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On December 14, 2015, Alek commented on Yakult: Success with “Yakult Ladies” :

Dai, very interesting write-up. I remember yakult as a kid in Mexico and never knowing it was healthy! As you pointed out, I like how they leverage variable costs and relationships to create deep footholds in markets where their salesforce can be successful. I think I envisioned this as working better in rural areas than urban ones, but you said Japan has 40,000 yakult ladies…I assume they’re effective? Is yakult well dispersed globally or have they focused on developed countries?

Great stuff, Ian. My question relates to scalability; do you think their current structure will enable them to grow beyond niche-level flights? I think it makes perfect sense from an innovation and R&D perspective as a growing company, but it may need to evolve as their own technology matures and creates a real industry.

I agree with Seanna on whether their push into Nordstroms compromises their operating model’s advantages (i.e. they simply join an existing channel and lose margins). I also wonder what their cost structure looks like (fixed v variable) from them to have $100M in revenue and capture full margin on their products and still not turn an overall profit. Have they already invested in their fixed infrastructure and just need unit sales increases to turn the corner, or is Seanna on the money and will they have to find changes to their core model?

On December 14, 2015, Alek commented on Rio Tinto: supplying raw materials for the world :

Good call, James. They definitely have an active M&A group that helps them maximize existing assets that others have developed. They also often buy undeveloped-but-proven deposits that exploration firms have discovered.

On December 13, 2015, Alek commented on PARIBUS — reclaiming $$$ that stores owe YOU. :

Hi Mike, this was a great write-up of a very interesting business model. I won’t repeat any of the former questions, but I was wondering what advantages you feel Paribus has that potential competitors don’t (beyond being a first mover)? What does the company actually do in day-to-day operations and how are they evolving their product?