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Thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed reading about your suggestions about how HBS can build a virtual classroom through VR to deliver an experience that is more encompassing than Zoom but still respecting social distancing guidelines.

I’m really curious on how enrollment will shakeout with the announcement about accepting deferrals. For those who are WFH in their jobs, I’m not sure what their willingness would be to leave a paycheck for an online experience given that business school is a highly social experience and the network is one of the greatest assets you build while you are here. For those who have lost their jobs, it’s likely they had some plan for how to pay for business school and it may be a good break for 2 years, in hopes that the job market will be better after.

Since 37% of the class is international (https://www.hbs.edu/mba/admissions/class-profile/Pages/default.aspx) will they even be able to travel in August in hopes of there being some in person component? Would they want to stay in their home country and start school online? I worry that this number will drop because of deferrals and the incoming class might not have as rich of an experience from missing out on the learnings and perspectives of peers who grew up in and work in cultures much different from theirs. Tough times ahead!

On May 2, 2020, HK commented on Chipotle: Are Burritos Meant to Be Digital? :

Thanks for sharing! It was really interesting to see how Chipotle leveraged some digital infrastructure they already built to help them maintain sales during COVID. I was really impressed to read about how they pivoted their investments to quickly and leaning into Tik Tok with the sponsor me challenge. I’m curious how important Chipotle’s lack of franchising helps them in this strategy. Since they own their stores they can make changes very quickly without pushback or fear of slow adoption by store owners. Could franchised businesses also leverage these strategies and see similar success? It’s possible but I’m not as confident that the roll out would be as smooth.

Thanks for sharing! I’m curious about if coronavirus will prompt the various testing companies to come together for a unified solution. Right now–that doesn’t seem to be the case. GMAT, GRE, and LSAT have all created online alternatives (though as you mentioned, not uniform in how it’s executed) for their tests but the MCAT and USMLE have not. In fact the USMLE is resuming some in person testing as of yesterday! Tests for high school students (SAT and ACT) have been canceled and the testing agencies have claimed that depending on how things progress they will create a digital version for this fall. As the first round of students take standardized tests, I hope that these testing agencies share lessons and best practices with each other!

On April 21, 2020, HK commented on Mesmer: Automating Mobile App Testing :

Hi Russell–I unfortunately wasn’t able to find pricing/trial information online. Their intake form is just a company email address to kick off the conversation. That being said, I do know that they are providing free services for telehealth mobile apps that are providing COVID solutions. See here: https://medium.com/mesmerhq/covid-19-move-fast-fix-things-3d14f9c34aae

Thanks for sharing! In reading about how they are leveraging technology in stores–I thought about how Lowe’s is leveraging an instore robot to track inventory and help customers find products (http://www.lowesinnovationlabs.com/lowebot). I wonder if a similar product could help Walmart? Walmart already has the inventory technology piece as you mentioned but they could benefit from helping customers find products since their stores are so large and selection is so vast. This might help build baskets to drive average order volume. Additionally–they could configure the robots to help facilitate an online transaction if the item is not available or out of stock in stores. This could help drive their e-commerce business. There are lots of interesting ways Walmart can leverage technology to improve their omnichannel experience!

On April 21, 2020, HK commented on Chorus.ai: Conversational Intelligence :

Thanks for sharing! I really liked your ideas for future expansion of the product. I’m curious if the company has thought about international expansion as they think of next steps given some of the biggest companies they work with are very global in nature. Creating a global product would be difficult for two main reasons. The first is building the product in other languages, since my assumption is that the current product is US based and in English. The second would be localizing the product to different countries and understanding those conversational norms. While both hurdles seem difficult, if they could expand internationally they would be able to create a moat and edge out the competition–particularly for multinational companies!

Thanks for sharing! This was a really interesting blog post–I had no idea that John Deere was leveraging AI to improve farming. You rightfully pointed out that the upfront investment in such expensive machinery could be a blocker from larger adoption. I wonder if John Deere will consider “leasing” the equipment on a monthly or quarterly basis to farmers. While not a direct comparison, I think of the road block Peloton faced with an expensive bike they were trying to sell to consumers. They offered a monthly payment options which made the purchase much more palatable to their target audience. This also ties to the Afterpay case we discussed in class.

Depending on the proximity of farms in a given area and the mobility of the product, there also could be an option of group-buying where a few farms would share costs to own the equipment and take turns using it.

Thanks for sharing! I liked hearing about how Stitcher is looking to differentiate it’s premium subscription by partnering with Marvel for a new series behind a paywall, among other strategies. Recently, as I’ve been listening to more podcasts, I’ve become interested in how new podcasts (that aren’t backed by NPR, or bigger media companies) attract an audience. On one podcast I listen to (Crime Junkies) they actually dedicated an episode and retold a story from another podcast about white collar crime to drive their audience to go listen to Swindled. This is certainly a high touch way of doing it but I’d be curious to see what Stitcher does here for their premium series. Will they release maybe a first episode for free on Stitcher and other platforms like Spotify Premium? Will they get existing podcasts to speak about them, a sampling approach, or an even more in depth one like I mentioned with Crime Junkies?

Super interesting read–thanks for sharing! I think Facebook has been very successful with its copycat strategy over the years. A recent example is how they copied stories from Snapchat within Instagram and made Instagram stories more popular. It’s directly linked to your point about execution. Instagram stories was able to integrate similar features, had a better advertising platforms for brands, and better download and upload speeds in comparison to Snapchat (most prominently noticed when traveling abroad).

Now I’m curious–what’s the next platform to unseat Facebook?

On March 23, 2020, HK commented on Cookpad: spreading the joy of cooking worldwide :

Great post! I really enjoyed learning about Cookpad and its consumers. The sharing and reviewing elements remind me a lot of the US site, Allrecipes.com, which has done a great job foster a community but unlike Cookpad, has not done a great job of creating value through other means (e-commerce, premium subscriptions etc). I think you are right in your assessment that Cookpad will have a hard time competing globally against incumbents but I wonder if the global strategy is not just to be a “global recipe sharing platform” but be specific to Japanese recipes? What if they targeted the Japanese diaspora and others who were interested in learning to cook to cuisine authentically. In that way, Cookpad could be branded as the “official authority” on Japanese cooking. I would probably trust Cookpad over Allrecipes, Bon Appetit, Food Network, Tasty etc. any day.

On February 11, 2020, HK commented on Sephora – Blurring the line between Digital and Physical :

Wonderful post! Sephora is a best in class example of how a company embraces digital innovation to improve the customer experience. Trial of new products is and will continue to be a difficult problem to solve within the e-commerce space, specifically as it relates to categories like beauty, apparel, food&bev, furniture, and baby products. Most retailers have tried to overcome this with robust return policies which is nice but doesn’t address the root cause of the problem. As you mentioned, Sephora has really one-upped just having a good return policy and seeks to directly address the issue of “how will this look on me?” Their innovations not only solve a tangible customer problem but also making the shopping experience fun! I would assume this would increase their time spent in app and overall engagement leading to increased revenue.

I continue to be surprised how other beauty retailers (ex. Ulta) have completely lagged behind in innovating on behalf of the customer. I view Sephora’s tech as their competitive advantage but I wonder if they would ever license it out to other retailers?

On February 11, 2020, HK commented on Why Netflix is winning the entertainment battle :

Thanks for sharing this! I think Netflix has done a fantastic job with their product. They’ve really excelled at personalization and keeping a steady stream of new content coming in throughout the year. Your point about the creative freedoms as it relates to number of episodes and length completely hits the nail on the head and allows for a really diverse set of content on the platform.

In the wake of the streaming wars, I’m really curious to see how Netflix adapts their strategy. Earlier today I saw that Netflix is releasing one of their original movies to non-subscribers so that they can watch before the sequel comes out later this week! Seems like an interesting tactic to get non-subscribers a taste of what Netflix original content is like.

Great post! Dollar Shave Club is definitely one of the pioneer brands in the digitally native space which paved the way for so many successful companies after them. I loved the ad–I thought it was a great mix of being funny, communicating the value proposition, and addressing competition all in one space. Also, this ad is in stark contrast to how Gillette advertises so it makes it stand out a lot more. I’m curious if back in 2011 DSC took advantage of digital because they had the foresight to see this wave of the future or if pragmatically it made the most sense based on the financial commitment a TV commercial would be. Either way–the decision worked out great for them!