Li C

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On March 5, 2019, Li C commented on ClassPass friend or foe :

Thanks for sharing this Daniela! I definitely agree that ClassPass allows people to access a wider range of course selections at affordable rate. I also noticed those boutique studios sprung up everywhere in the past two years. In fact I signed up for an annual membership similar to ClassPass in China. I ended up only using it twice mainly due to the studios’ location and availability constraint (during peak time they have limited capacity). Investigating further, I realized the fundamental reason was that I valued workout consistency and gym’s proximity more than course selections. I preferred to go to a gym near me on a consistent basis, not being constrained by the gym’s schedule availability. That said, I think there are definitely a group of people who value less what I concerned but value more the variety of courses offered by ClassPass.

On March 5, 2019, Li C commented on Hi, my name is C-3PO. How can I assist you today? :

Thanks for sharing this great post and analysis! I’ve managed call centers before. Employee retention, morale and welfare have always been the big pain points. When I dismissed a 50-person call center team due to its unjustifiable ROI, I even received some form of threatening from the call center manager… Definitely not something I want to experience again. But this brings up a intriguing question of how could we properly address the “losers” as a result of this digital transformation. Can we empower them to some extent that they could still add value to the digitalized world?

Another amazing thing about this pre-recorded robot call is beyond the inbound call use case in handling customer support issues you mentioned, businesses can also utilize this technology to conduct outbound sales calls. During my internship at a VC fund, I visited a company applying similar technology to record scripts to sell insurance via outbound call. In fact in my trial I couldn’t even detect it’s the robot speaking with me because all the tones, pauses and pronunciations seemed so natural! It had a very sweet voice as well. Once I expressed my interest in hearing more about the product, the call was then handled by a real person. This will save a lot of labor cost because the conversion of people picking up such sales calls to becoming really interested is so low. The insurance company in this case could save tons of cost by only allocating real person to address complicated queries from customers and having the initial screening handled by robot.

On March 5, 2019, Li C commented on Tonal: Your Entire Gym On The Wall :

Thank you for the response Marissa, and happy birthday!

Re the Nautilus and Bowflex comparison, you really surfaced the key issue here. I think one major value proposition of Tonal was that it aims to provide users with a wider range of movement/activities than Bowflex does, and with comparable if not less amount of space in your room. But I do agree that they need focus on innovations in product design to keep delivering such value proposition before someone comes up with a solution to override that.

Re the installation problem, I agree that it’s a big commitment to have such a big thing on your wall. Meanwhile Tonal’s team is working to make it as less painful as possible by staffing their expert installation team to your room. https://www.tonal.com/installation/

On March 5, 2019, Li C commented on The Best Camera is the One That’s With You :

Very interesting post and analysis! I agree that digital cameras’ market share is shrinking, but I don’t think they would necessarily die out. Think about the two major segments of people taking photos – 1) everyday users who use their smartphone to record daily life, 2) and photographers and enthusiasts who consider photo taking a profession or hobby. The second group of customers, although a relatively niche segment, still have a high willingness to pay. I think digital camera manufacturers should focus on addressing this group’s need and charge a premium from them. In fact many product innovations are happening in this space. OSMO for example, is a camera stabilizer produced by DJI to help users create stable and smooth videos.[1] Many vintage fans even went further back to the film era and bought Polaroid’s new versions, which added new features such as bluetooth and a mobile app.[2] Although digital camera lost its battle to smartphone manufacturers in addressing the everyday photo taker segment, my view is as long as they keep innovating they still stand a chance to survive.

Reference:
[1] https://www.dji.com/products/osmo
[2] https://www.polaroid.com/products/category/all

Thanks for introducing this fashion resale platform Nicolás! Recently luxury consignment model is gaining a lot of momentum. During my last internship with a VC fund, one of the deals we were following was a Chinese startup called “Plum” employing similar consignment model for fashion resale. Our survey result suggests that the top three concerns for buyers choosing to buy second-hand luxury goods are “authenticity of product”, “age of product”, and “price”. For sellers, the top three reasons why they don’t list their items on such platform are “not aware of such platform”, “the process is too complicated”, and “selling price is not ideal”. From the survey result, clearly there’s big potential for fashion resale platforms to flourish.

Another great thing about similar platforms is users have high level of stickiness. Of Plum’s paying customers, 40% are also sellers on Plum. This forms a closed loop of highly engaged users. The platform will also run algorithm to recommend products to users based on their viewing, purchasing and selling behaviors.

One potential risk about such platform is once any counterfeit products are identified, it could be detrimental to the platform’s image. Some ill-intentioned users might even replace authentic products with counterfeit ones. Hence platforms like The RealReal and Plum have to invest heavily to build up a professional valuation team and relevant processes to tackle that.

Reference:
[1] https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/plum-8
[2] Market research of Plum

Thanks for sharing this platform! Very interesting and thought provoking. On the one hand LST empowers mom-and-pop shops with information and supply chain solutions. On the other hand LST allows brands and manufacturers to operate more efficiently via bottom-up feedback from the front end. Two questions came to me as I try to understand more about this topic.

1) With this platform, who owns the inventory and delivers goods to those mom-and-pop stores? My understanding is intermediaries used to own inventories and distribute products to local retailers. As those intermediaries were cut out in the new system, who is taking care of product distribution?
2) What will offline retail stores look like in 10 years? In this highly fragmented offline retail market, it’s not easy for one single player to dominate. Although no doubt Alibaba has the capability to leverage its scale and technology to disrupt this space, other players might have distinctive edges that could deliver similar if not better value propositions. JD and SF Express for example, are also investing heavily in similar platforms. My guess is 10 years down the road, mom-and-pop shops will be gone, or rather rebranded under a few big players such as Alibaba, JD and SF Express.

Reference:
[1] http://baijiahao.baidu.com/s?id=1602899888143782140
[2] https://baijiahao.baidu.com/s?id=1610590408428825842

On February 24, 2019, Li C commented on Via: a platform revolutionising transportation :

Thanks for sharing this interesting ride hailing company! I could definitely relate to the value creation you mentioned as someone whose daily commute relies on Uber/Lyft. I have two questions regarding Via’s product feature and scalability.

1) Product feature: I wonder what differentiation Via has in terms of the route matching algorithm compared to Uber Pool and Lyft Shared? As someone who used to be a Uber Pool driver, I would switch the Pool toggle on if I want to pick up multiple passengers to increase my utilization. Does Via have any unique features that are different from a Uber Pool driver?
2) Scalability: My understanding of on-demand ride hailing business is that this is a winner-takes-most if not all market featuring strong network effect. The more “liquid” (more riders and drivers online) a city is, the more likely riders and drivers get matched, and the better the user experience is. Whoever has large scale seems to have more edges to deliver such value proposition. In January 2019, Uber and Lyft took 97.4% of US market, leaving pretty tiny room for other companies to play.[1] I wonder what Via’s strategy is scale up in a market dominated by Uber and Lyft and how Via could continue delivering its customer promise.

Reference:
[1] https://secondmeasure.com/datapoints/rideshare-industry-overview/