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On December 14, 2015, Cynthialiu commented on Akindo Sushiro: Tasty Sushi for All at $1 per plate :

Tak, thank you for such great insights. This reminds me a lot of Benihana, where the unique layout of the restaurant is very conducive to high operational efficiency. Having been to several conveyor belt sushi restaurants, I have to say that I love the experience, and have always been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the sushi and the quality of the service. As I think more about it now and from reading your write-up, it is really interesting how the operational efficiency of the restaurant actually leads to higher quality. For example, due to the shorter cycle time and hence the multiple seatings per night that a restaurant is able to accommodate, the sushi turnover is also higher, which means that the fish is much more fresh here. Because the conveyor belt is essentially what is serving the customers, the labor force can be focused on either making the food or catering to customer questions / requests, rendering higher quality service. I really think this is an example where operating and business models come together so well, and I think it is time for you and I to start a chain of conveyor belt sushi restaurants here in the US!

On December 14, 2015, Cynthialiu commented on Goods Doing Good: Sustainable Luxury at Maiyet :

Selin, thank you for such an interesting article! I have not heard of Maiyet, which is surprising because I actually love shopping online and know most of the online retailers. From reading your post, I believe Maiyet has an operating model that allows it to win in high fashion going forward: a unique source of craftsmanship that is unfortunately becoming more and more rare in the world today, a strong component of social impact and community development, and lastly a wide-reaching channel for artisans to share their story. However, I do wonder why it is that I have never heard of Maiyet, and hence have questions around how Maiyet is marketing itself and whether its current positioning as ultra-luxury is the right one. As I scroll through the merchandise that is available on the Maiyet website, it is striking how expensive some of these items are, and my main concern would be that the price point offered only caters to a very exclusive group of consumers. While I do think that it is important to position these artisans’ work as luxury items, a $500+ price tag for a tank-top may deter most shoppers from purchasing it, and hence it is critical for Maiyet to pressure test whether its current positioning is detrimental to both its business model and the social impact that it is trying to deliver.

On December 14, 2015, Cynthialiu commented on Drybar: “Turning Hot Air Into Big Business” :

Interesting post Nora! I love DryBar and think it is a fantastic company. Going forward, I am interested to see how DryBar handles the competition that is currently entering the market. For example, I have noticed a plethora of other blow out salons popping up, or start-ups with interesting subscription-based business models (e.g., Vive). At the end of the day, there is a low barrier to entry when it comes to blow-drying someone’s hair, and consumers are driven more by convenience. For example, if another blow-dry bar opens up near my apartment, I would probably go to that store as opposed to finding a DryBar. This is similar to nail salons and other beauty parlors where it is very difficult to generate consumer loyalty to a certain brand or chain of stores. As a result, scale here is very important, because having as many stores as possible in convenient locations would be what sustains costumer traffic as more and more players enter into this space. Nevertheless, as DryBar pursues scale, it may become challenging to maintain the operating model that you described, as DryBar would really need to focus on consistently replicating the same great customer experience and hiring the right people to give high quality blow-outs.