Josh – Not going to lie, your catchy tag line drew me in. But I totally agree with the assessment and find the rise of Rockefeller with SO to be incredibly interesting. It’s incredibly counter-intuitive to think they became incredibly profitable by decreasing the price of their product to 1/3 the original price but the impacts on competition seem to speak for themselves. Another point to think about as that they started the use of pipelines to transport oil which further decreased costs as railroads became more expensive.
Vicky – I really liked the linkage you drew with the business and operating model. There is a lot of quality that comes from Whole Foods (sometimes at prices more than I’d like to pay) but it’s great to really put it into perspective of the way the company operates. As a customer, it helps rationalize some of the prices with the true reality of these benefits they provide. I think about the scaling, similar to comments above, particular as it seems the local Cambridge Whole Foods is quite similar to those back on the West Coast so I’d imagine they have figured it out; could be interesting as they try to grow further.
Matt – This sounds like a really cool idea and would seemingly make life easier for many of us. I thought at first it would all end happy and be the next best things until you broke out that stellar analysis. I thought it really interesting the way you added in the operating costs into the per Alfred cost. Do you think there’s anyway for them to push up the price and target an even higher segment to make this a more profitable business? I do think it’s quite interesting that the Alfred’s are fully employed by the business – I’d think that would help improve the trust and relationship between customers and the Alfreds which may also make the customers willing to pay more. I also wonder what the financials would like like if the possible ancillary services were added that you mentioned. Anyway, thanks for the introduction to Alfred!