Tommy Tom

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On May 2, 2020, Tommy Tom commented on GMAT goes online- Taking the exam at-home during a pandemic :

The barrier to entry in this market just dropped dramatically! I’m curious to see how this plays out. If GMAC isn’t willing to invest to make online standardize tests possible for the long term, I think it’s very possible to see new entrants who are willing to make the investments needed to solve some of the challenges you outline.

On April 30, 2020, Tommy Tom commented on Zillow Falling Flat During this COVID-19 Pandemic :

Great piece! The thing I wonder most about is the extent to which the VR idea could truly eliminate the real estate agent vs minimize their role, bringing down their commission. While I agree this technology could help in some stages of the buying process, given the magnitude of a home purchase, I’d be really curious to see at what stage of the funnel, buyers are no longer willing to rely entirely on VR. One other thought I had on the hardware cost, Zillow could rent out the headsets during the search process, capturing an additional fee and hopefully convincing more buyers to leverage the VR capabilities.

So exciting to read about one of our very own! I love what June is doing and think that in addition to the network effects you described, they are also uniquely benefiting from the timing of COVID. As a new start-up, they are likely seeing more traction at this early stage than they otherwise would be and they are hopefully taking advantage of all the new users to run rapid experimentation and get a sense for what is working and what isn’t!

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

Love to read about the democratization of coaching!

One additional struggle I have with many of these types of platforms is the stickiness of the coaches. I imagine one of the values in an executive coach is them really getting to know you and understanding the types of things you are working on, and these types of platforms feel like somewhat temporary or side jobs for the coaches. (This is just an assumption.) If that assumption holds true, I wonder if Better Up can focus some of their energies on ensuring smooth transitions from coach to coach.

On April 21, 2020, Tommy Tom commented on Yes Health: Can AI help diabetes patients improve their fitness? :

This is so exciting to learn about! Several years ago, UnderArmour said they were developing this technology leveraging Watson and then a couple years later, the plan/product completely disappeared from their plans and announcements. I’m so happy to hear someone figured it out!

The one thing i’m curious about is how their longer-term studies turn out, 5% weight loss in 13 weeks is great, but so many people fall trap to yo-yo dieting and I wonder how many customers use this technology over the long term. I hope Yes Health can use customer data to create staying power in this product!

On April 21, 2020, Tommy Tom commented on Rare Carat: The Kayak of Diamonds :

Great Post Leah!
Super cool idea, but what I still don’t understand is that the actually delivery/exchange of money is also such a risky step in online diamond buying. Does Rare Carat help with that element or does it require the buyer to build trust with the seller outside of the platform? I think they could step in and be the intermediary for the final stages of the process and potentially charge a small fee for doing so, helping with some of their monetization challenges.

On March 23, 2020, Tommy Tom commented on BloomNation: a budding platform for florists :

Great post! In addition to issue of florists multi-homing, these platforms create price transparency, which is great for the buyer, potentially not so great for the florist. If this price transparency creates a price war and lowers the florists’ margins, I imagine the platform could struggle to maintain florists.

On March 23, 2020, Tommy Tom commented on ClassPass: Uncertain future for boutique fitness platform 
 :

In addition to the challenge you mentioned about the dynamic credit-pricing strategy making classpass classes more expensive than going directly through the studio, this strategy causes two additional issues for the platform.
1) when class prices drop substantially, the perceived future value of that class is lower making a user less willing to pay the standard rate for the class
2) they are also testing different pricing strategies depending on the booking site, app or the web, making use of the platform for users who know of these differences clunkier and more time consuming
While I appreciate the general premise of ClassPass, they have implemented a number of strategies that reduce the value of their platform and I agree the long term success remains unclear. 🙁

On March 23, 2020, Tommy Tom commented on Zencare: Modernizing the search for mental health care :

Super interesting post! In addition to the scalability challenges Leah H mentioned, I also wonder what methods they will employ to both create and capture value going forward. While in-person therapy is generally considered more effective currently, given the current crisis and the general trend we’ve seen in the last two decades of many things moving online, I hope they find ways to move with that trend rather than get left in the dust when talk therapy does become more commonly practiced online.

On February 11, 2020, Tommy Tom commented on Stitch Fix – Fashion’s Most Innovative Retail Company :

I definitely agree that it is the most innovative retail company, but I wonder if their business model is strong enough to win in such a tough marketplace.

Specifically, I worry that Stitch Fix will struggle to replace customers over time as I suspect the company deals with relatively high customer turnover. Birchbox recently added tiered pricing to incentivize longer term commitments from customers (https://www.adweek.com/retail/birchbox-is-laying-off-25-of-its-global-workforce/), which could be an interesting model for StitchFix to test.

I agree that it will be interesting to see how they end up using their data. Given the current situation of the traditional brick and mortar retailers, I can envision an interesting partnership that could help them emerge stronger and more in-tune with the current customers needs and desires and give Stitch Fix an additional, stable revenue stream.

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

I’ve been wondering about so many of these questions as well! In addition to the space issues SR2020 brought up, I’m interested to see how Peloton’s digital strategy pans out with the rise of boutique fitness studios and the community element so deeply ingrained in them. I rarely experience Core Power or Barry’s go-ers show up, work out and leave without talking to one or many people. Grabbing a coffee or smoothie after a tough workout is part of what makes it worth it, and I wonder how many people are willing to forgo that social experience in favor of a more convenient workout.

On February 11, 2020, Tommy Tom commented on One Medical wins at digital health :

Great post! One additional thing to consider is the scalability of this platform to additional patient populations. This business model, by nature likely attracts young, healthy patients, and I hope they can take learnings and develop products, tools, interaction models etc. that work for the masses.

Additionally, to Kendra’s point about physician retention, I am worried about the quality of the physicians that are drawn to this type of work and their engagement over the long-term. Without meaningful, ongoing patient interactions, I wonder what the draw of being a PCP really is.