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Founder Stories: Lua Acts as Safe Haven for Critical, Internal Communication

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Michael DeFranco, CEO Lua


Written by: Michael DeFranco, CEO and Founder of Lua.



Lua was born from the realization and appreciation for the fact that time is our most valuable asset. Once wasted, it can never be regained, and lost time can often mean disaster.

In 2005, in the time surrounding the Hurricane Katrina crisis, I was working at iMapData, a main source of data and insights for the government. We looked at everything from traditional maps to the path of the storm to oil rig locations, and used that information to make recommendations to first responders and volunteers in the area. There was clear criticality to this work, however, the methods of disseminating information was slow in comparison to the urgency of the event. I realized during that time that, if I could use mobile technology to create a sanctuary for urgent communication and mass notifications, there would be a huge impact on first responders’ ability to react to disasters and for government agencies to rapidly affect change when they’re needed most.


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That was the idea that spurred the initial iterations of Lua beginning in 2010 while I was still an undergrad at Wesleyan University. I co-created Lua with my then-classmates, now fellow executives, Jason Krigsfeld and Eli Bronner, while we were all working on the set of Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder. The cast and crew had trouble with scheduling and communicating, so we mocked up what would end up being the initial version of the Lua platform – a simple internal messaging system, with no bells or whistles, just mass targeted text notifications sent via the web. We found that, while the initial seed idea was intended for emergency workers, any type of team that relied on efficient sharing of information and coordination would benefit from the product – production teams, sales, event management, client relations and delivery professionals alike all became enthusiastic early clients. Two years of development later, we were selected to join the 2012 TechStars NYC class, and were 1 of 13 companies to be chosen from over 1,500 applicants. After three intense months, we graduated and proudly announced our first official client pilots in 2013 starting with the Barclays Center in the Brooklyn, NY, an arena where the Brooklyn Nets play.


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Since Lua’s inception we thought deeply about an integral part of the solution that we call Insights, our analytics platform. Internal communication is incredibly important for collaboration, productivity and team sanity, but we also wanted to provide a way for managers to learn from their company’s communication patterns. We wanted to help facilitate a general improvement in organization in ways that would transcend the Lua platform and deliver even greater return on investment. By showing management, in real time, which employees and departments are working best together, more realistic and efficient workflows can be put in place, and destructive (and expensive) bureaucracy can be avoided.

Today, as we’re growing our customer base and depth of use dramatically, I think often about our roots. The name of our company comes from Hawaiian history: two thousand years ago, the kings and chiefs of the islands began to train their forces in a form of martial art they called Lua. They worked in the dead of night, training in the dark so their armies could fight coordinated battles without needing to see each other. In battle, they moved in perfect unison, having developed a silent communication between one another. We’re bringing this ancient wisdom to modern teams, giving them the ability to coordinate and operate efficiently as one single unit, regardless of having eyes on one another.

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