Thank you for sharing this service. I really enjoyed reading your article and finding out about this company – coincidentally, some friends have launched a similar company in Brazil.
In regards to Filld, I confess I´m a bit skeptical about its growth potential as well as its business economics. I´ve done a few back of the envelope calculations:
Assuming (being extremely optimistic) that a truck will take 10 minutes to arrive at the customer location, and will take 5 more minutes to fuel, a single truck´s capacity will be limited to 4 customers/hour.
I understood that Filld has two main revenue streams:
(1) Fixed fee. If Fiild charged $5 per service, this would mean a revenue of 4 services * $5 fee = $20/hour.
(2) Margin. Because of its margin from sourcing gas from wholesalers and selling gas by nearby market prices, I´ll assume that Filld makes 10% out of the total gas sold, which per hour would be: 4 services * $20 average cost of gas fueled * 10% margin = $8/hour
That said, Filld would be generating an hour gross margin of $28 in a very optimistic scenario.
On the cost side, there´s truck driver salary, insurance costs, truck investment, platform development cost, and so on. Not counting all the risks that were very well described through the article, such as regulatory and competition.
That being said, unless the company changes its business model to provide more car–related services such as car washing, oil changing, etc, it´s very hard to believe that Filld will be successful. As a benchmark, I suggest taking a look at this startup a couple of friends have launched in Brazil: it´s called Easycarros[i] and it basically provides several car-related services through an app. Very similar to what Filld is trying to do, but instead of fueling, they focus on other services like car washing.
What I like the most about OpenEnglish is its scalability. By using the same platform and professors, OpenEnglish launched its services in several countries in Latin America within a few months difference, leveraging on a huge first-mover advantage. The “old” teaching model is indeed inefficient and OpenEnglish has been successfully addressing some of these opportunities, however, I wonder how the company will differentiate itself from other lower-cost competitors, such as Duolingo.
OpenEnglish has a model that still heavily relies on the quality of professors, and the consequence of that is threefold:
(1) it´s difficult to assess how good/bad is a professor, as most of the clients tend to rate a professor based on his or her personal skills and not necessarily on teaching skills;
(2) there´s a global shortage of good English professors compared to the high demand of such services, leading to a limited capacity;
(3) it´s complex to improve the quality of the services/class without clear measures of improvement and best-practices sharing.
Duolingo, on the other hand, has been leveraging on technology and auto-learning to test and find out the best ways for people to learn languages.[i] Also, as it has been partnering with schools to implement customized services to reach a broader audience.[ii]
So far OpenEnglish has been doing a great job by increasing the awareness of the need of learning English and by providing a more affordable high-quality option for the population, however, I´m concerned about how the company will innovate itself to maintain its current position as market leader moving forward.
Jon, thanks for introducing me this amazing service. I had no idea these types of services even existed, and now I imagine how much value it can bring to low-income level daycare services, especially in emerging countries in which you have absolutely no visibility of what´s going on. In Brazilian public daycare facilities, for instance, there are not even reports of what your child has done during the day. I´ve just done a quick research to check whether similar services were available in Rio and São Paulo and apparently there´s nothing – that´s a huge opportunity!
Moving forward, a couple of potential opportunities to grow LCG have come to my mind.
(1) Leverage on Social Media to advertise their products. Parents usually post/share several different stories about their children on the internet, and this can be a big opportunity to advertise the daycare facility and bring more consumers.
(2) Earn public press media by sharing how safer and happier parents are. Parents now know better how to continue activities with their children when they get home feel more part of the school activities too.[i] By sharing these stories, LCG is likely to earn “free” media and reach a broader audience.
Felipe, thanks for sharing this service – I´d love to try it out but, unfortunately, its not available in Brazil yet. I completely agree when you mention that there are huge inefficiencies in the FinTech industry and by exposing these opportunities, more competitors are encouraged to entry. Including, that´s exactly what´s happening at this moment – Startups such as Transferwise, WorldRemit, Azimo and TransferGo are all focusing on low-cost, quick international transfers.[i]
Transferwise, specifically, has been maintaining low costs by matching senders from two countries with similar transfer amounts. By doing that, they reduce their international transfer costs and therefore charge lower rates to their clients.[ii] TransferGo, on the other hand, has been focusing on guaranteeing next-day transfers by working primarily in the Euro zone.
I wonder how Remitly will differentiate itself from these well-funded competitors that are expanding aggressively and keeping lower prices. Is this a one player global industry? Will Remitly build a strong network in Mexico and other countries in Latin America before more competitors come? Will new partnerships really reduce the cost of transaction processing? As an international student and potential Remitly consumer, I´m curious to see how this industry, especially in Latin America, will develop in the future.
Sujay, I think all Ski Resorts are in a very difficult position today, as climate changes only tend to get worse and none of the Resorts have found out a solution to overcome global warming effects. I agree with all short-term initiatives you mentioned, such as offering other amenities at the resort and creating new revenue streams in off-peak season, however, in my opinion Resorts should be taking a more long-term approach.
After walking through several articles about this topic, it becomes clear that there are private entities (mostly resorts and winter sports-related companies) trying to come up with their own solutions, but no consolidated, integrated approach from governments, which are essential for fighting a major issue such as global warming. Without authority´s involvement and additional incentives, it´s very hard for a medium-size resort such as Killington Ski Resort to overcome rising temperatures alone.
My suggestion here, then, would be:
(1) for resorts (including Killington) to associate between themselves and decide how they are going to address the lack of government involvement
(2) pressure authorities to take a more active role, by either lobbying or leveraging on public press
(3) come up with a plan for both resorts and companies to minimize their greenhouse emissions
(4) invest in R&D to develop higher quality “fake snow” to be used across resorts, as many Canadian resorts have been doing recently[i]
Obviously these recommendations need to be further developed into an action plan, but I really think that without a more active role from government, the role ski industry will be in danger.
I totally agree that the airline industry has been more and more relevant to climate changes, both impacting (the industry is responsible for 6% of all GHG emissions) and being impacted (increase in suppliers´ cost, for instance) by these changes. Boeing, specifically, will play an extremely important role as the industry leader, together with Airbus. The changes these two companies implement in their production processes will directly affect global warming, so investment in R&D is paramount to address upcoming challenges.
What concerns me, though, is (1) how these two companies may or may not address challenges differently and (2) how other entities may incentivize or disicentivize developments in the sector.
(1) Boeing and Airbus should set the common ground strategy together. What would be the impact, for instance, if Airbus focuses on keeping costs low in the expense of higher emissions? What about selling airplanes to companies from different countries, where there are different government sustainability incentives and standards (e.g Germany vs. Ethiopia)? Although the world is moving to a more sustainable-focused direction, we´re far from getting into a consensus. One company´s decision will impact the whole sector, so instead of having completely different approaches to climate changes, it´s the role of Airbus and Boeing to talk and decide how the industry as a whole will move forward in regards to sustainability.
(2) Different parties such as government regulation and international treaties have a high impact on Boeing´s P&L bottom line and therefore investment decisions. For instance, is forcing Boeing to purchase credits to offset their emissions from commercial flights the right decision? I tend to think it´s not. It could be much more long-term valuable to Boeing and the industry itself if Boeing commits to invest capital to develop new sustainable processes and materials, instead of buying credit emissions.I think we need a more in-depth discussion about whether or not forcing companies to buy credits is the best solution, as in my opinion regarding airline sector, it seems it´s not.
What I like the most about Starbucks is that it´s one of the very few companies actually getting involved and working into long-term solutions for the coffee industry, not only into short-term quick fixes. I have seen several cases in which companies are setting long-term contracts, hedging trading of coffee futures, buying a higher quantity of coffee to minimize lower-yield risks and so on, however, all these initiatives are limited if temperature keeps increasing.
As a heavy coffee drinker myself (average of 4 espressos per day), the impact of climate changes in the coffee industry really concerns me. I have personally invested some time researching long-term possible solutions to minimize the rising temperature´s negative effect and I´d like to add a few points to your recommendation:
1) Mitigate supply risk by diversifying producers
It´s a good solution, indeed. I would also add Indonesia and India in the list, the 4th and 6th largest Arabica producers in the world. However, this is still a short-term fix, as basically all the regions in the world are being impacted by global warming and we can expect lower yield in pretty much all these countries by 2050[i]. Therefore, I´d also implement this initiative, as the article suggest, but would have in mind that this solution alone is not going to solve any longstanding issue.
2) Drive further product innovation through R&D
This, in my opinion, is what will either solve the big picture coffee industry issue or not. I like the strategy of distributing more resistant coffee beans to producers to help them achieve high-yield crops, as ultimately Starbucks depend on these farmers.
I´d actually double down in this strategy, perhaps partnering with other entities from the sector – for instance, wholesalers and big producers, to increase investment. I´d also invest a part of the budget in developing Robusta beans, as they are more heat and pest resistant. Although Robusta beans don´t have a rich flavour and aroma as Arabica beans do, Robusta are cheaper and easier to produce.
You recognize a valid point, Graham – consultants will play a major role in climate change adaptions. It reminds me a huge crisis my country faced a few years ago, where companies had to urgently decrease costs – in this case, consultants were also of huge value, as they had an unbiased view and high-capable employees to help companies analyze and optimize their fixed costs, such as rent, travel and utilities expenses. In regards to sustainability, I completely agree that consultancy companies´ external view and highly skilled employees will not only help clients to come up with new approaches and solutions to their climate changes´ problems, but also will later on apply these same solutions across industries, being paramount to minimize global warming effects.
A couple of challenges from your approach comes to my mind:
– Talent: I believe hiring SMEs will be a huge challenge, as firstly, there are not too many, and secondly, these are usually extremely passionate professionals who not necessarily match the consultancy lifestyle. Obviously, you can always raise salaries and add perks, but this could ultimately impact Deloitte´s culture in the long-term. Here, I´d have a slightly different approach: develop talent internally, either through training or working with clients to, together, develop ad-hoc solutions.
– Preparing Thought Eminence: I love the idea of researching, but I think there´s a huge first-move advantage in the field. Today, none of the MBB nor big 4 consultancy companies are a reference in the sustainability sector. That said, I´d rather focus on the clients in which Deloitte has already a good relationship and try to sell sustainability projects there. Based on these projects, then, publish articles related to the topic and try to create a brand for this type of projects, for instance, Sustainability by Deloitte.
I really liked your article, Shantanu. As a big fan of snowboarding, I´ve noted at firsthand how snow quality has worsened over time in the past few years. I totally agree with you when you say the current initiatives are short-term fixes – most of the resorts and entities affected by global warming in the Alps are working on the symptoms, not on the causes of such warming.
A major challenge, in my opinion, will be for these companies and entities to ensure local authorities are onboarded and will prioritize this issue. I agree that an international treaty to discuss best-practices and to come up with goals will help the community to better understand the real causes, but without local authorities´ involvement, execution will be limited. At the end of the day, without budget and authority involvement, the required infrastructure to implement sustainable heating, transport and land planning will not be prioritized over other local issues, such as security and health.
A good benchmark to solve this issue is how some ski resorts in US are even working with Obama administration to minimize coal leasing expansion on Department of Interior Land: https://www.outsideonline.com/1930841/how-ski-resorts-are-fighting-climate-change
I really hope these issues are properly addressed by the authorities in the following years, so all of us can keep enjoying snowboarding and high-quality snow in the future.