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On November 20, 2016, Rashi commented on Digitization Gets Cooking in the Restaurant Industry :

Great post Pasha- love all the play on words! One of the challenges I see with online review websites is that they are very susceptible to fake reviews. In recent times, there have been several cases of restaurant staff writing good reviews for themselves – I wonder if these sites could build in some checks into their system to test the authenticity of reviews. Another problem is when a single reviewer who may have had a bad experience goes off on a really long rant to tarnish the image of the restaurant- who’s to say if it was actually the restaurant’s fault. These websites put a disproportionate amount of power in the hands of the customers, which is scary and could force restaurants to do things like paying Yelp to make bad reviews go away.

I do agree that restaurants have no option, but to embrace this digital era. There are so many other websites that sell ‘set menu experiences’ at restaurants and coupon websites that offer discounts at restaurants, and I think restaurants need to get on board quickly and build strong partnerships and revenue sharing models to take advantage of these opportunities.

On November 20, 2016, Rashi commented on Can Aaptiv Digitalize the Boutique Fitness Experience? :

Great article! I lost 50 pounds at a stage in my life – so fitness is something that I am deeply passionate about. While there is a proliferation of digital fitness apps, I often wonder if they can ever substitute a real fitness trainer. One wrong move and you have pulled a muscle and sometimes you don’t even realize it! I truly believe that apps such as Apptiv need to be at least initially supplemented by personal trainers who can customize a workout based on your stamina, your body type, and progress.

I use the Kayla workout app myself and my concern just like yours is that Apptiv doesn’t have a strong brand value yet and is likely to get lost in a sea of similar apps, some started by celebrity trainers, which frankly I would pick over Apptiv.

I think Apptiv is good for people who are experts, have been working out for long and need to change it up everyday while being aware of how their body responds, but it could be risky for someone just starting out. I do love the music feature and will sign up for Apptiv as a supplement to my workout routine.

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

Great article Elyse! I had once used a similar service for my grandmother- putting pills in different slots with days mentioned on each slot. Unfortunately, it didn’t work at all because this system assumes that the patient will remember that they have to take tablets and will then be unable to figure out which ones to take and how many. She still needed a person to remind her and give her the adequate dose. I think this idea has tremendous potential, I only wonder how this could be extended to serve older patients who probably need pre-sorted pills the most! I am also not sure about patenting the ‘filling prescription’ part of the business, as we discussed in marketing it feels a bit ‘icky’ to patent something so critical to better healthcare in the future. I completely agree with one of the posts above that this system requires the users to place a huge amount of trust in the system, and it requires a major shift in mentality- I check the name on my pills at least 3 times before I take them! I would also be worried about potential psychological impact- for instance, I can see a case, where a patient thinks he is reacting poorly to a pill and blames PillPack for it. Worse would be if a patient actually reacts poorly to a pill and blames PillPack for it.

Thanks for writing such an interesting post Emma! Sometimes, it is hard for me to imagine how going digital could enable companies to completely change the way customers interact with an industry by setting new benchmarks. While I appreciate Caroline’s comment on Miniluxe’s hygiene standards, I do think, it is only a matter of time before every nail company starts using data to improve customer service and achieve operating efficiency.

I do also wonder what the cost-benefit analysis of substantial investment in digital technology looks like for Miniluxe because a lot of nail salons have identified the challenges of idle employees and inconsistent customer traffic, and they have designed ways to deal with the uncertainty. For instance, there are so many parlors that run only on prior appointments, that have walk-ins only during weekends, that offer multiple services and cross-train workers to ensure higher utilization.

I do love the idea of rating technicians, but honestly, I would just ‘yelp’ it instead of downloading a miniluxe app, and if I know who I want to get a manicure with – either based on past experience or yelp reviews, I will just call and book. Maybe, Miniluxe could look at ways in which it could integrate its existing reviews online with a booking system. It could also add a fashion element to its online presence and talk about latest trends in nail polish colors or what new nail art designs are in vogue.

I do understand why a dynamic pricing model could add value, but I don’t think the typical consumer is ready yet to deal with dynamic pricing in manicures and pedicures- I, along with several of my friends, have a budget for these things and like going to a place where the prices are stable with limited add-on charges for new colors and patterns.

Overall, I think it is a great business model, but Miniluxe will have to move fast to truly make digital a business tool rather than a cool technology initiative and establish a long-term competitive advantage.

This is such an incredible project- thank you for sharing it! As someone who has spent some time mapping out the sex trafficking process in India, I think this is a highly ignored and poorly funded global problem. My work also led me to the development of the first sex trafficking hotline in India. Some of the challenges we encountered in running a hotline for such a delicate issue are as follows:

-Having a hotline for trafficking, though a great idea in theory, is often challenging in execution because:
-Most trafficking cases start out as kidnapping of underage girls, most victims (at least in the developing world) know their traffickers, which means at first they have no idea that they are being trafficked and do not seek help and people around them do not suspect any wrongdoing
– Traffickers usually take the victims across the country to regions that they are completely unfamiliar with and in some cases, do not even know the local language of, which makes it very hard for the victim to seek help
– Worst of all, the victim is ‘broken in’ (raped) several times from the point where she is picked up until she reaches the final destination, which kills any hope to use a hotline by herself
-As mentioned in one of the comments above, offering help to adult victims gets tricky because of the idea of consent
-There is poor awareness of a ‘sex trafficking helplines’ among victims, so they often end up calling 911 or equivalent helplines, which are not trained to handle these calls and do not respond rapidly enough- and sometimes the girl never gets to call back
-Even though hotlines help identify trends, as you rightfully mentioned, unless the police gets on board, it is very difficult to break these networks. In fact, in several places these networks are run by the mafia and the police is often complicit in them.

As you mentioned, getting all of the stakeholders together, consolidating disparate hotlines, speedy responses, cracking down on patterns, and educating people on the signs of trafficking (because it is so hard to tell) are key starting points for a digital solution.

On November 7, 2016, Rashi commented on … Still Got Milk? :

Good Read. I think while the rising temperatures is a key reason affecting the Indian milk supply- there are numerous other factors that should be addressed first to improve yields- predominantly the quality of breeding and care for these animals, which is not the best amongst these small independent milk producers. These producers also have lower incentive to invest in better care, since several of them are squeezed out of the business by large corporations who have started to sell highly processed and often times fortified milk. Quality control is also a major issue that farmers face resulting in milk spoiling a lot more quickly. So while I agree that rising temperatures is a major issue that needs to be addressed in the long run, in the short run we could try to streamline processes first.

On November 7, 2016, Rashi commented on Change the game :

I completely agree that Nike has the potential to make caring for sustainability ‘cool’. There is an entire demographic of the younger population who is already more environmentally conscious and Nike is in the powerful position of shaping their thoughts on sustainability through its campaigns and products. Unfortunately, what I see Nike as right now in popular media (TV ads and print) is largely a performance driven company used by various star athletes- it’s community focus is strong in its ads, I would really like to see it focus more explicitly on how sustainability is absolutely core to their business and get a conversation started not just among its fan, but the players, coaches, sponsors etc.

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

I absolutely love the topic of the post- an often taboo topic and a sector that suffers from complete lack of innovation. I did a little work on the menstrual hygiene sector and one of the alternatives that is really gaining traction is just plain cloth! It is surprising, but people are willing to go back to the basics, especially after an increased incidence of irritation from using plastic sanitary napkins. Cloth is not only the environmentally sustainable option, in the developing world, it is also readily available. Cotton cloth if washed with soap and dried in the sun is makes a perfect sanitary napkin for a large part of the developing world. The West is also really into beautiful resusable cloth pads. I would encourage you to look at Ecofemme: https://ecofemme.org/

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

I enjoyed the reading the article and can totally see how Burger King has so much to do, especially when compared to McDonalds. However, a lot of what we think it should do may not necessarily make business sense. For instance: I don’t think as a restaurant that attracts customers for its burgers should start pushing healthier options- it is unapologetically a fast food chain with large sized fries and sodas- that is its value proposition. I agree that they really need to start being more sustainable in their sourcing but I do not agree that customers necessarily think of sustainability when they are picking between fast food chains- Now this is an opportunity for McDonalds to educate the customer about why sustainable sourcing is better for them and the environment, which will put pressure on Burger King to think more seriously about its practices. A lot of these supply chains are hard to alter, instead of switching to sustainable sources, are there ways in which Burger King can extend its sustainability practices to its suppliers and hence lead a value chain move towards sustainability?

On November 7, 2016, Rashi commented on Can Volvo Out-Innovate the Competition Again? :

Loved the article. I wrote about Tata and briefly touched upon Tata Motors and their sustainability policies. In fact, it is very interesting for me to see that Volvo has clearly gone beyond just complying with the regulations, but has actually made sustainability a core part of its business strategy by proactively setting climate change targets and shifting its customer value proposition to more fuel efficient cars. This blog reminds me of one of a Tata example that I didn’t include in my post: One of Tata’s recent eco-friendly product launches have been controversial such as the $1,000 Tata Nano which is more fuel efficient than most cars in India, but because it is so cheap, environmentalists fear that it will substantially add traffic to the already congested Indian roads.
I agree with your point on introducing the sustainability initiatives in the supply chain and measure the footprint of its process across the entire value chain. I truly believe that we need champions in various industries to lead by example and educate all of the stakeholders they interact with to adopt these measures.
I think a lesson here is also that if you think about sustainability, you will also be able to serve your customer better- in this case understanding what the customer actually needed and how he/she interacted with Volvo cars not only helped with sustainability design, but also helped the company build a ‘better’ car for its customers.