• Alumni

Activity Feed

On November 20, 2016, A.Pi commented on Drug Digitization :

Frankly, I’m surprised to find that medical nonadherence is such a large issue–it’s mind-boggling to think that someone would not take a pill that is supposed to make them better. I suppose that if the side effects are annoying enough or the benefits dubious, then I could understand intentional nonadherence. However, to then think that a digital sensor is going to make patients more compliant seems overly optimistic–the only real application I see here is in some sort of court- or hospital-mandated program where patients are legally required to take their medication. Proteus’ value proposition seems more useful in detecting when a drug has been taken, rather than changing the behavior around taking it. And if consumers are skeptical of a pill’s benefits anyway, adding microchips is not going to help with adoption–this is going to be a steep curve to success.

On November 20, 2016, A.Pi commented on Finding Nemo :

Really like the idea of using blockchain to track food through a supply chain, but I’m struggling with two main points. The first is similar to Kristen’s post on the buy-in of the primary suppliers, the fishermen. From my understanding, fishing is a very decentralized industry with a lot of small producers (e.g. the soya farmers with their choupals); without a body that has the market weight to enforce this new behavior (e.g. a giant buyer like ITC), how sustainable is this new model? Second, from a customer perspective, this feels like it would only be relevant to a small subset of the population that really cares about their food sources. The vast majority of the US would probably not pay for this if any cost were to be passed on to the consumer–despite growth in the organic category (a proxy for people who care about their food), it is still a small percentage of the overall food market.

I completely agree that traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores will have to change their models if they want to survive in the new world of Amazon–the costs are too high and customers are too used to buying products online. For commoditized goods like televisions or washing machines where the range of options is relatively limited and personal preference does not play a huge role, retailers that sell these products are most at risk. However, for items like apparel, customers still like to touch and try on clothes in-person–and they’re more likely to buy in-store because the small financial outlay can generate a lot of instant gratification. One play against Amazon is to not sell proprietary products on the site: if you can drive people to your own website instead, you capture the desired margin and retain control of customer data. It’s hard for brands to resist the lure of Amazon’s customer base, but it may be the only way to prevent a slow death.

On November 7, 2016, A.Pi commented on A Yogis Approach to Sustainability :

Ironic that the company well-known for its quality blunders (e.g. the see-through yoga pants crisis of 2013) has stated a commitment to this idea of “five years of intended use” for each piece of their apparel. It’s great to hear that Lululemon is addressing multiple pieces of their supply chain, but I agree with Joe that a lot of this seems to be done for the sake of marketing and less so to create a truly sustainable business. Quite frankly, a lot of the initiatives that they have embarked upon (e.g. using ocean transport instead of air, middle-of-the-country distribution centers, and internal office recycling programs) are table-stakes for anyone trying to be a competitive business in this century. It’s also worth noting that these initiatives will greatly reduce Lululemon’s costs–that is, it’s not all for the sake of the environment, they’re just generally smart business moves.

Another major problem with athleisure wear is that the fabrics used are most usually some combination of artificial textiles (like lycra or polyester) that are harder to recycle than natural fibers like wool and bamboo. I would like to see Lululemon create some sort of recycling program in-store for their customers (similar to what H&M does), so that these products don’t decompose slowly in landfills.

On November 7, 2016, A.Pi commented on Insulating Levi’s from climate change :

I completely agree that Levi’s is among the progressive of manufacturers/retailers, especially when it comes to denim, but at what point does sustainability take precedence over customer-facing pricing? There have been several examples of companies that have built their operating and business models (in addition to their reputations) on the idea of sustainable clothing, and customers have responded very positively to the idea of paying slightly more for increased social capital (i.e., feeling good about yourself–and signaling so to others–because you bought a sustainable item of clothing). Despite the fact that Levi’s has traditionally been more price-competitive with some of the lower-tier brands, they have an opportunity to move further upscale and charge a premium for sustainably-sourced jeans. Even if that product line doesn’t make up the majority of sales, I think the brand and its bottom line would benefit from such an opportunity.

The Maldives are definitely the unfortunate losers in the global climate war as the islands are forced to suffer from exogenous factors that affect their biodiversity and weather patterns. One potential strategy to mitigate some of these costs would be to raise prices on the 1.2 million tourists flooding the islands every year. With either an entry or exit tax payable at the airport (the latter being commonly used by island nations and small airports), the Maldives can ensure that they will at least have some more financial resources to contend with the impending changes to their ecosystem. These taxes on tourists could also help fund the education and clean-up programs that you discussed, and I highly doubt that demand from tourists would wane much. My hypothesis is that trips to the Maldives are relatively price-elastic–if you have the money to fly there and book one of the high-end resorts, then a few extra dollars at the airport is a small price to pay for the ability to come back one day.

A novel take on how carbon taxes and their associated costs ripple through a supply chain. When dealing with powerful partners in the value chain, it’s critical to think about how the Goliaths may lord their authority over smaller suppliers. As much as I think Coles has an obligation to pay carbon taxes (as the actual producers of the biscuits), it seems to me that their suppliers were also at fault for being unable to put together their own cohesive negotiation strategy. I would expect that the term “justifiable cost” would be a major sticking point in any contract discussion, and there should be some shared responsibility between the two parties for any increase in costs due to external factors (in this case, legislation uncontrolled by either party).

This is a really interesting look at Tyson’s attempt to diversify into projects that go directly against their business model. I wonder though, what benefit they would ultimately derive from a partnership with Beyond Meat. From what I understand, Beyond Meat’s biggest difficulty is in making the protein creation process scalable and at a reasonable cost. While Tyson has expertise in scaling processing plants, I’m not sure that they would be as successful in taking a lab process and scaling it up for mass manufacturing. And even if they were, and consumers bought into the concept, what would then be the impact on Tyson’s core business?

It feels like Tyson is hopping on the potential, far-off-in-the-future, non-meat protein train without giving any consideration to their current destruction of Earth and its atmosphere. Hopefully the company is combatting their own very real effects on climate change at the same time as they’re pursuing moonshot ventures.

It’s great to see that Nissui is taking steps to combat some of the most harmful effects of overfishing. I was really interested to read more about the aquaculture of yellowtail tuna (and potentially bluefin in the future). Given that these are threatened species, if there is any way that Nissui can artificially farm fish to satisfy demand, that could be a boon to the natural population.

My questions would be around how this might fundamentally change Nissui’s business model. In a way, it’s like IKEA owning/leasing the forests for their wood–Nissui is trying to take control of its raw materials (in their case, fish) and raise them in a sustainable way. However, this effort requires a large amount of capital investment if it is going to make a dent in the global, growing demand for fish–and alters the company’s current mix of fisheries and aquaculture. Hopefully Nissui’s executives see this investment as critical to their future success, especially if the world’s wild fish population continues down its current route.