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This is an interesting discussion on a revolutionary application of AM. I find it interesting that the company is thinking about tackling such disparate problems — on the one hand, providing a pragmatic solution to a dire, current problem on Earth versus developing a technology that may be used for space colonization many decades from now. I’m not sure that the company should focus on both given that the interested stakeholders and presumably materials/types of structures would be entirely different for these two markets. Another interesting point you bring up is around whether the technology should be proprietary or licensed– theoretically, the blueprints for these new low-cost homes could be made available to non-profits and other public agencies which would then be able to print houses at cost. This would be a tremendous boon to increasing the availability of affordable housing around the world. Very exciting!

This is a great example of a company that was not able to deploy open innovation entirely successfully. I think the democratization of ideas that comes with open innovation can lead to really interesting results, but should not be deployed without constraint. In this case, it was challenging for Quirky to deliver on both the ideation and the production/go-to-market of products. This seems too big a scope for even an established company to take on, much less a new startup. It will be interesting to see if they can grow profitably using a more limited model where their focus is on the first stages of product development.

Awesome read. The tension you explore here between GE’s position as an incumbent vs. more agile competitors is one that will become increasingly important as GE struggles to improve performance. GE may be somewhat constrained by the fact that it hasn’t traditionally focused on cutting edge innovation like machine learning, but I think it ultimately has a strong resource base in terms of technical expertise and capital. If the organization chooses to truly focus on innovation through initiatives like an in-house incubator and cross-functional teams dedicated 100% to innovation projects, it could produce results as revolutionary as those of a startup. The appetite for risk needed to succeed here is different from GE’s conservative mindset, but as long as the innovation arm of the conglomerate has significant autonomy I think it has the potential to be very effective and transformative.

Personally, I would love to have a more nuanced view of my health using a data-driven approach that is customizable. I think tying the physiological data to other types of inputs like diet, stress levels, and other user inputs could produce interesting insights. Given that the metrics WHOOP is tracking don’t seem particularly novel (there are already a myriad of wearables that track similar health metrics), I do think that the analytics side of WHOOP will be an important differentiator, if they can provide interesting ways to combine and interpret user data. It seems the company is trying to position itself as a serious medical tool rather than appealing to the more casual Fitbit type of user. To that end, I wonder if their platform is rigorous enough to merit engagement from the medical community – it will be interesting to see if doctors will actually support this tool as a way to monitor conditions like diabetes.

On November 15, 2018, MPan commented on 3D Printing Straighter Smiles :

This post was a great introduction to a business whose core product relies on additive manufacturing. It is really interesting to see how Invisalign is disrupting the traditional orthodontics/braces market, but I wonder if their first mover advantage will prove to be sustainable over time. As new players move into the space, it seems their competitive advantage will need to come from decreasing costs, since the product (a clear plastic retainer) seems quite generic to the average customer.

Furthermore, with firms like SmileClubDirect where you can do everything directly from your home, Invisalign will increasingly face stiff competition from competitors aiming to further disrupt the space. As it stands, Invisalign has a host of dentists and orthodontists that vie to become “recommended” partners, a system that seems mutually beneficial as long as Invisalign is the most highly sought after clear retainer treatment option [1]. Nevertheless, the fact that they must rely on that channel to suggest the product and work with patients means that they expose themselves to channel risk that a company going direct to consumer can avoid. This will be an interesting space to watch in the future!


Great post! In general, I really like Clover’s approach to continuous improvement and using a data driven method to test out new food concepts, which is dramatically different than the way most food establishments handle their menus (little data, mostly gut feeling). That being said, I am not sure how helpful the open innovation part of their model is other than providing a super interesting way for customers to connect with the brand. It is nice to crowd-source ideas for sandwich flavors or recipes, but does that actually materially impact the end product? I feel like this is a little bit like when Doritos challenges customers to submit a new flavor for chips and builds an ad campaign around it– ultimately more of a promotional tool rather than something that provides a competitive advantage in product development.