Melissa Serfaty

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On November 15, 2018, Melissa Serfaty commented on Open Innovation Startup Quirky Couldn’t Crowdsource Its Way to Success. :

Very interesting article ! Thank you for sharing.
Regarding your first question is too much funds the reason (or part of the reason) of their failure, I don’t believe so. My intuition regarding Quirky is that it was founded by a very charismatic leader that was able to sell a “dream”,surfing on this super trendy vague of open innovation. As puts it “Who wouldn’t love a scrappy New York City company that empowers a welder and grandfather from Larwill, Indiana, to dream up a step-on drinking fountain for dogs–and help him do the hard work of getting it designed, patented, and manufactured?”. (1)
However, I believe that the core mission of the start-up was flawed to begin with. I don’t think that the “crowd”, particularly the Quirky crowd, is a good decision maker when it comes to deciding which product to build, there are too much biases involved.
In addition, by nature their manufacturing was cheap, as such it made cheap products that were, I believe, hard to sell.
To conclude, I believe Quriky was a great example of VC biases when it comes to new innovation trends. When something becomes trendy, everyone wants to invest in it and people are biased in their analysis.

(1) What happened to Quirky,, September 15 2015

Great article ! Thank you for sharing.
It’s interesting to realize how hard it is for very large and established company to truly innovate. Unilever is definitely not the only company to innovate buy buying new successful start-up and leverage its large operations to generate economies of scale : google, Facebook and amazon do the same things.
Regarding your question, could the Foundry become a venture capital firm, I believe it could. It already has managed to build a structure that is suitable to be transformed in a VC. I think that their challenge now is to recruit the right person to run the VC fund, ideally poach someone from a VC specialized in consumer goods.

On November 14, 2018, Melissa Serfaty commented on 3D Printing Straighter Smiles :

Is this technology available in France already ?? I would love to see my orthodontic costs go down thanks to that !
Dreams aside, great article!
I totally share your point regarding maintaining a competitive advantage. I would argue that gaining market share can help them maintain competitive advantage because once orthodontists buy a product they don’t change easily, so by moving quickly and investing in its sales & marketing team Align Technology could benefit from its first mover advantage.

The second thing I would recommend is to invest in HR to maintain and/or ensure quality recruitment. Align needs to make sure it recruits the best people in the field to continue to innovate and maintain excellent product quality at an affordable price.

On November 14, 2018, Melissa Serfaty commented on Everything is Awesome: Product Innovation at LEGO :

Loved the article ! I had no idea lego was so forward thinking and innovative. I really like the idea of open source innovation however I understand your concern regarding maintaining competitive advantage.
In fact, my concern with lego from what you describe is that their main competitive advantage, product creativity, comes from open source innovation which somehow worries me because it is too easy to copy, other brands such as Mattel could easily do the same thing.
I find open innovation to be a great tool to complement a competitive advantage (as you mentionned, Apple platform) rather than it being your main competitive advantage.

It’s so interesting to learn about the impact of machine learning in education. Thank you for this great article !

It’s incredible to think about how far we can go thanks to machine learning and I completely share your recommendation for Upgrade regarding expanding the usage of AI in the learning efficacy segment. I am convinced ML can greatly improve operational efficiency and quality of learning. I however do not believe that it could fully replace a human being. In fact, I am convinced that kids need an inspirational and kind figure to give them the willingness to learn and that is something a machine will never have.

I wish I knew Chinese now to be able to use Taobao ! Thank you for this great article.
More seriously, I share your concern about the power of Alibaba (and I share similar concerns regarding of the GAFA). These companies can now decide which brands to promote, when and to whom without being controlled by any regulations.

I however do not believe these algorithm know us better than we know ourselves. On the contrary, we are seing and increasing trend of people turning away from these big companies because we realize the power that they and the value of the ‘free’ data we offer them. I believe government should step up to control these companies worldwide to limit the power they have.

On November 13, 2018, Melissa Serfaty commented on 12 Things You Didn’t Know About BuzzFeed and Machine Learning :

Amazing article ! Thank you for sharing. AI is definitely changing the content marketing world. I share your thoughts regarding the power of AI within the marketing industry. How far could it go ? AI made incredible progress in just a few years, so I am pretty convinced that we haven’t seen it all. I believe this also raises another question for Buzzfeed : how will they maintain competitive advantage ? Google for example is extremely advanced with its AI technology, also has a lot of data and content. If AI can fully replace human creativity, then Google might easily replace Buzzfeed…

On November 13, 2018, Melissa Serfaty commented on The Future at Nike: 3D printing customized shoes at home :

Great Article ! Additive manufacturing will definitely change the footwear industry. While reading your article, I thought about the impact additive manufacturing would have on pricing for Nike and its competitors. As you mentioned that they were able to replace a highly labor intensive production step in manufacturing with “automated strobel printing”, I realized that their production costs will definitely go down and so will production costs of their competitor. Will additive manufacturing make Nike shoe more affordable or will they just make a higher profit?