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On November 20, 2016, FF commented on The Digital Solution to Overeating :

Thanks for sharing this – I hadn’t heard of Omada before and it sounds like a compelling business in the healthcare space! As the other comments mentioned above, I really like the distinctive pay-for-performance model billing model that is covered by Kaiser, Humana, etc. This would would ensure that people’s reporting is more accurate and not skewed to avoid paying the fees.

Overall, I think this integrated hardware / software approach is novel and innovative for tackling diabetes / heart disease programs, particularly when the current operating models are burdensome and lack social support. I do however have a few concerns that may inhibit customer acquisition. First, I wonder if certain customers who have the peer groups would feel peer pressured in a negative way by seeing others performance or having notifications of others doing activity while they are not. This could induce additional stress that may in fact increase health concerns related to diabetes. Second, I also am curious to know how the messaging with the health advisor works — it could be best to have it controlled to certain time frames so the user is not over burdened.

I really liked this model and this there are avenues for further growth. The company could easily partner with fitness organizations to have trainers for user and / or Nike to utilize some of their fitness programs that they have on their fitness app. Additionally, they can partner with retailers of organic / health foods / vitamins to make these available at discount for users so that they can purchase their meals from there.

On November 20, 2016, FF commented on Wayfair: Way Far Ahead in Digital Transformation? :

Thanks for sharing this! What Wayfair is doing in terms of harnessing technology to improve is operating model and customer experience is incredible–I would certainly use the technology to assess furniture acquisition! However, I think some of the concerns I have are representative of what general consumers would be concerned with. First, I think you nailed it when you said the biggest drawback is making someone purchase another type of technology (ie tablet or oculus) in order to use Wayfairs software / furniture technology. This is a part of the assessment process and should not be something consumers have to pay for — instead, would it be possible for Wayfair to partner with certain furniture retailers have these tools available for use in convenient locations? For example, at a local West Elm or Crate & Barrel, users can use the tablet or the Oculus to see how furniture would be displayed. Obviously their competition would likely then also make the technology available for their products, so that would be one concern. Alternatively, as you mentioned, they would have to develop the software so it is accessible by desktops or mobile apps. Ideally having an app enables you to scan your room would be incredible and easy to use. I am excited about Wayfair’s foray into the digital space and hope they can create cost effective uses of these innovative new technologies!

On November 20, 2016, FF commented on Prepare for Takeoff: Digital Farming with Drones :

Thank you for sharing this! I agree that food supply and security will be a pressing problem for the world very soon and we need to find ways for farmers to be able to harness technology to increase crop yields to match the growing demand. Drones already seem to be one of the most effective types of remote sensors that can be used for precision agriculture. I have a few concerns about the use of drones given some of the drawbacks that may occur. First, how accurate will the imagery be that is produce by the drone given the distance and cloud conditions–will this effect the quality of the data that is produced? Additionally, can this technology replace physical sensors in the ground that can more accurately monitor the soil conditions necessary for plant yields? How useful are drones to daily operational advice for farmers–are drones just applicable for larger farms rather than small plots of land?

On November 20, 2016, FF commented on Stitch Fix – Transforming Retail Through Personalization :

Thanks for sharing! Stitch Fix seems to be like a Birch Box for clothing — and seems like a great fit for those who are very busy and / or do not like the physical shopping experience and would rather have someone do it for them. I am curious know whether the $20 cost is lost on the user if they decide not to purchase anything from their Fix; if so, then I think it would be difficult for users to use the service frequently as they could use other services or order things online themselves where the cost of shipping and returns is free. I really liked how the stylists have access to a wealth of data about a client; I was wondering whether clients would have access to communicate with these stylists to because sometimes all the data they give may not accurately indicate what type of preferences they have for fashion. I know that the target consumer for Stitch Fix is someone who doesn’t necessarily want to go in physical stores; but could it be the case that at some point they open pop up stores or temporary ones where your fixes are delivered to the store and you can try them on their with stylists? This way, when someone goes to the pop up, they will have an assortment of clothing readily picked out for them (more than 5 pieces) and a stylist there with them to help with any questions. This could capture more customers in the retail space!

On November 20, 2016, FF commented on Pill Popping Made Easy :

Elyse – this is great post! I had no idea about Pillpack and think it will be a technology that our generation and the ones after take advantage of because of its convenience, simplicity, and efficiency. They are certainly harnessing technology to solve problems within the pharma industry of ensuring accurate delivery and dosage for patients and obliging patients to consume the pills at the appropriate time. I also think the service they offer of allowing 24/7 access to pharmacists for questions is very customer friendly and will help address any questions, which I think is something that most people are used to when they go to the pharmacy. My biggest concern with Pillpack’s digitization and its tech features is making sure that older generations understand how to utilize the technology. Changing consumer behavior is very difficult and I am wary of older populations relying on technology to communicate with pharmacists if they have questions since many of them may not be very tech-savvy. This however could be rectified if the program allows for other people to access their accounts to make such inquiries for them (i.e., younger family members or nurses).

On November 7, 2016, FF commented on Storm in a tea cup: The tea leaves are falling :

Thanks for sharing this! South Asia will definitely need to consider ways for many of its agricultural businesses to remain profitable given the immense adverse impact climate change will bring about in the region.

I really liked your thoughts on how they can maintain a supply of water during drought season. My only concern with this is the costs they would need to incur to make this happen–already it seems as if their net income is suffering, and additional capex may continue to hurt the business. Instead, I think Bhumya should focus on identifying the cause of the problems and then utilizing stress tolerant tea leaves (as you mentioned). A number of agribusinesses are creating precision agriculture monitoring devices–even low cost versions or those that can be leased–and these can provide accurate data on the soil content. Having this data may make Bhumya’s decision processes easier since they will know exactly what areas are suffering from low moisture. Next, I really liked the idea of Bhumya partnering with the Tea Research Association and using their new stress tolerant varieties. Stress tolerant agricultural products are being used more and more in South Asia and these can yield huge benefits once pilot programs are tested — Bhumya should offer to lead a pilot program to ensure these varieties are brought to market quickly!

On November 7, 2016, FF commented on The Ecological Impact of Feminine Hygiene Products :

Thank you for sharing this post – I had not idea about the adverse consequences feminine products have on the environment and I had not even heard about Natracare!

As I did more research on the company, I saw that The Honest Company also produces organic / sustainable tampons and they have been selling out! (1) This led me to think that there is a demand for the product–the issue here is as you noted one of increasing awareness and opening the dialogue among more women. It would be interesting to see if The Honest Company and Natracare will lead efforts to get other major feminine product producers on board with creating organic / sustainable tampons and pads — it seems to be that the major hurdle for consumers is price point since organic products are more expensive than the traditional and the lack of availability of such products in most drugstores. By shifting the entire industry to creating these products, this will enable NatraCare and The Honest Company to likely have an edge in the market given their first mover advantage — but for the industry and for sustainability, it will be a huge win by getting their competitors to help bring about change for sustainability.

(1) http://www.teenvogue.com/story/organic-tampons

Really well-written and well-researched post, Caroline! Thank you!

I agree entirely with your skepticism on how much all of Inditex’s sustainability efforts are not truly helping to resolve the overall adverse effects their business model has on producing exorbitant carbon emissions. It would be interesting to see if they could calculate how much they are reducing fossil fuels / carbon emissions through the collective efforts of all of their sustainability initiatives. I think, though, one of the best ways they can make their business model more sustainable is through an education campaign for their consumers — since they depend on the high inventory turnover in their fast fashion model, they should consider perhaps recycling programs with incentives for shoppers (i.e., bring back your clothes and get a 5% or 10% discount on your next purchase!). It would be interesting to see if this would have traction; if so, this could be a good way for them to re-use fabrics or provide them to other retailers / manufacturers who could make use of their materials. H&M has already done this in fact — they provide $5 vouchers for every piece of clothing that is brought back! Another initiative that Zara should consider is increasing demand / marketing for its sustainable collection, perhaps through the use of celebrities. Consumers need to be more aware of the harmful effects fast fashion has and what he / she can personally do to reverse the trend, even if it is just buying more sustainable clothing.

Jordan – thank you for this compelling post and bringing to light the need for hip burger restaurants to initiate the change against using beef! I couldn’t agree more with everything you outlined, from the mission that should drive Shake Shack and the suggestions you recommend. I really liked how you suggested Impossible Foods as a potential partner — it launched in NYC this summer through Chef David Chang’s Nishi and culinary feedback raved about the burger: “Renfro, a longtime vegetarian, called the meatless burger a “dream come true” and raved about the patty’s beefy texture and aroma. She said it was the most realistic meat alternative she’s eaten.” (1) In addition to partnering with them, Shake Shack should certainly increase prices on its burgers, particularly when the burger served by Impossible Foods is at $12, a much higher price point than a burger at Shake Shack. While I do think this is a great cause, I am not sure how attractive it will be do Shake Shack management as it may impact profitability. What Shake Shack should also consider doing is to partner with other hip and trendy burger joints so together they can ensure that one company’s effort won’t lead to increased consumption at competitors. They could reach out to Umami Burger, Burger & Barrel and Park Soho. Together, these burger joints could lead the change to less beef consumption!

(1) Robinson, Melia. “The plant-based burger that tastes like real meat is coming to the West Coast,” Business Insider, http://www.businessinsider.com/impossible-foods-coming-to-california-2016-10, accessed November 2016.

On November 5, 2016, FF commented on Califia Farms: Cracking the Drought in California :

Dan, terrific post on an issue that will be an ongoing concern, particularly as the health craze (and increased almond milk consumption) for millenials continues. Califia along with other almond milk producers will need to find ways to be more sustainable. A few questions jumped out at me as I read through your post: (1) What has Califia’s inventory management looked like? Is there a way for them to reduce their production amount while still satisfying forecasted demand? (2) How does Califia’s sustainability compare to other almond milk producers, as well as their water usage metrics? (3) What type of precision agriculture technologies are they using to monitor soil moisture and are these effective (depending on the environment and type – physical sensors v remote sensors via drones – efficacy can vary)? Despite how much water Califia is using for its almond production, I will say your post as well as other news sources suggest that water usage for almonds is very efficient — unlike that dairy industry where it takes 110 gallons of water to produce 1 hamburger. Califia seems to be working toward a more sustainable model, and unless almond production is challenged by more efficient plant based production or a move into more urban areas, I think it’s safe to say the gold rush will continue in California.