIC Motor. Carvana, which lets shoppers buy online and test out a car for seven days, has raised $300 million in funds.

And consumer trends appear to validate those investments in start-ups.

“We live in an increasingly mobile society. People are pressed for time and want an alternative to having to spend their Saturdays going from dealer to dealer,” Beepi spokeswoman Lisa Broock said in an email to CNBC.

About 46 percent of car shoppers used smartphones and 31 percent used tablets to research and shop for a car, according to research by Cox Automotive, which published its 2016 Car Buyer Journey report earlier this month.

The three most frequently visited car-shopping research sites have remained the same since 2012, according to a September report from J.D. Power: Consumer Reports,, and Kelley Blue Book.

And General Motors itself has acknowledged the online car-shopping trend. Earlier this month it debuted its Factory Pre-Owned Collection, a service that allows shoppers access to GM’s collection of used vehicles that have been retired from company fleets or are off-lease.

Using the service, a shopper can go online, pick out a car, apply for financing, select a dealership to work with to purchase the car, arrange payments and have their car delivered to their door.

The process can allow consumers to avoid going to a dealership entirely, although less than 1 percent of buyers have bought and received their used vehicles without having seen them in person beforehand, according to GM spokeswoman Ryndee Carney.

But the Web and apps won’t quite replace the dealership car-buying experience just yet. People are seeking out dealers who offer technical expertise beyond a sales-closing agenda, according to a 2015 online survey by Capgemini. That firm surveyed 7,553 consumers who planned to buy or lease a vehicle in the next 12 months.

“I see it increasing but never surpassing the traditional dealership model, especially with new cars,” Selly’s Klempf said in an interview with CNBC. “The OEMs — the manufacturers — they’re very strict on the traditional dealership model and there are a lot of lobbyists, a lot of money into that part of the business, so I don’t see it being replaced. I see it being innovated.”

Among shoppers for new vehicles, a majority make their initial contact by walking into a dealership, about one-fourth do so online, according to Arianne Walker, senior director of automotive media and marketing at J.D. Power.


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Ujoin, wants to connect you with Legislators

Ujoin allows individuals, nonprofits, and businesses to track bills and connect with local lawmakers. The company graduated from Henk Rogers‘ Blue Startups accelerator program in June.

The desktop application’s target audience includes small to mid-sized nonprofits and businesses that operate on $500,000 a year or less, Co-Founder Kory Payne told PBN

“We know it’s an unreserved portion of the market,” he said. “There are other solutions in the marketplace that cost a lot of money, are difficult to use and require staff time. Ujoin is designed to be [a] self-service [app] and affordable.”

Ujoin allows users to send video messages to legislators, track bills through a dashboard that sends text messages when a bill changes, and send professional email newsletters.

Other services ask for roughly $10,000 to $50,000 a year, Payne says. Ujoin starts at $144 a year, or $12 a month.

Payne was inspired seven years ago while working at Voter Owned Hawaii. The nonprofit was using a similar product but were eventually priced out as it became more expensive.

“They were charging $25,000 a year, and up, just to use it, which we couldn’t afford,” he said. “The product was too difficult to use, anyway. I set out to design something better and easier that served smaller organizations like the one I was running.”

The product went live in March and has already picked up 15 clients in Hawaii, gearing up for the legislative session starting in January.

Ujoin has picked up customers in Florida, Nevada, and California, including electric vehicle charging station company Volta Industries. Payne hopes to pick up clients across the nation and eventually, abroad. Ujoin is already in talks with an organization based in the United Kingdom.

Ujoin is mobile-friendly and the company plans to add features including a group text message function and an online fundraising dashboard.


Volta wants to power your electric car with ads — and it just raised $7.5M

Got email marketing? We’ve got best practices from LivingSocial and estate sale guru Everything But The House in our next Insight webinar.
Volta, a startup that has over 100 free electric car charging stations in five cities, announced today that it raised $4.5 million in a series A round led by Three Bridges Ventures, and $3 million in financing from SQN Capital. In total, the Honolulu-founded company has raised $12.5 million.

Volta said that the funding will be used to open 400 new charging stations in other major cities.

The startup has set up the free charging stations in front of popular retailers like Macy’s and Whole Foods — at no cost to the hosts. Volta says its charging stations serve advertising companies, which are “seeing a fairly substantial brand lift and thus are maintaining relationships with Volta past their initial ad spend.”

Tesla’s Supercharger network offers free charging services, but only for Tesla drivers. ChargePoint also plays in the electric car charging sector; however, Volta claims to be unique because its service is free for both the landowner and the user.

“We face competitors selling emerging media advertising to sustainably minded brands. Where Volta really stands out is offering brands the opportunity to do more than a simply put their name on something that delivers a ‘green’ message,” the company told VentureBeat. “Volta advertisers are providing a real service to communities by powering drivers to a more sustainable future.”

Riverwood Capital, 500 Startups, and Epic Ventures also participated in the round.

Hawaii meeting software firm LiveSift rebrands, gets $800k in seed funding

Jason Ubay
Pacific Business News

Hawaii startup LiveSift, whose software can be used to poll attendees and curate questions for events and business meetings, has received $800,000 in seed funding and will change its name to MeetingSift.
The software has been used at public events to poll audiences instead of the usual show of hands, but the company’s corporate mission and strategy is focused on business meetings.

Meeting facilitators, such as department managers, can organize, plan and execute a meeting using the software. Meeting participants, using their own devices, can use the software to provide anonymous feedback. The results can be pulled quickly and lead to quicker follow-ups after meetings.
The company recently released its pro edition and launch of the business edition of its software as a service product.
“The platform supports and enhances most meeting types including creative meetings, problem solving and strategic decision making,” Alex Bergo, CEO of MeetingSift, said in a statement.
The software has been used by companies such as American Savings Bank, Central Pacific Bank, ProService Hawaii, Elucity Networks, Kaiser Permanente and more.
The seed funding will be used to invest in sales, marketing and support resources for the company, according to a release.
The company was part of the second cohort of Hawaii-based venture accelerator Blue Startups’ program, and also in the first cohort of XLR8UH, the University of Hawaii’s proof-of-concept center.

Selly Automotive Launches Innovative CRM Dealership Sales Platform

A1 Software Group Inc. is excited to announce the launch of Selly Automotive—a mobile-centric, social savvy, lightweight sales platform at the Digital Dealer Conference in Tampa on April 21, 2015. Delivering on its mission to save dealerships time and money while accelerating deal closures, Selly Automotive brings a mobile first, sleek and intuitive CRM interface to the market via a state of the art delivery SaaS platform with patent-pending technology.

“There is a real need for simplification in dealership CRM technology. Digital consumers have already changed the car buying process, now it’s time a vendor steps in and modernizes dealership CRM software” said Zach Klempf, CEO. Selly Automotive is specifically designed for small to medium sized dealerships ranging from independents to franchise stores that need a full sales suite with integrated CRM, internet lead management, email marketing, task management, and inventory management capabilities. Selly Automotive also provides integration with top DMS providers and services like Carfax, Autocheck, Edmunds, and Dealer Vault.

With Nielson reporting in 2014 that over 85% of Americans aged 18–34 owned a smart phone, CEO Zach Klempf believes that “every car sales professional must have an Android or iOS mobile device to effectively interface with Gen Y and Millennial consumers and meet them on their digital turf.” Selly Automotive delivers that connectivity and enhances “on-the-lot” productivity by arming the automotive sales professional with its mobile client—Selly for the Dealership Mobile.

Available as a core part of the Selly Automotive Dealership suite, Selly for the Dealership Mobile streamlines the data entry process with its in-app driver’s license and VIN scanning features. It also offers an industry leading, patent-pending Selly Notes Pop Up feature which automatically screen pops relevant prospect information based on specific sales cycle stage when an inbound contact is made by a previously entered customer.

Delivering real time, mission critical prospect information, Selly for the Dealership Mobile is “always on” as it is accessible through the cloud or offline from the mobile device when no Wi-Fi or cellular signal is available. Selly Automotive is localized in 11 different languages to cater to bilingual sales associates and dealerships.

If your dealership is operating an overbearing CRM system or your salesforce is tied to their showroom computers, we invite you to consider switching to Selly Automotive. For more information about Selly Automotive for the Dealership visit or stop by Booth #900 at the Digital Dealer Conference in Tampa, Florida, on April 21–23.

Milwaukee Bucks Sign with Vantage Sports for Data Analytics Help

Milwaukee Bucks

Camera-based tracking technology from Synergy and SportVU has done an amazing job for the NBA and its teams in recording essential information with in depth play-by-play statistics. With those statistics, coaches, and fans can see a player’s effectiveness on the court, whether it be a breakdown of speed, the distance a player runs, or ball possession information.

The Milwaukee Bucks have taken a step further in data analytics by signing with Vantage Sports Inc. and their next-generation analytics and video platform in evaluating player performance.

Vantage Sports is a provider of advanced data and video analytics that uses state of the art data–gathering engines that produce an in-depth look at a players’ performance.

But how will signing with Vantage Sports benefit the Bucks?

Well, consider that Vantage Sports was able to analyze the defensive capabilities of NBA player Steve Novak in ways that other data companies could not. Vantage Sports found that Novak had the worst Double-Team Effectiveness and Help Effectiveness Rate percentage on the New York Knicks a year ago, but also found that he had an average percentage for Field Goals Against and a little better than average in Keep in Front percentage.

This means that the Bucks will be able to keep track of a player’s defensive capabilities beyond the typical stats, like steals and blocks per game; and by using Vantage Sports analysis, they will be able to analyze their players effectiveness in ways that differ from the norm.

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