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Hao, thanks for writing the article about Ocean Optics, Inc! You mentioned that the commercialization of this product was difficult, so I’m curious to know whether their segmentation of customers (academic vs industrial) was instituted early on or whether there were changes made to the sales organization through time. The product offering seems to be quite differentiated, so is there a significant difference in operations for these two customer segments? In addition to the sales force, what other operational considerations impact the business strategy or value proposition of the company?

On December 14, 2015, AG commented on Microstar: Untapping Growth in Craft Beer :

Great article Ian! Microstar plays an interesting role within the beer distribution space, and it was great learning about the value it provides to craft breweries and their patrons. I agree with your conclusion that Microstar benefits from the network effect – an increased customer base leads to better utilization of capital-intensive facilities such as warehouses, which in turn decreases overall costs. Microstar owns a significant inventory of steel kegs, which you’ve pointed out is quite capital-intensive. Because it’s harder for Microstar to be “lean” in terms of assets, I wonder how Microstar deals with decreased demand for its services. I am also curious to know what type of improvement in turn that Microstar has been able to achieve compared to the 3 to 4 turns a brewery experiences each year. Overall, this is an interesting business model which uses its unique operating model to prop up its value proposition.

On December 14, 2015, AG commented on Yume Wo Katare: express your dreams :

Interesting post, Phillip! I’m not too familiar with ramen, and your article was a great introduction to the cuisine! The process flow of customers through the restaurant is quite unique. I agree with your assessment that this model is reminiscent of the Benihana operating model.

I’m curious about how the restaurant deals with customers in larger groups. The seating methodology seems to fit well for individual customers who don’t necessarily need to sit in groups, which allows for great flexibility. I feel as though the throughput time for customers will decrease substantially with variability in customer group size. The time of day in which Yume Wo Katare serves its customers (lunch vs dinner) may also play a role in this. Lunch customers may be more aligned with the operating model that expedites time through the restaurant.

Your description of the line that forms outside Yume Wo Katare is also reminiscent of the operating model of Georgetown Cupcake in Washington DC. The waiting area prior to ordering is intentionally small, and it serves two purposes: keeping rent costs down and allowing the line that forms outside the store to be a free advertising source.

This operating model will work well as long as customers don’t demand a higher level of service from the restaurant staff. Additionally, the high throughput model is only valuable as long as there is a sufficient supply of customers that are eager to eat at Yume Wo Katare.