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On November 20, 2016, EIO commented on A Monk in Your Pocket: The Digitization of Mindfulness :

Meditation apps are great… I’ve never used Headspace but am not curious and will check it out.

A few questions:

In what ways do you think that apps like Headspace have affected the meditation “business”? Do you think it has “disrupted” the business in any way? I am curious to hear your thoughts because the way I see it, I think that apps like these have probably helped the “industry” by promoting meditation/ increasing awareness (and thus getting more people to go to meditation centers) rather than “stealing” customers.

This is really interesting! In practice, do you know how successful companies have been in getting their employees to wear Fitbits (or similar devices) and subsequently obtaining discounts from their insurers? I ask because I think this idea only works if everyone in the company agrees to wear the device– if, for example, only the healthy ones wore the device (which I think is a totally reasonable assumption), then the Fitbit data provided to insurers would not account for the unhealthy individuals (who probably have higher costs and would thus significantly influence the premium the company has to pay).

Also, I am wondering what the true value of tracking employee health with a Fitbit would be for insurance companies? When it comes to determining premiums, I feel like they could simply just use real data (i.e., look at all of the claims/expenditures) instead of using less accurate, less reliable data from a Fitbit. I see how Fitbits can encourage employees to be healthier (which would eventually drive down costs), but the idea of sending Fitbit data to insurance companies to reduce premiums seems a bit strange to me.

On November 20, 2016, EIO commented on Skootar: Transforming the Messenger Service in Bangkok :

This is like Uber on motorcycles transporting products instead of people– very interesting! You mentioned that “Skootar is successfully displacing the archaic messenger systems that have pervaded Bangkok,” which leads me to believe that the are doing pretty well (is this correct?). If so, do you know how they were able to get people to trust the system? I suspect that people were probably initially worried about the idea of having a stranger pick up/ deliver something value– what approaches did they take to effectively launch the product?

I love despegar.com! I feel like all my life I’ve been getting ripped off buying tickets through travel agents in LatAm, and I finally found a website that not only addresses the burden of going to a travel agent, but also provides me with amazing deals.

I think that the shift that they made from online to apps makes a lot of sense given the context. There are still many households in LatAm that lack the financial means to own a computer but own phones, so an app not only enhances the user experience for existing customer, but also enables despegar.com to target an untapped consumer segment.

It will be interesting to see the degree to which competition within travel-booking websites such as despegar.com will affect the price for the products they sell (flight tickets, hotels, etc).

On November 20, 2016, EIO commented on Will Telemedicine Re-shape Our Healthcare Industry? :

I agree that telemedicine companies such as Teladoc can significantly increase access to healthcare and tackle costs. In terms of accessibility, I think that financially constrained individuals and those who live in areas with a low number of doctors per capita will especially benefit from this service. In terms of costs, I disagree with Sky’s comment that more patients using Teladoc will increase healthcare costs. I think that the reduced barrier for patients to seek healthcare will actually decrease costs by allowing conditions to be diagnosed earlier and thus lowering long-term healthcare costs. Furthermore, based on the product’s price structure, it sounds like this is a product that would primarily be used by insured patients (the $35 price point for an telemedicine appointment is similar (if not higher) than an outpatient visit using health insurance, so I think that someone with health insurance would still prefer to visit the doctor in person or call their doctor (for free) if they prefer not to travel).

I don’t necessarily agree that Teladoc will increase the quality of care. I think that the physical distance created between the patient and the doctor may lead to difficulties finding the correct diagnosis and treatment. I would be interested to see if in the future, we will see telemedicine combined with technologies such as IBM Watson that will enable more accurate, speedy care.

On November 7, 2016, EIO commented on Coral Bleaching Threatens Luxury Travel Company :

Love this post! I spent a semester conducting marine biology research in Australia (this involved lots of scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef!), and it broke my heart to learn that we may no longer have colorful coral reefs in the near future. According to this CNN article published earlier this year, over 90% of the Great Barrier Reef is currently suffering from coral bleaching (http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/20/asia/great-barrier-reef-coral-bleaching/). Coral reefs are not only sources of joy for scuba divers like us, but more importantly, serve as habitats for various species and are thus critical for their survival. I think it’s great that Kuoni is taking proactive measures to mitigate it’s carbon footprint, but unfortunately I think that the extent of their impact is limited in preserving coral reefs. I don’t have a perfect solution, but I think that ultimately it is up to us, as a society, to change our behavior and start taking better care of our planet.

On November 7, 2016, EIO commented on Burger King’s sustainability efforts: barely trying :

Interesting post!

You mentioned that, “Burger King lags significantly behind McDonald’s, who has dramatically reduced its purchasing of beef and soy from non-sustainable sources, and eliminated its purchase of palm oil for restaurant cooking to sustainability-certified sources.” I am wondering what “sustainable” refers to in this context, as sustainability is often (though not always) linked with climate change.

I agree that the issue of sustainability should be top-of-mind for popular fast food chains like Burger King. Not only would doing so set a precedent for competitors to follow, but I also think that with customers becoming increasingly more mindful about how/where their food is sourced, failing to implement sustainable practices may hurt Burger King’s ability to retain customers.

On November 7, 2016, EIO commented on EPM, climate change and hidroelectric power :

I view EPM as a leader in delivering public energy in a sustainable manner, whether that is through hydroelectric power stations, thermoelectric power stations, or wind farms. Having spent part of my life living in cities where energy sources heavily contribute to global change (and negatively affect the environment), I wonder to what extent other countries would be able (and willing) to replicate the EPM model, and what it would take for them to do so.

On November 7, 2016, EIO commented on Climate Change and Colombian Floriculture :

Interesting post! It made me wonder to what degree the floriculture itself contributes to climate change (e.g., flowers are increasingly being grown in environments where global warming has contributed to increased temperatures, so does water usage contribute to worsening the current situation?).

Really interesting article! It was surprising to me to see that over one third of General Mill’s CO2 emissions came from agriculture and the transformation steps– if I had to guess, I would have guessed that a lot of it came from consumption (e.g., packaging that is then burned and potentially secretes byproducts that contribute to global warming). I noticed that shipping is the second largest source of CO2 emissions for General Mills. As next steps for the company, I would encourage them to also focus on reducing CO2 emissions during transportation, such as by moving production closer to the customer (onshore).