Yes yes yes! Love this idea, hear the founder is one of the best people on the face of the earth, so all in all this is totally worth figuring out how to grow sustainably! I have two thoughts:
1) Instagram food bloggers – bestofboston, food52, bostonpublicmarket, readingterminal, and many others have tens of thousands of followers. If you can get featured through one of these bloggers, I think you can both reach new vendors and consumers. With that in mind though, the DLSH website is currently very consumer facing, so I think you would need a clear call to action on the homepage for new vendors who want to get involved on the platform.
2) Box subscriptions. Now, this takes more risk on the DLSH entity because you would potentially need to facilitate the boxes, but the subscription market is so hot right now, from birchbox to rocksbox to graze. You could actually look at existing food subscription companies and see if you could help sell your vendor foods into their supply chains: http://boxes.mysubscriptionaddiction.com/subscription_boxes_for/food and http://www.instyle.com/holidays-occasions/gift-guide/food-subscription-services#1535704 for some suggestions!
A final note, let’s use some of our section funds to try a bunch of these vendors’ products and get HBS people engaged with the site! I think it could be a really fun lunchtime activity. Maybe the community values rep can contact the founder of DLSH and see what’s possible?
Technology is supposed to make our lives easier…but dating apps having made the ‘love hunt’ seemingly much more difficult. Even in our own little Harvard bubble, people make comments like, “Oh, I can’t just go up and talk to that girl in another section! I wonder if she’s on Tinder…” We rely on technology to validate our interest, and in some ways, it can paralyze the ability for people to find organic connections. Suddenly, dating becomes almost mechnical. Even as the stigma of finding love online fades away, I still believe the pendalum will swing back towards people wanting more human connection, not being limited by screen swipes. I see the industry evolving towards more predictive matching that takes the game out of the equation. We’ve all been at parties where the people in couples want to use the single person’s Tinder to ‘have a little fun.’ It’s disheartening when the game doesn’t work out for you though, so I see users become disengaged over time and looking for a new alternative. If these companies can shift more towards predictive analytics of you ‘liking someone’ though, I think there’s a real chance of improving matches and thus the opportunity for monitazation. No one is going to pay for a service where they feel like a pawn – they want the service where they are the king or queen (or at least the bishop, because that piece is legit). We need to the Lenddo of the dating world!
I love the idea of this technology, and it’s a shame that regulation around “Know Your Customer (KYC)” limits its use in the U.S. There are nine million unbanked households in the US and another 24.5 million underbanked households that encounter the same issues with accessing loans due to the lack of a credit score (https://www.fdic.gov/householdsurvey/). However, banks are incredibly risk adverse to using social media; from trying to implement a similar technology at Barclays, the argument was that the social media accounts could be faked and that it was then impossible to know who you were really lending to. It’s encouraging to hear other countries are able to use technology like Lenddo and that it’s predictive capabilities have been shown to be better than credit scores, per your Philippines example. So that begs the question, how can we use the mounting body of evidence to convince U.S. banks to utilize similar technologies and also change the KYC regulations to allow for confident use of social media in evaluating credit worthiness?
Almost every country song has a line about driving your big red truck on the back roads and tasting that pure, American freedom. I wonder to what extent people outside of our bubble actually think self-driving cars are an infringement on their freedoms, and thus limiting adoption on the consumer retail side. Giving up control to a machine, especially machines that are replacing good paying, working class jobs, doesn’t seem likely in the short term. I can see there being significant push back from consumers who see their cars as a piece of their identity, an experience rather than a tool. With self-driving cars, we’re assuming that people want (or need) extra time in their day and that driving is an inconvenience. Certainly, people don’t get in their cars thinking “I’m going to crash this baby today,” so safety isn’t a problem we’re solving at the individual driver level. I think these assumptions aren’t universally true and will lead to an uphill battle for technology adoption, unless the government specifically mandates that cars must be self-driving. I could even see this being as contentious an issue as gun regulation – it’s similarly irrational and deeply routed in the idea of American freedom… we’ll see!
I agree that Pearson needs to hasten its pace to innovate, but I still do think that their legacy gives them a significant edge in the digitization and democratization of education. People still want a brand they can trust. Take, for instance, The Discovery Channel, which has moved into online education (http://www.discoveryeducation.com/); they work with corporation’s CSR programs to build company-specific content that they can then push to their 3.5M teacher network…all for a tiny price tag of $1-2M. Why can they charge so much? Brand equity. Even in Boston alone, there are about 300-400 EdTech start ups and their biggest barrier to entry is still getting into the schools through the principles and superintendents. Pearson, with their long-standing relationships, can much more easily enter schools and scale technology quickly. I don’t think we’ll see a true revamping of technology in education until players like Pearson come up with a catalytic solution, even with thousands of EdTech startups popping up around the world; Pearson has what startups lack – access to schools – and that issue isn’t going away for startups any time soon. Curious to debate with you more on this!!
Coming from a very conservative Catholic family, I think it is incredibly important for the Pope to galvanize the Church to act on climate change. However, I think that the positioning needs to focus on ideas skeptical Catholics can get behind, such as the fact the climate change (man-made or not) is sinking countries and threatening the lives of the poor. I honestly think if the Pope pushes this issue too far, he will alienate the older generations in the church who happen to be the most engaged and tend to give the most money. I think appealing to the people aspect of climate change will have a greater impact on fundraising for the cause, which, in the end, is the biggest contribution the church can make to mitigating the effects of climate change on communities around the globe. Even if they convince the remaining Catholics to believe climate change is caused by humans, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will participate in the cause. We need a better marketing campaign and call to action to really use the power of the Catholic church to make change; the fewer people we alienate while also bringing in young people as you said, the more change we can make!
This tofurky sounds wonderful. I’m going to have to order one for an HBS friendsgiving event
You are absolutely right that Monsanto has an uphill battle to prove the company contributes to sustainable outcomes. Even some of our colleagues across the river at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences have noted that Monsanto’s Round-up Ready seeds have led to the creation of superweeds that ultimately require more herbicides than if these GMO seeds have ever been created (http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/roundup-ready-crops/). Furthermore, application of additional herbicides can increase nitrous oxide emissions (https://www3.epa.gov/ttnchie1/ap42/ch14/final/c14s01.pdf), a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide (https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases#nitrous-oxide). Thus, even as Monsanto continues business-as-usual activities, they are ultimately creating indirect contributions to emissions. Monsanto would need to discontinue its core product and actually focus on GMO seeds that use less water, less fertilizer, and can withstand temperature shifts to truly contribute to sustainability efforts; the use of the word sustainability only in regards to their profits in their 10K shows you exactly where they stand on this issue as you mentioned though, so it doesn’t look like we’ll be leveraging their expertise to change the world any time soon.
With your point about urban deliveries causing more idle time and gas usage due to traffic right next to the UPS lockers, I was curious if the centralized locker scheme could be utilized in a bigger way. Without having to stop at each house, especially in an urban setting, rolling out the lockers to more areas at a scale similar to Amazon may be an opportunity to reduce overall mileage and idling time. With the lockers, there may also be an option of reducing packaging since you could put the item directly in the mailbox without additional cardboard boxes or extensive packing material if the products are coming from a nearby warehouse. I’m also not letting go of the idea of drone package delivery – let’s get trucks off the road all together!! Think big, right?
I’m all about the west coast oysters! I think you have a great point with brackish waters changing salinity and the taste of oysters as well. We better find a good boston buck-a-shuck now while there’s still time!
Sometimes I wonder if carbon markets are actually slowing down the transition to disaggregated grid systems. Carbon schemes are constructed with large projects and established utilities in mind, and while pushing utilities towards renewable energy certainly isn’t a bad thing, a world that doesn’t have such a reliance on central grid systems may be a more efficient use of our attention. In the U.S. alone, we lose 6% of generated energy in transmission and distribution (or 69 trillion Btu), and an additional 22 quadrillion Btu are lost in generation (http://insideenergy.org/2015/11/06/lost-in-transmission-how-much-electricity-disappears-between-a-power-plant-and-your-plug/). Distributed grid systems, with an emphasis on solar, could be the wave of the future and save substantial amounts of energy loses in our ever-aging transmission system around the world (e.g., transmission losses in India approach 30% of generated power). If utilities invest substantially in renewables, will this give them an excuse to not update their transmission systems and attempt to stop the development of micro-grids? I wonder…
Pricing is always a concern with implementing environmental regulation, but I do wander if we’re going to miss our chance to make a meaningful impact in emerging markets when consumer demand growth and regulation implementation timelines are mismatched. It’s astonishing that only 6-9% of Indian households have an airconditioner! Yet, if the uptick in demand is happening now but regulation still allows HFCs in the current products, it seems like we will miss our chance to have a substantial impact on reducing HFCs in the near term. It makes me wonder if there is a way to have governments subsidize the cost of new air conditioners in emerging markets through tax rebates or a similar mechanism so that we can more quickly scale the market penetration of technologies like Honeywell’s Solstice. Furthermore, I would push Honeywell to use it’s corporate citizenship program to expand the accessibility of it’s technologies in growing emerging markets where we can make the most impact. Right now, they’re philanthropy program focuses on employee volunteerism around Science & math education, Family safety & security, Housing & shelter, Habitat & conservation, Humanitarian Relief; none of these items leverage their expertise in sustainability. I believe it’s absolutely the duty of shareholders to hold Honeywell accountable to having a truly impactful CSR program rather than greenwashing, especially when HFCs are such a large contributor to our carbon-equivalent footprint. The Montreal Protocol brings attention to the important issue of coolants and of course needs to be tiered in order to create polictical buy-in; however, the poltics of climate change stand in the way of the accelerated progress we need to make, and I believe we need to put additional pressures on corporations to value the risk to society appropriately, even if only through using their dedicated philanthropy dollars and employee time more effectively. Would love to hear your thoughts on if you believe the philanthropy angle to engage Honeywell in distributing its technologies would be effective!