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On April 21, 2021, Rolando commented on Blue River Technology: The Field of Machine Learning :

Great post, thanks Julia! Regarding data ownership, do you know to what extent farmers are able to download/use the data? I’m sure many insights could be gleaned from this type of technology, including yield, crop quality, crop disease warnings, etc. If I were a farmer I ‘d love a dashboard showing me all this data!

On April 21, 2021, Rolando commented on Drishti: AI-powered Human Production against the Machines :

Thank you Juan Carlos, very interesting read! Did you see anything related in your research related to worker pushback on being videotaped? I’m not sure about the US, but in other countries there are laws that protect workers against being taped, and have heard of unions also pushing back against this practice.

Thanks Karl! Very interesting read. I agree with Juan Carlos, there are probably other attractive use cases such as social media – my only concern is that it (as with most technologies) could be abused. I’m guessing that in the wrong hands this tool could be used for censoring purposes, for example using AI to identify anti-government speech or protest planning. Hopefully Spirit AI has this potential use case in its radar and is taking steps to avoid it.

On March 23, 2021, Rolando commented on Symrise: AI to create new perfumes :

Thanks Kanako, very interesting read! It’s an interesting parallel to the art vs science question we saw in a couple of our cases, including the futbonaut case. I don’t know much about the art of creating a fragrance, but I’d venture to say that a vast majority of the customer’s perceived value of a fragrance comes from the brand, packaging, container design, etc. While in this case AI certainly speeds up the development process of the fragrance itself, I wonder if science will continue to gain ground vs the “art” portion of the product by eventually suggesting fragrance names, color schemes, designs, etc.

Very interesting read Giulia! It will be interesting to see if Tala can expand the types of credit products it offers beyond B2C and cater to segments such as SMEs, which are very underserved in many developing countries and can provide an important boost to their economies. Will also be interesting to see how the company scales, as having the loans on your books can make this difficult. I like Karl’s idea to develop a standalone service/functionality. I would also recommend you check out Afluenta, which has scaled by creating a marketplace that connects lenders and personal/SME borrowers in Latin America:

On March 23, 2021, Rolando commented on Eaze: Leveraging Data Analytics in the Cannabis Industry :

Thanks Karl! Very interesting read. Regarding the challenges of working with banks, I read that the ex-CEO recently plead guilty to a $100 MM cannabis payment scheme, where he and other co-conspirators “created phony online merchants that sold carbonated drinks, green tea, face creams and other products to disguise marijuana payments between 2016 and 2019, therefore circumventing cannabis banking restrictions.” While it doesn’t excuse breaking the law, it certainly must be very frustrating to have such a great idea while in regulatory limbo! As Juan Carlos mentioned in his comment, hopefully the data insights being generated by the company can help with lobbying to ease regulations, so that legitimate companies can operate properly (as opposed to the black market alternative).

Thanks Tiffany, very interesting read. Would love to know your opinion on focusing on women vs opening to the male segment as well. At first glance it seems like a no-brainer – in theory you basically double your user base if you effectively cater to men. However, maybe the brand has done so well (and can command higher prices) precisely because of its female focus. Definitely a tough decision to make, very interested to know which direction they will decide to take.

Thanks Juan Carlos, very interesting read. This looks like a very attractive opportunity for Pampers: I this app provides a launch pad from which they can easily add on other value-add features. I found a very interesting article which talked about how the brand launched an IoT product called Lumi (see link below). It’s basically a sensor that attaches to diapers and alerts parents when their baby needs a change. Apparently the “baby tech” space is booming, with sensors not only on diapers but on feeding bottles, pacifiers, and bassinets too. The possibilities to create a one stop shop for digital baby care solutions seem endless!

On March 2, 2021, Rolando commented on When Athletes meet Coaches and Coaches meet Athletes :

Thanks Tim, very interesting read. An idea that came to mind was to offer B2B services to corporate/offices – this could maybe help with disintermediation and making the platform stickier. A SaaS product to manage bookings, schedules, employee usage etc could also help to entice corporate clients. I agree that Coach Up doesn’t have much of a solution against disintermediation other than adding more value to the platform – I wonder if they could further increase community engagement and create rivalry among users (like Peloton does) through challenges, leaderboards etc (which of course would only be available if they have a verified training session with a CoachUp coach).

On February 11, 2021, Rolando commented on How Lululemon legitimized leggings as the new business casual :

Very interesting analysis Giulia. I think it’s fascinating how Lululemon has undergone such a dramatic digital transformation, and right on time to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the pandemic. I think it is a great example of successfully applying technology to traditional industries, in this case retail clothing. In my opinion, Lululemon has transformed itself into a technology company that happens to sell sportswear. I think this strategy is particularly effective in their industry, where fashion tastes are fickle and hard to predict. They have become a comprehensive, active lifestyle brand, beyond a simple fashion trend.

Very interesting read! Might be somewhat cynical and Black Mirror-esque but I wonder if there is a slippery slope with the introduction of tiers (free, premium, etc) for the passport. I wouldn’t be fond of having to pay for public activity access “as-a-service” and have to pay more in order to unlock additional access. I’m inclined to think that the government will need to keep a close eye on this new development in order to prevent abuse of this kind. The NYT article mentions that the government of Denmark is developing its own digital passport – it will be very interesting to see how this product and its implementation differs when coming from the public vs the private sector. Hopefully we’re able to shed light soon on which is the ideal approach.

On February 10, 2021, Rolando commented on Drizly: Drinking the Pandemic to the Top :

I found it interesting that Uber decided to exclude Lantern, the cannabis delivery platform, from the deal. My guess is that cannabis delivery could provide a very attractive avenue for growth post-Covid, as alcohol delivery returns to pre-Covid levels (which I agree with you Francisco will happen). After digging a bit deeper (see articles below), I found that Lantern is quite small (14 employees) and operated as an independent subsidiary of the Drizly Group. Uber could’ve probably included the subsidiary as part of a package deal in the acquisition, but maybe they just didn’t want to deal with any potential negative press fallout. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in an interview with CNBC that “the company currently isn’t interested in marijuana delivery” but indicated that “the sentiment could change.” Lantern currently has cannabis delivery services in Massachusetts and Michigan, and is positioned to expand into new legal markets.”