January 6, 2016

The Drone Buzz

Posted by Girish Pai (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:09 AM

Amazon Prime Air To Provide Drone Delivery | Tech Bet | CNBC [Source:]

Investors know what most of the world (including Amazon's legions of loyal customers) do not: That the stock of the Seattle-based company trades at an almost incredible price-to-earnings ratio (it has one of the highest p/e ratios of all companies trading on the U.S. exchanges). This means that investors are placing an amazing amount of confidence in Amazon's potential to become profitable. They have put a premium on the company's innovative track record and have a collective hunch that its big technology bets will someday pay off big.

But financiers will be the first to tell you that past accomplishments are by no means any guarantee of a company's future successes. For the second year in a row, Amazon aired advertisements (in the form of an Amazon Prime video) touting the web retailer's plans to deliver goods by unmanned drone aircrafts. This year the ads were even more polished and they featured one of the presenters from the hit British TV show Top Gear.

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September 30, 2015

Selling Food Can Be A Startup Industry

Posted by Girish Pai (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:22 AM

Instacart CEO: A Bet on Groceries  [Source:]

Have you heard of Instacart, Peapod or even AmazonFresh? These feisty enterprises are trying to change the way you buy what goes in your mouth. Indeed, some savvy venture capitalists think of food retail as an industry with startup potential. For example, the research firm CB Insights reports that VC investment in digitally-based food retailers rose to US$ 1 billion in 2014 from US$ 288 million the year before. Interest among hungry investors continues to grow.

So just what are food startups? These are extremely sophisticated technologists who happen to be owners of small businesses (small farms, really - just a few acres here and there). They form farming cooperatives in some cases and they are well-versed in growing and selling food. They are using IT tools to go against the grain. Plus, financial guidance from their VC investors doesn't hurt, either. This is an enormous change from the way things have been done. For decades, to succeed in food retail, you had to go the hypermarket route. Everything was about enormous scale (farms consisting of hundreds of thousands of acres or livestock slaughterhouses that went through thousands of animals a day) and razor-thin margins.

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January 14, 2015

Start-ups Steering Retail

Posted by Girish Pai (View Profile | View All Posts) at 2:34 AM

Start-ups are providing retailers with an affordable way to steer ahead of the competition

What are the most important things on a retailer's mind? Staying ahead of the curve, with a little help from technology, of course! Up until a few years ago, this meant large capital investments on the part of the retailer. But, things are changing. Start-ups are providing retailers with an affordable way to steer ahead of the competition.

Start-ups provide retailers with two distinct benefits: speed and cost. Today, start-ups are working on exciting solutions. An interested retailer can experiment with these technologies in controlled markets and see what works. Then, there is cost. Some of the innovations, especially in the omni-channel space, require capital and infrastructure. Start-ups are building such solutions on a small scale allowing retailers to leverage these investments in a controlled pilot before determining if there is a business case to do something new on a large scale. For retailers who are trying to leverage their brick and mortar footprint in the omni-channel space, start-ups can provide a way to leverage their store networks, which are closest to the end-consumer as a competitive advantage against the likes of Amazon and AliBaba who are making huge investments in this space.

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