Author Archives: Enrico Di Stefano

“eatsa”: the fast-food that was missing!

By now, we are increasingly destined to a world with much less interaction between human beings and fast food market is no exception.

McDonald’s has already started this process through its “touch easy order” or rather a touchscreen where you can order, pay (in case you pay by credit card), print the receipt and wait for your order is ready. In this situation there is still interaction between employees and consumers. You can see them into the kitchen, you may ask them something that you forgot, you can ask them some clarifications about ingredients or something like this, etc (I recommend this article to elaborate further McDonald’s position about the topic => http://www.businessinsider.com/what-self-serve-kiosks-at-mcdonalds-mean-for-cashiers-2015-8?IR=T). But, McDonald’s main goal of this is a more efficiency, to speed up ordering service.

Instead, “eatsa” has decided to completely remove interaction between consumers and “who stands behind the counter”. So, what is “eatsa” and what does it do?

Obviously it is the nth company founded in San Francisco, California. It was founded in 2015.
Currently the company has five stores, three of which on the West Coast in California and the other two on the East Coast in NY and in Washington D.C.

eatsa_logo

Which is the news? Eatsa offers a completely new  fast-food experience based on:

  • Healthier food (Get more from your fast food. Better protein, more flavor, and always fresh. The company serves only meals based on quinoa);
  • Customization;
  • No interaction with employees;
  • Taste (With craveable flavors you won’t believe, you can have a healthy addiction to fast food);
  • Speed of service (No lines. No cashier. No nonsense. They’re engineered to get you in and out fast).

So, the experience consists in these steps:

  1. you order your customized menu through the iPad;
  2. you pay and take the receipt;
  3. you wait for your order is ready;
  4. when you read your name on the screen you can take your menu from the box assigned to you.
  5. enjoy your meal.

A further advantage for the consumers might be that in this way people aren’t “under pressure” to order, because when you are at the fast food and you want to check the menu before ordering, cashiers often animate you to order faster. For many people may be an issue.

I think it is a nice and new idea. I like this concept of fast-food chain, it is a good and new alternative to the fast-fast chains that already operate in the market, especially for the food they serve.
They have followed the recent trend focused on eating healthier.
It may be a blockbuster. It all depends on what its competitors will do, especially if they want to copy this new concept that probably may not work on them or rather they probably have to change really slowly because their consumers are used to their current standard and consumers may not accept this change.

In the end I recommend you this article that offers a different point of view on this new food experience => http://www.forbes.com/sites/eveturowpaul/2016/09/27/why-eatsa-scares-me/#2a626b3e2f64

Sources:

https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/eatsa#/entity

https://www.eatsa.com

Eatsa, A Futuristic Restaurant Where Robot Cubbies Serve Quinoa

 

Old but gold (?): “BOOM Supersonic, Concorde’s son!”

We always say “I need more time” or “I’d like to get there in 5 minutes” and maybe we have a solution as regards flights…again. Again, because we are talking about an “old” idea which has already been developed and put into practice, the “Concorde”. Obviously, now we have better technologies than in the past and maybe it is a better time to put into practice this concept.
But as we all know, “Concorde” failed.

So, the first question is: “Can Boom Supersonic succeed where Concorde failed?

The largest challenge is the technical realization of a supersonic passenger aircraft which can achieve the specification that Boom outlines.
Then, Boom wants to make a faster aircraft than Concorde that will fly 4,500nm at Mach 2.2. But the most important thing is about one of the reason of Concorde’s failure: operating cost. The company wants to produce this aircraft and it wants to do it with an operating cost that will make the operation of the aircraft profitable.

Marty St. George, a JetBlue Airways Corp. executive and industry veteran says:“I have no problem seeing the demand for this airplane. […] The issue is can you do it and make the numbers work?”
But, as you can read on company’s website, vision is really clear:

“THE FUTURE IS SUPERSONIC:
We’re building the supersonic airliner anyone can afford to fly.”

So, company really believe that is possible to realize this project and that is economically sustainable.

So, “why can’t we fly faster?”

That’s the question driving the startup which says it’s time to bring supersonic jet travel into the mainstream – in a modern way. Boom will need to sell the airlines not just on a technically disruptive aircraft, but also on one that can accomplish such feats of velocity cost-effectively. It must earn a solid profit.

The startup’s signature city pairing is New York to London, which would take a little more than three hours to fly and give a corporate traveler the opportunity to make a day trip across the pond and back. “Leave New York at 6 a.m., make afternoon and dinner meetings in London, and be home to tuck your kids into bed.”
Indeed, on company’s website you can read:

“Offer passengers more of what they value most: TIME!
Everyone wants faster flights. Boom makes speed practical and affordable.”

The idea is: a 45-seat aircraft that cruises at Mach 2.2 (1,451 miles per hour) with fares no more expensive than a current business-class round trip. A typical business ticket between New York and London ranges between $5,000 and $10,000. By combining 45 seats and a high frequency (due to the short flight time), the problem of filling a 100-seat Concorde with the resulting lower departure frequency should be avoided.

Boom has got some points right in the business discussion. But it all depends on the per-seat costs of the flight. Flights to the US market can only be made over water as supersonic passenger transport flights are forbidden over US land territory.
The company is focused on over-water routes and doesn’t plan to market its aircraft for quick zips across America or places like the Middle East to Western Europe.

But there is an issue for this kind of flights: nowadays, being up in the air is fast becoming the same as being in the office, with robust internet communication a priority for carriers, thus reducing the biggest attraction of supersonic flight-speed. Mix that with the flat beds and premium dining, and the business-class cabin can become a comfortable den in which to be productive, rested, and well-fed on the kind of 15- to 20-hour flights that are quickly becoming routine.
In fact, Teal Group’s Aboulafia says:“You used to be stuck in a tube. […] Now it’s an office in the sky. Everything has gotten way more comfortable.”
Many people now flying for the better part of a day adopt a “Who cares?” attitude.

History is full of examples of ideas that didn’t work in the past but now they can or already work. Especially in the economic world, we all know that the market has to be ready for a product, the timing is fundamental. So, the question is: “Is the market ready again for this solution?”
Maybe yes or maybe not, but in my opinion it depends. It depends on how people perceive business flights, because for many people a long time travel is the perfect moment to work on a project or to treat the details of something they are working on. It’s a fifty-fifty situation.
In the end, company’s destiny depends on the choice of the target market, because in my opinion this idea could work in a segment of the business class and not the entire business class market.

Sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-29/supersonic-is-coming-back-will-the-airlines-buy-it

http://boomsupersonic.com

https://leehamnews.com/2016/11/17/will-boom-succeed-concorde-failed/#more-21495

http://www.theverge.com/2016/11/15/13629104/boom-supersonic-jet-prototype-unveil-concorde

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/nov/15/richard-branson-supersonic-flight-virgin-boom

http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2016/11/return-mach

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaredmeyer/2016/10/28/supersonic-flight-make-america-boom-again/#29dd1a4a7002

“SILICON VALLEY strikes again!”

Silicon Valley is not only Google, Facebook or Apple, high-tech companies based on internet or correlated products. It is also insurance services, it is starting to focus on making the insurance market more efficient to better serve patients and hospitals. One new health technology upstart is betting that the combination of data and preventive care is the solution for creating a better insurance company.

Clover logo

A company which wants to make this real is Clover Health. Clover Health wants to use software and data to give seniors, particularly those who use the private versions of Medicare, a cheaper option. Generally a Medicare patient goes to a primary doctor’s office, goes to a cardiologist, goes to a hospital, there is no quarterback for that data but especially no one has the time or the data to guide that patient and coordinate all those interactions and make sure each provider gets the right info at the right time.

This is a tough unstructured data problem with all these reports coming to the company. It requires creating tools that are able to mesh all those different forms of data into a unified system that can then analyze whether or not a patient is at higher risk.

And the company has to figure out why that patient is at risk so it nows how to intervene. That’s why the company’s strength is its technology. The company’s technology is supposed to recognize when patients need medical treatment and then intervene in their care to save money for both the patient and the insurance company.

“We’re not just using [technology] to pay out claims,” says Vivek Garipalli, Clover’s co-founder and chief executive officer. “We’re building a learning machine, and we’re using it for health.”

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Model

“We have one goal – to improve the quality of life of our members and physicians.”

It all starts with its insurance model. The company aligns with physicians by reducing friction and increasing transparency, leading to improved patient care. Its physicians are able to focus on people, not paperwork.
Clover is also partner in care, using patient-centered analytics and a dedicated care management team to identify potential risks and directly provide preventive care.

As an insurer, Clover pays all its members’ bills. This gives the company an evolving health profile for every customer. Since Medicare members visit doctors more frequently and have higher costs than anyone else in the country, Clover is amassing a huge volume of data. The company has trained its system to look for anomalies, such as missed doctor’s appointments, failures to pick up prescriptions or visits to the ER.

The company’s algorithms and software identify the most at-risk patients, and then its nurse practitioners visit patient’s homes, and coordinate necessary tests that may be missing in the patient’s profile. Clover Health also analyzes lab data to identify patients who are in danger of serious illness, such as diabetes.

“If we know something is on a 30-day refill and we haven’t seen a claim in 35 days, we know they aren’t taking it regularly,” Gale (Clover co-founder) said. “We can reach out — for example, maybe do they not understand how they’re supposed to be taking this — and intervene. This is info that’s available to us because we’re the payer. The doctor that prescribed gave them a piece of paper that’s now on them. The doctor doesn’t know if they’re getting that filled unless they’re asking them regularly. That’s part of the data advantage.”

ECONOMIC SIDE: Uncle Sam pays Clover a monthly fee for each Medicare Advantage customer the startup enrolls. The amount varies depending on where the person lives, but it averages $850 before adjusting for chronic conditions or healthy habits, the Medicare Rights Center says. Clover uses the money to pay members’ bills and generates almost all its revenue from whatever is left over after reimbursing doctors, hospitals, labs, pharmacies and other points of care. The company offers plans with no monthly premiums or ones that go as high as $225.
By law, Medicare Advantage providers must pay out 85 percent of premiums they get from the government. The goal of the Clover is to counsel them before they require costly treatments. In fact, helping patients avoid hospitalization saves the company an average of $10,000, so the potential savings nationally could be huge.

COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPEClover Health’s primary competition are the traditional Medicare insurance companies, such as United Healthcare. But those companies aren’t collecting the data from their patients in the same way Clover Health does.There are also other startups, too, that are also trying to re-invent the health insurance industry like Oscar Health, Bright Health and GoHealth. But the companies are targeting a very different demographic, and Clover Health’s selling point is the technology that powers it.

In conclusions, Silicon Valley has just given birth to a company which is “anusual” from the big corporations which stay there. Clover thought “How could we change something so traditional and expensive as Health Insurance in the USA?” I think is is doing it well because in the digital era informations are like “digital gold” and if you succeed using them well you can get a lot of money. However, in addition to this the company is using informations for an important goal: take care about people’s health and do it for a better price. This last point for american people is a very important topic and it could be a good solution for the american private health system. So, they make money, you have more care, you prevent diseases and pay less than before, I think everyone wins.

Sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-07/silicon-valley-is-trying-to-reinvent-health-care-starting-in-new-jersey

https://www.cloverhealth.com/en/

https://techcrunch.com/2015/09/17/clover-health-a-data-driven-health-insurance-startup-raises-100m/

http://fortune.com/2015/09/18/clover-health-medicare-insurance/

http://fortune.com/2016/05/20/clover-health-funding/

Have you ever dreamed to sell your home directly from your couch? Now, you can!

Opendoor is a startup which was founded in San Francisco in 2014. This company has a simple business model – it buys houses in cash, makes some minor repairs, and then resells them at a higher price.

opendoor

This model is unusual in Silicon Valley, where real estate businesses have traditionally focused on creating software to connect homeowners and buyers, not buying and selling buildings. Opendoor takes on risks associated with real estate ownership, hoping to turn a profit on each sale. For sellers, Opendoor offers a quick way to cash out.
The company currently purchases homes only in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Dallas-Fort Worth, according to its website, but it says it’s using the 210 million dollars (£168 million) it just raised to expand to 10 cities next year.
Then, there is another important fact to consider: two of these areas (Phoenix and Las Vegas) were among the areas most affected by the 2007 US property bubble and in my opinion it is not a case this company is operating successfully there.

Cofounder and CEO Eric Wu’s LinkedIn profile says: “Our mission is to make residential real estate liquid, changing the traditional sales process by making it simple to buy and sell real estate online.” So, company mission is to simplify real estate.
Their main purpose is to simplify the process of selling, which shouldn’t be this hard:

  • strangers walking through you home;
  • months of cleanings and showings;
  • contracts failing through.

Nevertheless it still takes months to sell your home. Therefore, the company has decided for this mantra “With Opendoor, your home is sole the minute you’re ready”.

Opendoor

Furthermore you can read on the website of the company, “We believe in a better home selling and buying experience”.
So they want to focus their attention on better experience and less stress in buying and selling houses process. They want to change the traditional business model in this world, they offer: speed, and customer satisfaction.

Let’s learn something else about this company:

  1. How do they earn money?

    Opendoor relies on a complex algorithm to bid for homes sight unseen, and it can then close on those deals in as little as three days. It makes its money by taking a service fee of 6%, similar to the standard real estate commission, plus an additional fee that varies with its assessment of the riskiness of the transaction and brings the total charge to an average of 8%. It then makes fixes recommended by inspectors and tries to sell the homes for a small premium.

  2. How does the service offered by the company work?

    1 You tell to the company about your home.
    Requesting an offer takes just a few minutes and is completely free.2 Receive an offer on your home.
    The company bases its offer on a comparative market analysis and home’s unique story.

    3 Schedule your home inspection.
    After accepting Opendoor offer, the start-up will do a free, quick home inspection to confirm your home’s condition.

    4 Choose your move-out date.
    Select the closing date you want, from 3 to 60 days from today.

    5 Company will take care of the rest.
    Watch the progress of your sale while Opendoor takes care of all of the details, including arranging escrow.

    6 And you’re done!
    You will receive the proceeds from your home‘s sale on your chosen closing date.

Furthermore, Opendoor hopes to add even more ease of mind for buyers with its new policies. The company will offer its 30-day money-back guarantee to all buyers, for any reason. If they do want to give back the house, so to speak, Opendoor will purchase it back at the price it sold the house, minus the fees associated with the sale, including any escrow fees, title insurance, homeowners association fees, and commissions. Sellers who took out a bank loan to purchase the house will have to pay back the loan to release the house’s title back to Opendoor, said the company.
So, this kind of warranty could be an important source of competitive advantage on its competitors.

But, in any case, it doesn’t matter the success of a company, there are always some risks. A potential problem with these business models is that they are based on the assumption that both rents and property values will continue to rise, which is not an idiotic assumption over the long term, but what if they stop?

In conclusion, certainly the business model is simple and brilliant; probably it could help many people to get quickly big amount of money from the selling of their house but maybe someone could see this company as a hawk which wants to take advantage from people who really needs money because it isn’t a good period of their lives.
In the end, my hope is not going to end as the last financial crisis, namely I hope this company with this simple model is more efficient and more transparent in such a way as to avoid the problems connected to the banks business model in the real estate world.

 

Sources:

https://www.opendoor.com

http://www.forbes.com/sites/amyfeldman/2016/11/30/next-billion-dollar-startup-opendoor-raises-another-210-million-to-expand-its-homebuying-model/#2d556cad2521

http://fortune.com/2016/06/07/opendoor-money-back-gurantee/

http://www.businessinsider.com/startup-opendoor-valued-at-more-than-1-billion-2016-12?IR=T

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-30/opendoor-s-home-flipping-business-becomes-the-latest-unicorn-startup

 

 

 

HIPPO ROLLER: when you didn’t need great innovations to make life easier

HIPPO ROLLER is the perfect example of product not so innovative about the technological aspect that can make life easier. As you can see on product’s website, the company is the first to consider it a simple innovation.

Let’s start observing where this product was born. In my opinion, it isn’t a case that is an idea from two south-african guys, because the water crisis is a recurring problem in Africa. African people (generally women and children) spend a lot of time to provide themselves water since that they have to do many travels up to the springs. So this product is a brilliant idea since that now they can do less travels and take more water than before. In this way they have more time to spend in other things like go to school, work or farm.

Now, the first question is: what is Hippo Roller and how does it work?
Hippo Roller is a device for carrying water more easily and efficiently than traditional methods, particularly in the developing world. It consists of a barrel-shaped container which holds the water and can roll along the ground, and a handle attached to the axis of the barrel.
Hippo Roller makes it extremely easy to collect water in tough rural conditions – up to 5x more water than a single bucket, by simply rolling it along the ground. Then, this product has a filter to have cleaner water.

CIF Malawi - Nov 2016

IMMEDIATE IMPACT!

Most benefits enjoyed are experienced immediately: The Hippo Roller improves health and hygiene and makes more water and time available for education, household tasks and food production.

Benefits:

  • time savings (fetching water can be very time consuming in some poor rural environments);
  • reduced effort;
  • reduced strain (carrying heavy weights on the head every day for years puts strain on the body, particularly the vertebral column);
  • increased water availability, with benefits for health and perhaps even enabling vegetables to be grown;
  • hygienic storage due to the sealed lid on the roller.

Problems:

  • the biggest problem is financial. A Hippo Water Roller costs $100 plus shipping costs. That’s a pretty steep price for a South African or for a charity that wants to buy a large amount. Most use donated money to buy them. In other cases, corporations will buy some and donate them to a nongovernmental organization or a village.

To conclude, I want to use company’s mantra because lets you understand their philosophy and my opinion in this case:”Simple ideas. Changing lives.”

Sitography:

  • https://www.hipporoller.org
  • http://www.businessinsider.com/hippo-roller-carrying-water-easy-africa-2016-5?IR=T
  • http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TECH/innovation/07/12/ost.hippo.water.roller/
  • https://www.flickr.com/photos/hipporoller/31153771236/in/photostream/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippo_water_roller