SR2020

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Nice – wish I’d gotten to take my GMAT at home! I think it’s great that graduate admissions exams are moving in this direction – and think that undergrad exams such as the PSAT, SAT, and ACT are also well positioned to go digital. Where I’m less certain, though, is whether longer and higher stakes admissions exams (e.g. MCAT) or professional certification exams (e.g. the Bar Exam) can be done this way. A lot of law students are graduating this year with their futures uncertain because they can’t get the certification they need to practice law …. but is that enough of a reason to potentially open up the profession to the risk of certifying people who may have cheated? I personally don’t think so, but am excited to see what the legal, medical, financial, and accounting professions decide on if the crisis extends much longer.

Very interesting read! A couple of opportunities and one watch-out came to mind after reading:

(1) Have any of the platforms formed partnerships with online video conferencing software to provide a deluxe experience for users? I wonder how working with an expert in that area could make video dating more high-quality and seamless for users?

(2) What additional data points can dating apps now collect given that people are interacting more online vs. in-person. I imagine it would be good to be able to collect some data beyond who you swipe on to improve recommendations, but think there’s a fine line between helpful and creepy.

(3) How will dating apps know when to encourage in-person interactions again and how will they get people back out there? With different guidelines in every state I think it will require a good grasp of policy to ensure that the platform isn’t encouraging bad behavior. At the same time, I think people are going to be more weary of meeting up with strangers after the crisis so a lot of advertising is going to be needed to get folks back out.

Great post! When looked at individually, I agree that Classpass has done a great job innovating to make its product more accessible now and more valuable in the future. I remain concerned, though, that the company is still not well-positioned coming out of the crisis to compete with other fitness streaming options such as Peloton and Beach Body On Demand. What about Classpass’ actions make you think that it will succeed against these strong competitors? Also, how might Classpass leverage data about users’ in-person class behavior to inform their online offerings?

On April 21, 2020, SR2020 commented on Salesforce: democratizing AI for small businesses :

What a great example of how AI can power small businesses! I had not really though about AI being something that’s accessible to SMEs until I read your post. I agree that this can unlock value for smaller firms in two ways – enable them to keep their sales teams smaller (and costs lower) as they grow because of the automation Einstein provides, and helps them make sales decisions more judiciously rather than taking the same approach with all customers.

On April 21, 2020, SR2020 commented on BetterUp: Personalized Career Coaching For All :

Great post! BetterUp has the potential to become very valuable as automation and the rise of remote work being to significantly impact businesses. By replacing in-person training with an online tool, BetterUp will enable companies to consistently train employees regardless of where they are located. Additionally, this product could perhaps be augmented or combined with other online learning platforms to reskill workers as their jobs are automated, or provide them with consistent skills coaching if they are forced to move jobs.

On April 21, 2020, SR2020 commented on Duolingo – Learning the language of AI :

Great post that helps be better understand the experience that my fiancee had with Duolingo! While she was impressed with placement test’s capabilities to analyze her Korean (she can speak some but doesn’t know how to read/write), she found the product frustrating in a couple of ways that could perhaps be improved through further AI applications. The first is that there was that the platform relies too much on multiple choice (probably creates easier data for AI to use), when free response (spoken and written) is a better indication of learning. Perhaps Duolingo needs to improve its Natural Language Processing capabilities to make this possible. Additionally, the owl was annoying when it was trying to get her to reengage with the platform – I wonder if Duolingo could use AI for better customer engagement tactics?

On March 24, 2020, SR2020 commented on Everything is teachable – Platform play in education :

As technology increasingly augments – and replaces – human work, the importance of affordable and relevant education will become increasingly important. I think teachable has the potential to help companies quickly retrain their work forces while reinforcing a culture of sharing and learning. I think they should consider making a corporate version for companies where employees are incentivized to post courses teaching others skills in areas that area top priority for the company. For example, a coder in one department could teach a course to people whose jobs are being replaced to help them find a new role in the company. A product like this would be very sticky for companies because it would contain significant amounts of company knowledge, and integrating a education system into their existing systems would take significant effort. Once they’re bought in, they’d stay for a long time.

On March 24, 2020, SR2020 commented on Upwork— the future of remote work online :

I agree completely that the COVID epidemic is going to have a significant impact on professional services going forward. Companies are being mass-exposed to remote working right now, and I think this will help them realize the opportunities it provides and cost saving potential that comes from not having people in the office. I think the area facing most disruption from platforms like Upwork is concrete, short-term technical or design work, while things like strategy projects and legal advice will likely remain either in-house or with established players given the sensitivity, importance, and complexity of the work

On March 24, 2020, SR2020 commented on Zocdoc: The Yelp for Medicine? :

Interesting blog post and especially relevant given our increased focus on healthcare in recent weeks! One concern that I have about ZocDoc is the quality of doctors listing on the platform; because the platform is meant to act as publicity and reputation verification, I am concerned that top-tier doctors will not use the platform because why pay for something you already have? I wonder if ZocDoc could partner with or build in-house telemedicine capabilities that even top doctors don’t want to develop on their own to make the platform more attractive. This feature will likely become even more attractive after the COVID crisis because people are increasingly becoming comfortable with remote medicine.

Awesome topic! While it’s indisputable that the DNC was a “loser” in this situation, I do think its push toward a more-efficient voting procedures is a step in the right direction. The questions in my mind after reading your post are if and how digital technology (especially mobile) can be used to make voting more accessible – and if it is possible, who should be leading the charge?

To the last questions, it seems like it should be a government-wide initiative vs. one done by individual parties. I think this would ensure more rigorous testing, increase trust, and enable a country-wide roll out with sufficient training / advertising provided to all citizens (e.g. the HealthCare.gov rollout). As to whether mobile voting of some sort is even possible – it seems like a long way off for the business case and data privacy concerns to be addressed but maybe this is something that should begin to be piloted at a state level?

On February 11, 2020, SR2020 commented on Peloton: Winning the fitness battle, losing the economic war :

Thank you for writing on this topic! Your post highlighted a number of the concerns I personally have as a potential customer – and that I’m sure many other of their target buyers are having. It also brought to mind two other issues they are grappling with they may call into question their “winner” status:

(1) Choice of exclusivity vs. inclusivity – Peloton has received significant flack in recent months for appearing too elite and exclusive (i.e. featuring only thin, young, rich people with large houses). As a brand that prides itself on community, I think its going to be careful about how it curates a community that people are proud to be a part of vs. hide in their back room when guests come over).

(2) Rise of at-home fitness competition – many other companies are entering the connected at-home fitness arena, namely Fight Camp (boxing) and Tonal (weight lifting). Going forward, Peloton will have to compete with these folks for the dollars, time, and floor space of a limited, urban, affluent customer base.

Thanks for writing on such an interesting and timely topic! While some of the issues outlined above are unique to Sweden, so many of them – notably long wait times, unequal access, and massive inefficiencies are impacting healthcare in countries around the world. Learnings from KRY could be very useful to inform similar products in geographies outside of Europe.

What excites me most about this company is how it could be complemented well by the rise in consumer healthcare products (e.g. wearables) and services (e.g. 23 and Me). As consumers become more educated on their own health, they will become more informed users of KRY and will be able to provide more information to remote doctors digitally. Hopefully this rise in easy information sharing will help counteract some of the drawbacks of receiving remote care.