• Alumni

Activity Feed

On November 22, 2015, uilc commented on Netflix: Bringing Data Analytics to a Creative Industry :

Netflix also uses data to understand exactly what episode a user will get “hooked” on. For House of Cards, I believe it was the second episode. This is quite powerful information and can help encourage certain behaviors that Netflix wants to see in uses (e.g. binge watching). With the recent string of new original content featuring diversity in it’s cast (Master of None, Jessica Jones, Jane the Virgin) Netflix is using it’s data to understand what users want to see. This reduces the risk of product failure and also makes Netflix a medium that many aspiring stars hope to be featured on.

On November 22, 2015, uilc commented on SmartMat – quantifying the unquantifiable :

This technology seems to follow the trend of consumers demanding data and quantification of their health/fitness routines. Many wearables and health tech companies have tried to quantify yoga / mediation but most of failed. Most consumers will find the data “cool” but realize in a few months that they do not know what to do with the data and haven’t seen any improvement in their health. The additional issue is that the use case for the SmartMat is even more limited (or focused depending on your perspective). In order to generate enough data, the SmartMat will need to be used widely, which is tough with such a high price point. Perhaps the company could look into licensing its technology or partnering with larger brands to try to reach a broader audience base.

On November 22, 2015, uilc commented on Big data to transform agriculture :

It seems like the company can also use big data to understand what influences certain characteristics/outcomes of a plant. For example, the company can create the secret formula to naturally create the most crunch and the best tasting spinach by understanding what inputs and stress points significantly impact the plant. Furthermore, the rest of the agriculture industry is so behind on data collection this could be a huge advantage for AeroFarms. I am very interested in seeing how consumers respond to the technology. There’s no doubt that there will be large benefits for society as long as people accept it.

On October 31, 2015, uilc commented on Pebble Smartwatch : The Serial Crowdfunded Superstar :

The hardware device is vetted by the crowd, but I wonder if the software on the Pebble is vetted in the same way. I believe developers have to create slightly different apps for the Pebble (perhaps they can reuse most of the code, but the update/hot fix process is completely separate), which just means there’s more effort for a company to maintain it’s IOS, Android, and Pebble app. I don’t own a Pebble watch but my hypothesis is that the IOS version of the Fitbit app is far superior (not including the fact that it has color). This can deter consumer behavior on the margin especially as the wearables devices all converge towards sameness and offer the same features.

I’ve used Gasbuddy before, and I used it fervently for about 2 weeks and then stopped because I never won anything and I didn’t want to be the data gathering monkey for the company. I think a huge issue with the app is churn, especially if users don’t believe they will get anything for their effort. My hypothesis is that users download the app but stop using it after a very short time period, especially if they don’t win a gas card in the first 2-3 weeks. If Gasbuddy changed the incentive system they may see a reduction in churn rate. Furthermore, Gasbuddy works better in cities where people drive a lot (L.A. or Houston), but less so in other cities like NYC or SF.

The one issue I have with prediction methods is that it has to be time sensitive. If my tank is low, I can’t wait a week for prices to get lower. However, I would find it valuable if you told me that 5 miles a way is a cheaper gas station of decent quality. But with gas prices as cheap as they are these days people have the time to save the extra penny than they did a few years ago.

On October 31, 2015, uilc commented on Reddit: A bastion of free speech :

I think the most interesting part is how reddit became mainstream. The topics and content had to do a lot with why people returned to the site and also why people shared the site with others. I am curious whether reddit steered content in the direction of what was more interesting to people or if it was more organic. Also, something similar has been created in China – it’s called the Human Flesh Search Engine (literal translation) and it is one of the most interesting cases of crowd sourcing. May be worth looking into if you’re interested in this topic.

On October 3, 2015, uilc commented on Strava: Social Fitness Veteran :

Strava certainly holds a niche in a very crowded market, however, the trade off is that the network cannot get too large. First because there simply are more average joe’s than extreme fitness enthusiasts, and second if the app does go mainstream perhaps the original appeal will wear off. I also wonder if there is also a point where the number of competitive / intense athletes is so high that it becomes quite discouraging for even some of the original early adopters.

In terms of value capture, I wonder how much they are able to claim since they don’t make their own hardware (correct me if this is wrong), and the app itself is free.

I believe MINDBODY still has some indirect network effects, because if you imagine there are few companies using MINDBODY and few users finding these companies then the product would definitely be less valuable. Furthermore, I would say that MINDBODY can also be considered a platform, perhaps your contention is with where the most value creation / captures happens in the value chain of the platform. Being the back-end software provider is a huge platform play – if every yoga studio hooks into your infrastructure, you are the platform provider, and there should be decently high switching costs for the provider. The issue is of course multi-homing, nothing stops a specific yoga studio from listing their classes on YogaPanda and using MINDBODY.

It is very interesting that MINDBODY hasn’t moved into offering excess mat space for cheaper. I wonder what constraints in MINDBODY’s business model or culture has deterred them from moving in this direction.

Fitbit has been around for quite some time, so they seem to have an edge in terms of market share. But as the incumbent I am interested to see how they should and shift from product-centric, to platform-centric.

The wearables space is so crowded, especially with Xiao Mi’s insanely low price and grabbing 50% of the market share in just one year (just after 2014 where the graph doesn’t go), it seems like the product is becoming a commodity. One could even argue that Xiao Mi actually has a bigger network than Fitbit.

Fitbit has it’s own database of data that it allows researchers to use, and this may be an area where they can turn to a platform that allows either researchers, marketers, or other health/fitness focused professionals to plug into their database to extract insights.

On September 13, 2015, uilc commented on theSkimm: A Digital Weapon for the Modern News Consumer :

Thanks for writing an interesting post on theSkimm. I found out about theSkimm through word of mouth and opened almost all of their emails. I agree that going to the user instead of waiting for him/her to visit is a good strategy, but this is something that competitors could easily replicate. It seems like their sassy content is a competitive edge that brings users back for more the next day. It will be interesting to see how theSkimm can find out more information about it’s users in order to position itself into the lifestyle brand that it’s users relate to. TheSkimm should also continue to attract non-consumers of news, so that it does not attract attention from major publications. If theSkimm attempts to go into a head-on battle with the likes of The New York Times, I’m not sure I would bet on theSkimm as the winner just yet.

On September 13, 2015, uilc commented on Nordstrom – Innovating to Stay Relevant :

The Nordstrom app and website offer a great UX experience. This is probably why it is one of the most visited sites for online shoppers. However, I wonder if Nordstrom these investments in digital can translate into sales and can continue to fend off other retailers from low-end disruption. For example, numerous low cost retailers are flooding the market with inexpensive fast fashion pieces(e.g. Asos and Primark). These brands often have pieces that imitate more expensive brand’s styles but offer them to customers at a deep discount. Nordstrom may prefer customers with deeper pockets, but market has more consumers who make the average household income. While users may spend their time browsing on Nordy’s, it will be interesting to see if the lower price competitors can continue to pick off customers that Nordstrom doesn’t want.

On September 13, 2015, uilc commented on ClassPass: Workouts just got easier :

I’ve used ClassPass and enjoyed it, but I’m curious to see if they will continue to win the game if competitors move into the space. I wonder how easy it would be for a competitor to come in at a cheaper monthly fee and / or offer users more than 3 classes at a specific location. While ClassPass has created a large network of partners, it is not impossible for another company to replicate the business model.

I am also curious to see where ClassPass ultimately positions itself. Does it attempt to replace studio/gym memberships all together, or is it more of a ticket to trying studios until a user finds one he/she wants to become a member to? Some of the answers to this question could be seen through the churn rates of it’s current users. I was quite surprised that ClassPass did not try to offer users a reason not to leave when I tried and successfully cancelled my ClassPass membership, and I’d be interested to see what % of their customers drop off after 3 months.

The UX on ClassPass is definitely a plus, however the actual experiences/variety varies widely between cities and studios.