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On December 1, 2017, USCA commented on The Emergence of Off the Grid Agriculture :

Excellent article, MZ! As you and Karmsolar have both identified, solar and alternative irrigation systems appear to make tremendous sense in Egypt from a natural resources perspective. I think Karmsolar’s decision to vertically integrate not only improves its value proposition to customers, but also provides cost-saving opportunities from a transportation and energy storage perspective. I am concerned about wide-scale customer adoption of Karmsolar as an alternative, especially given the up-front costs that you mention associated with solar energy. To improve the dissemination of its product, I think Karmsolar should continue to forge larger-scale client relationships, as it has recently with Dakahlia Group ( As OhianiD commented, I think the signaling affects from large, trusted companies will improve the government perception of solar as well as the customer adoption rate in Egypt.

On December 1, 2017, USCA commented on Defending a Global Business Model in Turbulent Times :

Great article, Nicolas. I see talent acquisition as an important priority for Microsoft in terms of maintaining a global perspective and continuing to deliver on its customer promise, which as you highlight, is global in nature. Similar to the comments made above, I also believe that utilizing a public platform and voice as large as that of Microsoft’s to take a stance on issues that will have major business and social implications is a responsibility of large corporations. Additionally, I think that considering alternative solutions to a typical work-force and workday could be an advantageous strategy not simply as a means of providing a solution to isolationist policies, but also as a competitive advantage against other technology companies, particularly as the trend of working remotely and in a flexible environment becomes increasingly important to employees ( With regard to Microsoft’s businesses abroad, I agree with TOM’s comment that from a technology standpoint, I am concerned with how isolationism will affect Microsoft’s business with regards to privacy. As the world becomes increasingly focused on protecting data, and potentially, as you note, more suspicious of global players, I could imagine it becoming difficult for foreign companies to remain in certain markets. Additionally, without aligned perspectives on privacy or the support of a local government, Microsoft may be unable to deliver on its customer promise or maintain the level of security necessary for its data-related services. While the Trump administration is working to add language to NAFTA around the trade of data, until this is formalized, Microsoft should think critically before expanding into certain markets in the short or medium-term beyond its current operations abroad (

On December 1, 2017, USCA commented on Content Globalization – A Script for Success? :

Great article, David! I agree with the risks highlighted in Michal’s comment related to engaging in negotiations for partnerships with the government as well as local service providers. I similarly am concerned with the leverage that Neflix’s counterparties will have in these negotiations and how this may require Neflix to make unprecedented compromises (potentially affecting future negotiations and profit). I am equally concerned about the time-intensive nature of these negotiations, particularly given that the first-mover advantage appears to be significant for this business. However, despite these challenges, I believe that Neflix should move forward in these markets, especially as Neflix’s international growth surpasses its domestic growth ( I think how Netflix approaches content globalization will depend on its value proposition and priorities as a company. For example, if Netflix values speed-to-market and competitive advantage most, I am of the belief that they should move forward on a proactive partnership strategy, as you mention, to shorten the negotiation process. If Netflix perceives its content as its advantage, I would advise them to collaborate with competitors on a strategy for negotiating in international markets, so as to split associated costs, gain back leverage, and potentially avoid establishing partnerships.

Great article! This essay did a wonderful job at analyzing how Gotham Greens is not only addressing the impact of climate change on crop yields and the general predictability of the supply of produce, but also improving the speed-to-market by developing a local strategy. While I agree that a partnership with Whole Foods speaks to the promise of the company from both the retailer’s perspective as well as that of the consumer, I am concerned with the costs associated with this model. Are the cost savings for the retailer (i.e. minimizing spoilage, extending the life of produce in-store, reducing transportation time and spend) enough to command a premium against more traditional agriculture? Furthermore, can Gotham Greens expand in a cost-effective manner (i.e. identifying feasible real estate) and does this model work once it is expanded outside of urban centers? Assuming the company can expand efficiently, I think you are correct in stating the importance of Gotham developing partnerships beyond traditional grocery stores (especially outside of the higher-end market). If Gotham fails to secure its place in the market as an early mover in this space, I fear the company, as you highlight, will face steep competition and that Gotham Greens’ current competitive advantage will ultimately make it an attractive piece of the supply chain for retailers to take in-house.

On November 28, 2017, USCA commented on Coca-Cola’s Vending Machines Get Smart :

Fascinating post, Monica! I agree that embracing digitization appears not to be an option for Coca-Cola, rather a required step in remaining competitive. Not only do I see smart vending machines as an opportunity to reinvigorate the brand and provide short-term promotional benefits, but also, as you highlight, these machines are a clear source of cost-savings and inventory management for the company and vending machine owners. However, beyond the cost reductions and improved supply-chain efficiencies, I see the consumer behavior data that these machines provide as the most critical reason for Coca-Cola to continue to digitize. Like you, I worry that invasive technologies such as facial recognition may be detrimental to Coca-Cola’s brand, which is why I see digital features, such as “My Coke Rewards,” as the most advantageous avenue for the company to pursue. With the rise of on-demand services and the effect this has had on consumer behavior, I do not see vending machines as a winning proposition in the long-run. However, I believe they are an intelligent way through which Coca-Cola can test promising digital services, which will be how I believe Coca-Cola can remain competitive in an increasingly digital world.

On November 28, 2017, USCA commented on Adidas is clicking “print” on your next pair of shoes :

Great post, Emily! It is clear that the potential benefits to Adidas, and the footwear industry more broadly, of leveraging digitization are encouraging from both a cost perspective (in the longer-term) and a product line perspective. I think it is interesting that Adidas is establishing local Speedfactories because the company appears to be betting on not only a reduction in transportation costs and time-to-market, but also a re-imagination of the shoe-purchasing experience. Though to your point on annual shoe volume, I am concerned with the scalability of this strategy and the time it will take to migrate the company to this type of manufacturing. I am also concerned with this strategy’s economies of scale given its localized nature.

I am curious as to whether Adidas’ push toward 3D-printing is more of a response to the retail industry’s movement toward “fast fashion,” a shifting consumer demand toward customization, a desire to cut costs in the longer-term or pressure to keep pace with competitors. While all of these factors may be at play, one concern I have is around the general consumer perception and whether there is demand for a 3D-printed, customizable shoe, specifically made by Adidas (potentially at a higher price point). If Adidas cannot market the benefits to consumers (and maintain a strong brand), the value proposition of these factories, and Adidas, becomes much more about cost reduction. Should that be the case, I worry about a large-scale investment in 3D technology, and I agree with your point that Adidas must focus on understanding and keeping up with innovation.