Bubble and the Power of Education

Posted by on Nov 30, 2015 | Tags: , , , | 2 comments

  In a world where, as a tech founder, seeking VC funding seems as natural as applying to college after graduating high school, Emmanuel Straschnov of Bubble maintains a rare and refreshing vision for his company. That vision is a revolutionary change in software engineering—a democratization so to speak—that allows anyone to translate their ideas into a website. Coupling this vision with patience, Emmanuel has opted to avoid the funding route in order to maintain his autonomy and create a business that truly disrupts the...

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Foreclosures, Zillow and the Last Mile

Posted by on Nov 25, 2015 | | 2 comments

Foreclosures or real estate owned properties (REOs) represent a large, but broken marketplace. At the end of September, 470,000 homes in the United States were in some process of foreclosure.[1] However, using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac REOs as representative of the market, only 23% of their current inventory is available-for-sale; 40% of REO inventory cannot even be marketed due to owner-occupied, redemption or repair status.[2] For context, residential housing starts are around 1m annually.[3] Increased transparency in the REO process...

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If Algorithms Can Be Racist, Whom Can We Trust?

Posted by on Nov 25, 2015 | Tags: , , | 6 comments

Imagine this: Two couples apply for a mortgage from the same broker to purchase a house. One couple is white, the other is black. The mortgage broker offers the white couple a prime rate loan, but steers the black couple to a subprime mortgage with higher interest rates and fees. A clear case of discrimination based on race, right? In 2011, Bank of America paid $335 million to settle claims brought by the Department of Justice that one of their lending arms, Countrywide Financial, regularly charged black and Hispanic customers higher rates...

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Democratization of Democracy. Or can e-commerce experience help us to conduct online elections?

Posted by on Nov 25, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , | 2 comments

During the last couple of decades, we have been introduced to technological innovations and tools that help us deal with daily activities much more easily and effectively. The way we shop and communicate with each other, consume information, travel, and pay bills has changed dramatically since the introduction of the Internet. Notwithstanding these innovations, when it comes to political elections we are stuck with the old-fashioned paper ballot system. Internet voting would have eliminated problems related to distance and accessibility,...

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Amazon in Brick and Mortar

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 | | 4 comments

A New Era in Hybrid Retail: Amazon in Brick and Mortar With the opening of the first Amazon brick and mortar store on November 3, 2015 in Seattle, a new era of the truly hybrid online/brick-mortar store has arisen. Amazon is following on the heels of smaller startups’ forays into hybrid online/brick-mortar expansion by Rent the Runway in August 2012, Birchbox in July 2014, and Bonobos with its 10 “guideshops.” Nonetheless, the giant retailer’s hop on the train makes the movement a trend to watch. Original Online Model In 1994, Internet...

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Optimizing two-sided marketplace growth using customer lifetime value

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 comments

When I spoke with the founders and early employees of famous two-sided marketplaces such as Airbnb and Thumbtack, I consistently heard the same story: acquiring sellers was the focus early on, but it became progressively harder to grow the buyers at a suitable rate. This is a natural progression for two-sided marketplaces, and balancing buyers and sellers is probably one of the most difficult problems in the growth stages of a company. A two-sided marketplace is any platform where buyers and sellers come together to transact: drivers sell...

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You’ve got mail: The (re-)rise of the email newsletter

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 comments

Email newsletters are not a new innovation. Distributing news content through email is an established practice, but the medium has re-risen over the last 3 years and now holds a prominent place in most inboxes. Major news outlets want to send you a morning update and start-ups such as The Skimm and The Lenny Letter have built entire media juggernauts out of email alone. These start-ups have taken a page from Clayton Christensen’s Theory of Disruptive Innovation – that a more complicated product is not necessarily best for the consumer. The...

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RAW IS EVERYTHING: Building an Online Brand at HBS

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 | | 5 comments

For the past ten years, I have been an activist on a mission to make our beauty products safer. It all started when I was fifteen years old and I learned that an ingredient in my mascara was used to wax airplane wheels. This realization sparked a lifelong passion to spread awareness about the harmful ingredients in our products and advocate for safer alternatives. Now at HBS, I have used my business school experience to find a team, build a brand, and create products that we hope will disrupt the skincare industry as a whole. This issue is...

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HotelTonight. Gone Tomorrow?

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , | 2 comments

Plan Less. Live More. This is the reinvented motto of Hotel Tonight, a mobile app for users who are searching for last-minute discounted hotel stays around the world. Hotel tonight started as a mobile-only app for fifty U.S. hotels in 2010, and the business has since then grown into a global, instant booking system with a user base of over 11 million people.  The app is used for both business and leisure travel (I suspect it’s mostly leisure demand) to access a listing of hotel rooms in over 36 countries and 1,900 cities.[1] The fundamental...

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Content marketing – hard to execute successfully yet increasingly important

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 | Tags: , , , | 2 comments

Content marketing is not new. However, with the rise of social media, content produced has exploded – Facebook users alone share 2.5 million pieces of content. Every minute! Increased content publishing creates noise and a more competitive market for potential customers’ attention. _______________________________________________________ So what is content marketing? The Content Marketing Institute provides the following definition:“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent...

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