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On November 20, 2016, apedrajo commented on Peloton: Digitalizing Spinning :

Great post Catherine! The CEO of Peloton certainly has high aspirations if he plans on making Apple look “small time!” I love the comment discussion going on as to how Peloton will fit in with traditional cycle classes as well as road biking. I agree with Ken that Peloton seems best served as an additional option for studio riders who wish to augment their class schedules with at home riding. Additionally, I could see Peloton doing significant corporate business, as corporate gyms are increasingly employing instructors and investing in the latest gym equipment in order to ensure a healthy workforce. Overall, the most significant hurdle Peloton seemingly faces is generating a similar high-energy riding environment that the SoulCycles and FlyWheels of the world excel at. By live-streaming fellow riders, the best instructors, and great music, Peloton could eventually come close to mimicking an in-class experience. Moreover, the potential to ride with friends from across the world is incredibly appealing. I also like the last part of the article that mentions the potential addition of adjacent machinery as a next step for Peloton. In order to gain a competitive advantage, Peloton needs to add to its convenience factor and offer new workouts that spin studios can’t, including digital strength training.

On November 20, 2016, apedrajo commented on Disney – Hakuna Matata! Digital ain’t no passing craze :

Thank you for the great post Shray! I am a big Disney fan and loved reading about how they are engaging customers through mobile apps and their magic bands within the theme parks. The most interesting part for me was hearing about Disney’s Digital Accelerator program. I think this is a great way for Disney to stay at the forefront of innovation in the space, and engage potential future tech partners at the earliest level. I read an interesting article on the latest batch of startups in the program (https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/11/walt-disney-co-reveals-9-new-startups-in-the-disney-accelerator-spanning-robotics-cinematic-vr-and-ai/) and I was glad to see two virtual reality companies and several platforms for engaging a digital audience. The most shocking startup was Hanson Robotics, which creates very human looking robots including Sophia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxdtkNXpdlA. Maybe in the near future Sophia will be greeting Disney park guests!

Thank you Tarunika for a fascinating read on the unmanned grocery store concept! I think it’s particularly interesting that Naraffar came about in a very rural Swedish town, when I would generally associate tech-enabled concepts with large cities.

Similar to Patrick, I would have a few concerns as to how “unmanned” stores like Naraffar can be. Aside from stocking and clean up, patrons might face technical issues with the scanning of items, or have questions on merchandise. Not providing in person or mobile-enabled support for these issues could lead to customer dissatisfaction. Additionally, reviewing hours of security footage whenever inventory is missing could be a very costly endeavor from a labor perspective.

That said, I believe there is a place for unmanned convenience stores, as a supplement to traditional grocery stores. After watching the video linked in the article, it seems like business is largely done either after grocery stores have closed at night or before they have opened in the mornings. Moreover, the I would guess that business at these stores would likely be one-off purchases of snacks or missing essential items such as a jar of baby food, and not a household’s weekly grocery purchases. As long as the revenue from these purchases offsets the large capital expenditures for a tech-enabled store, I think these concepts could have great success.

On November 20, 2016, apedrajo commented on Thrown from the nest: Nest Lab’s Challenges and Opportunities :

Very interesting article Stephen! While I was clear on the value Nest brought to its consumers and the company itself, I was not aware that Nest provided data to utility companies. I wonder if utility companies view Nest as a net-positive, considering that Nest enables thousands of consumers to use less energy, and therefore pay less to utility companies.

I agree that further commercializing household data is definitely an interesting area for Nest to pursue, however consumer appeal still needs to be taken into account. Nest’s data relies on household adoption of Nest products, and this adoption is not guaranteed. A competitor that focuses on product differentiation could easily come in and usurp Nest’s lead in the smart home space. Therefore, I believe that Nest needs to be simultaneously a product leader, staying at the forefront of digital trends, and commercialize its vast quantities of data.

Nest should also take into account privacy concerns, which could become an issue down the road. One example of a concern could be thieves gathering energy usage data to know when people are in their homes, and plan burglaries during times when energy is not in use.

On November 20, 2016, apedrajo commented on At Nordstrom Lines Just Aren’t Cool Anymore :

Thank you for a very interesting article on Nordstrom’s investment in its POS devices at store locations! I was especially interested in the effect that the implementation of the mobile POS devices had on abandonment rates and number of items sold. It makes a lot of sense that people would be less likely to second guess purchase decisions if the sales rep who has been helping them is able to facilitate their purchase on the spot. However, I wonder if rates of return for items also went up. Customers might feel pressured to buy items they have not properly vetted, and therefore might simply return these items at a later date. Due to the fact that Nordstrom has such a liberal return policy (items are able to be returned for years after purchase, with or without tags), it may be difficult to track the actual impact of the implementation of the POS devices. Overall though, I think the mobile POS devices are a great step in the right direction for Nordstrom. The next frontier is definitely a focus on digital sales, both on mobile devices and PCs.

Great post Taylor! I really enjoyed reading about Alon’s shift from crude oil refining to their “California renewables project.” I’m glad to hear that expertise in crude oil refinery lends itself to expertise in refining renewable fuel (at least in the case of Alon). Also, it’s fascinating that environmental credits in the U.S. are given by a variety of agencies to firms both in and outside of the U.S. (including Neste), and are partly determined by the carbon intensity of the lifecycle of the fuel.

While I completely agree that Alon faces some big challenges, including the threat from large global competitors, I think that Alon may have some big opportunities to effectively market themselves to end-consumers. In the article, you mentioned that gas stations are unable to separate renewable and petroleum diesels into separate tanks. Perhaps, Alon could partner with gas stations to provide stickers, signs, or other marketing materials that the gas at that station is at least partly Alon renewable gas. Additionally, it would make a splashy marketing campaign to partner with an innovative airline company like Virgin America, to market Alon’s jet fuel (AltAir). Increasing end-consumer visibility into the great work Alon is doing could give the company an edge against competitors like Neste.

On November 7, 2016, apedrajo commented on Carbon-Cutting Is Now En Vogue :

Super interesting post Catherine! I was quite surprised that LVMH’s retail stores contribute 80% of their greenhouse gas emissions. I would have thought that manufacturing of products would be a higher percentage of emissions. It was also interesting to learn that LVMH is focusing on reducing the emissions of their retail stores through a focus on LED lighting. While I agree LED lighting is a great step in reducing energy usage, I also think that LVMH could leverage innovative store design to bring in more natural lighting. LVMH is known for partnering with high end design firms to create iconic retail stores for its brands in key markets. By incorporating sustainable LEED design into these partnerships, LVMH could be truly innovative in the retail landscape.

On November 7, 2016, apedrajo commented on Nike: Swooshing to Tackle Climate Change :

Thank you Kenny for making me proud to own Nike Flyknit sneakers! It’s very exciting to read about Nike’s thought leadership in sustainable R&D and dedication to renewable energy generation. Nike’s plan to use 100% renewable energy at its owned and operated factories is incredibly ambitious– assuming Nike doesn’t outsource a large percentage of its manufacturing.

I tend to disagree with your opinion that Nike will face a consumer challenge marketing sustainable products, such as jerseys made from recycled materials, etc. I actually think these products provide a high level of cache in today’s society, and allow the consumer to feel like their purchase is contributing to a better world. One example of this is Lauren Bush Lauren’s FEED company, which has been very succesful selling bags that are made of environmentally-friendly materials and provide meals in the countries where they are produced. With Nike’s trusted brand, I think they will only face increased opportunities in selling products made from sustainable materials.

On November 7, 2016, apedrajo commented on Time for Marriott to ‘Check-in’ to Climate Change :

Thanks for a great article Eric! I’m glad that Marriott has taken on some very ambitious goals, such as reducing energy and water consumption by 20% by 2020. Also, I’m interested in their LEED prototype, which is definitely a step in the right direction. One thing to keep in mind is that hotel companies are constantly refreshing their current estates, with renovations required every 5 – 10 years. As part of these renovations, Marriott could mandate incorporating LEED improvements in energy usage. In that way, Marriott would not have to wait to build new hotels to have an increasingly green portfolio. Also, at InterContinental Hotels Group we gave our hotels a technology system called IHG Green Engage which gave hotel owners transparency into their energy usage and best practices in reducing waste. Hotel-level visibility should be key to Marriott’s education efforts.

On November 7, 2016, apedrajo commented on The insatiable appetite of climate change :

This is a very interesting article Saurav! I’m impressed Cargill has such an optimistic attitude regarding climate change, considering it has caused large losses for the company in the past (such as the Q4 2014 drought effect that you pointed out). I suppose that despite the volatility shown in the first chart, yields per acre are still improving over time in the U.S.

I completely agree that a main area of focus for Cargill going forward should be identifying and investing in new technology. In addition, as a global company, I believe that Cargill should have a global lens when looking for innovation in agriculture. As an example, Cargill could partner with organizations engaging in digital soil mapping, such as the Africa Soil Information Service funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which provides key data for natural resource management and sustainable agriculture in data-sparse regions.