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On November 20, 2016, RM commented on Hello, “Hello Tractor”! :

Interesting post! I see many similarities in the farmer situation in Nigeria and India. The agricultural sector in India constitutes a significant share of the economy (~17%). Hello Tractor’s solution can greatly benefit the Indian farmer too, who is burdened with many similar problems you outlined.

I was curious if you came across how this company could build a tractor with so many added features at such a low price – a $36,000 reduction is quite substantial! Did they use a different and highly advanced manufacturing technology? Additionally, do you think farmers in Nigeria can afford a $4,000 tractor, assuming they don’t get a loan? What would the approximate annual maintenance costs be? Lower than that for normal tractors?

I truly hope Hello Tractor can scale their product across Nigeria, even to other parts of the world, where such innovations are much required to meet global food needs.

On November 20, 2016, RM commented on Digital News and The Washington Post :

Great read! I was quite baffled when I heard of Jeff Bezos’s acquisition of The Washington Post. But as you pointed out, building a large reader base, getting them hooked onto free digital subscriptions and then charging a small fee in the future may make the entire venture hugely profitable. In order to do so, the Post would (and it seems they are) have to keep improving the quality of content provided, striving to become the undisputed leader in this space. Only then will customers continue reading the free articles available in the Post, in a sustainable manner.

I also believe there is a conflict of interest in this case, as has been pointed out by others. While there are PR benefits, I think there is limited upside for Amazon. Its services have revolutionized e-commerce globally and customers see Amazon for the high quality of products and services it offers.

Also, there could be serious privacy concerns if the plan is to share subscriber data with other organizations in the future. I would be curious to know your thoughts on this. Is this a legitimate concern? Do you think any potential backlash by subscribers will make the Post drop such a plan?

On November 20, 2016, RM commented on Macy’s: A Beacon of Technology :

Interesting post! I had never heard or experienced beacon technology being deployed at a retail store. This has the potential to transform the in-store experience for the customer, as you correctly pointed out.

Beacon technology, if implemented well, can bolster Macy’s operating model (especially if it’s one of the first retailers to do so). For Macy’s, this technology can help push and cross-sell products by making customers aware of promotions available at various sections in the store. I think perhaps customers may take time to adapt to this technology as it can come across as too invasive. Acceptability may improve if other retailers follow suit too.

While this is an innovative means of strengthening customer loyalty, I’m curious to know the impact of e-commerce on Macy’s sales. Has the retail chain undertaken any strategic digital initiatives to counter players like Amazon? Has there been any move to improve its value proposition to retain or grow market share?

On November 20, 2016, RM commented on Starbucks, mobile payments underdog, takes gold :

This is news to me. As a loyal Starbucks coffee drinker, I wasn’t aware of the ability to make mobile payments. I will definitely download the app and make use of it next time I buy a Starbucks coffee!

I completely agree with your proposition – the main reason for the success of mobile payments at Starbucks is its fully integrated app, linking payments to rewards and gift cards. This is also convenient for time sensitive ‘grab and go’ customers. To increase traction and get more customers to use mobile payments, I think Starbucks should promote it more. Customers may be unaware of mobile payments (just like I was!). Once awareness increases, I’m sure it will ‘stick’ with customers.

Also, given the minimal usage of Android Pay and Apple Pay, I don’t think Starbucks needs to license its app at this point. However, if other forms of mobile payments become popular, it may need to reconsider but at the same time maintain its edge of a fully integrated platform for its customers.

On November 20, 2016, RM commented on Skootar: Transforming the Messenger Service in Bangkok :

Interesting post! I, myself, have been a victim of the traffic problems in Bangkok, having got stuck for hours on end, when visiting the city as a tourist. Kamolprudh certainly seems to have come up with an innovative solution – an ‘Uberization’ of a variety of services – to help clients solve this problem. As you mentioned, Skootar benefits from a first mover advantage. It would be interesting to know what the company plans to do to sustain this advantage. Is there any particular aspect of their customer service – trust, reliability, speed etc – which builds customer loyalty and can be leveraged to acquire new customers? Seeing the traction Skootar has received, many competitors may enter the same space. What do you think is Skootar’s key differentiator for its customers? As we often discuss in class, what is its edge?

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

Interesting topic!

I must admit I enjoy eating fast food occasionally, particularly the offerings of Burger King. I’m disappointed to see this global brand has chosen to ignore sustainable practices, which are the need of the hour. Given the power of the brand, it seems unlikely that a significant number of consumers will boycott Burger King for its lack of sustainable sourcing. As you’ve mentioned, McDonalds is doing much more to practice sustainability in its business. If several other global fast food chains are doing the same, perhaps they can work with governments across the world to institute laws to mandate sustainable sourcing. This would force Burger King and other such chains to limit the impact of their businesses on the environment and coerce them into implementing sustainable practices.

On November 7, 2016, Rahil commented on Coral Bleaching Threatens Luxury Travel Company :

Super interesting post Paige! Kuoni is clearly doing extensive work in monitoring coral bleaching which is important in measuring the impact of climate change over time.

I came across the Australian government’s plan to combat coral bleaching (1). Given the interest of tourists in visiting environmentally friendly destinations, Kuoni could perhaps partner with the Australian government to launch initiatives in which tourists could be active participants. The plan encourages “reef users” to work towards protecting the Great Barrier Reef. In this way, Kuoni could target environmentally conscious tourists and at the same time contribute to preserving the rich biodiversity and beauty of coral reefs in Australia. It would be great to hear your thoughts on this!


An avid consumer of chocolate, I am intrigued by the way Mars is investing in long term initiatives to combat the risks of climate change to the cocoa industry. I’m curious to know if there were any initial health concerns in using the artificially created coca genome for mass production of chocolate? Also, have Mars and other companies begun using the genome to produce cocoa?

Additionally, since the company is dependent on West Africa for most of their cocoa supplies, perhaps they can invest in an exploration project to determine if other regions in the world can be developed for cocoa production, using the cocoa genome. This, in combination with their initiative to improve crop yield, can perhaps further reduce the risks of climate change. Would be interesting to hear your views on this!

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

Great read! Having lived in India for over 20 years, I didn’t know the severity of the impact of climate change on the milk industry in India. I would be curious to learn how the cooperatives intend to improve pasteurization and logistics? What kind of technology improvement are they considering? How much would this cost and is it viable? My guess is that in order to implement this on a large scale, the cooperatives would probably need access to significant upfront capital. Perhaps, groups of cooperatives in the same area can work together in this regard to jointly test and scale these initiatives.

Very interesting post! One of the images in your post rings a bell. I remember reading about how the government of the Maldives decided to hold a cabinet meeting underwater to raise awareness and bring much needed attention to the gravity of the problem! I agree with you that the measures which have been taken are only short-term. Building seawalls can probably be scaled to protect the nation’s inhabitants when sea levels rise to dangerous levels. However, this would destroy the natural beauty of the islands and could even be detrimental to the biodiversity.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on long term measures you think should be taken. Considering the Maldives is a relatively small nation, it probably doesn’t have the ‘political clout’ to bring mass attention to the problem. Perhaps, the Maldives government can work with governments of neighboring countries in South Asia to support its cause at global climate change forums?

I’ve never been to the Maldives but it’s on my bucket list! I hope it’s not too late to experience the picturesque offerings of this archipelago.