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On December 13, 2015, Sarah commented on Maple: A Restaurant without a Restaurant :

Devon – Interesting post. I think Maple is a really interesting idea, and actually have a friend who has worked there.

One thing I’ve wondered is how scalable the concept is. To me, the biggest risk is what happens if demand is to grow faster than supply. This isn’t the type of business that can deal with a back log, particularly given that part of their value proposition is the 30 minute delivery guarantee. I imagine that Maple is constrained by their kitchen size and staff, so should demand grow faster than the business is able to scale, they could lose credibility fast. Furthermore, this business will only be able to serve a growing consumer base as fast as they can pick up retail in Manhattan. Once they’re at capacity at a given store, the only next step is for them to open a new physical unit in one of the US’s most expensive cities.

Do you think Maple is a feasible concept outside of Manhattan? What do you imagine their growth proposition will be after NYC?

On December 5, 2015, Sarah commented on Bonobos: A Better Fitting Model for a Better Fitting Pant :

Hi Niha – Yes the pricing strategy is something I didn’t discuss here but it’s actually really interesting in that its the opposite of dynamic pricing. It seems like some customers actually just prefer a very simple model where they can walk into the store knowing what to expect on pricing. Traditionally the expectation is that retailers rely on sales seasons/promotions to drive much of their traffic.

On December 2, 2015, Sarah commented on Dirt Cheap: Extreme Value Retail :

Given the miscellaneous nature of the inventory sources, I am surprised that Dirt Cheap is able to maintain such low costs throughout the process of procurement to retail sale. In particular, I would think that Dirt Cheap would have high expenses related to sorting through returned items – and then potentially fixing those unusable items. You mention that their supply chain is set up to handle inventories that other retailers can’t handle, and I’m surprised that doesn’t raise costs across the board. I’d be really curious to get a glimpse at their supply chain and see what they’re doing that a Walmart or a Target is unable to incorporate into their operations.

The idea of repurposing expired/unusable inventory reminds me of a business model that Doug Rauch, CEO of Trader Joes, has incorporated into the business. Check it out:
I wonder if retail businesses will one day decide to bring this type of operation (repurposing “bad” inventory) in house, the way Trader Joe’s is doing.

On December 2, 2015, Sarah commented on Skillshare: The Future Belongs to the Curious :

I am super impressed with this business and had never heard of it before. While I ready the first part, I was worried about how the site would be able to incentivize quality teachers (who likely have other professions that they’re earning money in) to join the platform, but the revenue share payout system is genius.

Why are there such a large portion of students who are not paying subscribers (as indicated in your last paragraph?) Is there some sort of promotional period that Skillshare uses to get them to become paid subscribers? If only 6% of the 1mm students are paying, there’s a lot of revenue being left on the table, it seems.

Do you think this will take share from the MOOC’s or is there still a place for those businesses?

Great post, Annie! One thing that I have noticed about traveling with JetBlue is that when you call the service line for support, you are immediately put in touch with a person as opposed to all other airlines, which usually connect you to an automated system for at least a few minutes. I wonder how this translates into the company’s cost, and how they made that decision to take on that additional expense, and how efficient it is from an operational standpoint. Why do other planes not utilize the back to front boarding process? How does the Jetblue model compare to Southwest, which is known to exhibit similar efficiencies?