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This is a fascinating topic. To your question on investing in development for space vs. on Earth, in some ways this feels like the NASA debate; to what extent should we be focused on solving our current problems at hand vs. future problems and boundary-pushing exploration? In some ways, innovating for space could lead to deeper innovations that could actually help make the Earth homes more efficient or effective – i.e. shoot the moon, land among the stars (no pun intended). However, I would argue to your point that there is a more pressing need to utilize this 3D printing capability for areas on the planet that are in desperate need currently. I like your idea of expanding this technology to humanitarian organizations, particularly in emerging markets where impact could be greatest. My question then becomes how global is the idea, and how transportable across borders from a technological, people, and cultural standpoint?

On November 14, 2018, S.P. commented on Using 3D Printing to Break the Iron Triangle :

This is super interesting! What really strikes me about the use of 3D printing for large, time intensive and capital intensive projects like these is that the 3D printing enables iteration that wouldn’t otherwise be feasible. It reminds me a lot of the paradox of the marshmallow challenge from FIELD – previously, there was a lot of up front resources devoted to creating the project without much room for iteration and prototyping, whereas now they are able to do so before making the investment. Would love to know how this could be applied to other industries as well!

This summer I underwent the experience of applying for an individual life insurance policy, advised by my dad who is a broker in health insurance. I was shocked to see how antiquated the practice was. As you describe, it involved a nurse coming to my house, mailing of paperwork, mailing of checks, and an entirely unautomated system. I am thankful to hear that insurance companies are starting to narrow this technology gap! To your question of the role of human advisors in insurance – I believe that most of the administrative tasks will be replaced by machine learning technology. However, what cannot be replaced is the empathy required to enroll an individual in a life insurance policy – at the end of the day, what this policy is covering is the monetary value of your life, which I would venture to say most humans would rather have that be a conversation than a number provided by a computer. The deeply personal element of the industry will require the human interaction and empathy of humans, but can be improved dramatically in quality of experience by these newer companies. Thanks so much for posting!

You pose some interesting questions. I completely agree that Unilever missed an opportunity by not only acquiring but also looking at this disruptive DTC ecosystem as a chance to start incubating and protecting themselves from the risk of these disruptive companies. In the food and beverage space, KraftHeinz just launched a venture this year called Springboard which aims to achieve just this – it is an internal incubator that nurtures both external small and promising startups, as well as new internal small brands. The objective is to help balance their brand portfolio to compete within the natural food space that is trending within the industry. I think Unilever could definitely benefit from a similar program and has the resources to do so.

On November 12, 2018, S.P. commented on Smarter e-shopping with The North Face and Watson :

Regarding your second question, I see tradeoffs for both options but ultimately I don’t think TNF should expand the technology into other retail partners – while expanding the technology to retail partners could help TNF increase their data inputs and potentially help diminish the “echo chamber” risk, I worry that expanding too soon could have two detrimental effects. One, if the technology is expanded before the bugs have been worked out, the technology could have the opposite of the intended effect by frustrating both customers and retail partners alike. Second, in the case that TNF manages to optimize the technology, having it on their own website and not on retailers would enable them to have a unique competitive advantage, driving on site sales, which could help drive a hugely profitable channel.

I completely agree that listening to and discovering music is still a deeply personal experience. To address your second question, I wonder if Spotify would benefit by enhancing the social features of its platform. I am not a Spotify user myself, but I could imagine that they could try to replicate the social aspect of discovering music by linking your Spotify profile to your Facebook profile, and sending recommendations of songs to your friends via a messaging platform within the app. Alternatively, you could see what your “friends” are listening to at any given moment. Perhaps some of these features exist to a degree, but I do think there is a bit of “magic” to making the experience more human and personal.

On November 12, 2018, S.P. commented on Hinge and Machine Learning: The makings of a perfect match :

To your first question regarding whether or not this is a sustainable competitive advantage, I do think it is a valuable one. However, if it proves extremely successful, the competitive advantage may be at risk as competitors seek to imitate it. One idea for how Hinge could seek to make this advantage more sustainable is to leverage the AI technology to help match in other capacities beyond the romantic. Bumble has begun matching not only romantic partners but also business partners in a networking-style matching concept, as well as friends. Hinge may want to consider diversifying the services offered in a similar way to sustain their edge.

Extremely interesting topic- from a consumer perspective, after purchasing 23andMe I remember feeling similar privacy concerns. It will be interesting to see how this industry becomes regulated, and whether or not the access to customer genomes will continue to be proprietary to 23andMe or whether customers should be concerned about the company selling off data to other institutions. For example, would this information ever be subject to usage for criminal investigations? I personally feel the consumer benefit still outweighs these types of concerns, but I also understand the skeptics who question whether this company was founded with the genuine intention to help people understand their genetics or whether it is a part of a larger scheme to crowdsource genetics for their own purposes.

Totally agree! It’s absolutely genius, and I have the same questions… would love to get a better sense of how consumer input is used. Either way, as a consumer hearing about it for the first time I was impressed and excited with the potential impact I could have.