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Monthly Archives: November 2015

Sustain Weekly Newsletter-30Nov2015

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SUSTAIN WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

A weekly sustainable tech newsletter from a standing desk. – Nov 30, 2015

Here are the top sustainability news I found interesting this week

Start you up (week’s start-up stories and insights)

  • The day I became a millionaire – David Hansson of Ruby on Rails; Founder/ CTO at Basecamp.
  • In December, I’ll be doing a four-part analysis on the hyper-funded startup ecosystem in India. Those reading the startup opinions for the first time can check for past archives here.

Learn today

What is ‘Water Stress’?
Water stress is the ability to human and ecological demand for water. It occurs when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during poor quality or during a certain period of time. It causes deterioration of fresh water resources in both quantity (dry rivers etc.) and quality (pollution, intrusions). Here is a recent water stress chart by country.

Know 

Did you know?

  • An island of plastic trash is floating in the Pacific. The great pacific garbage patch is the size of Texas, 5.8m sq. miles. Caused by empty water bottles that are ending up in the ocean.
  • Marine animals are using a new form of secret light communication. Study finds Mantis shrimp uses circular polarizing light to indicate presence to aggressive competitors. Technology might find application in remote sensing, biomedical imaging and cancer detection.
  • Caledonian humpback whales are making mysterious visits to underwater mountains while migration. They apparently take prolonged stops from 3 to 22 days around seamounts.
  • Why you should not wash your jeans unless they’re really really dirty.
  • Brazil’s worst environmental disaster (pictures) happened this month. A dam at an iron ore mine burst, releasing mud into the Rio Doce River.  The mud sludge contains high (illegal) levels of toxic heavy metals and chemicals – arsenic and mercury.

Also,

Open Thought

The advise to drink 6/8/10 cups of water everyday is misguided. Its important that your body is replenished, but doesn’t have to be through cups and cups of water. The medium of intake should be distributed. Fruits and vegetables are also good sources of water. Follow on quality not just on quantity.

 News @Arcluster 
At Arcluster, we believe social responsibility exists beyond economic responsibility. Our sustainability efforts are compelled by an intense focus on core issues such as hunger, security, energy and environment. We have an active interest in change agents such as engineering, technology and research to achieve this. Visit our social responsibility page to know more about our efforts. Follow us on twitter @arcluster for the latest news from the company.

Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear your feedback. You can reply to this email or ping on twitter. See you next week!!

Sustain Weekly Newsletter-23Nov2015

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SUSTAIN WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

A weekly sustainable tech newsletter from a standing desk. – Nov 23, 2015

Here are the top sustainability news I found interesting this week

In Tech News

Start you up (week’s start-up stories and insights)

  • Canadian tech unicorns (Val>$1B) might be called ‘Narwhals’, based on the toothed whale found in the arctic waters of Canada. If the growing trend catches on.
  • Story of SchoolGennie, an Ed ERP startup that failed. Lots of good lessons. Education is a tough vertical to crack for B2B SaaS companies. Hard to find the decision maker.
  • Food startup TinyOwl made Rs. 24,000 ($400) in revenues for FY14-15 and Rs. 44L as interest from FDs from VC investment. Total expenses were Rs. 25.5 crores. A net loss of 25 crores (~$4million).

Learn today

What is ‘Captagon’?
Captagon is a standard amphetamine that was commercially produced and sold until 1980s, when it was banned due to its addictive nature. The drug is ISIS’s favorite drug and is very popular among ISIS recruits and Syrian fighters, many of whom pop the pill before going into battle. The armies in the civil war use the drug for profit.

Did you know?

  • Scientists in the US have trained pigeons to read mammograms to differentiate benign and malignant tissue samples.
  • The second largest diamond was mined in Botswana last week. 1,111 carat. (>$250 million). Looks like an uncut shaving block of alum. The largest one found in 1906 was 3106 carat. It was cut into 9 pieces and is part of, where else, the British crown jewels.
  • Bangkok held the world’s longest half marathon last week when they diverted runners through a wrong turn, making them run an extra 4 miles. Some runners want their money back.
  • Scientists in China discovered bacteria that are resistant to last-resort antibiotics. The gene mcr-1 was found in patients and livestock and might be due to the overuse of collistin (a polymyxin antibiotic) on farm animals. We might be entering a post-antibiotic era.
  • Belgian researchers found that yeast used to ferment can change chocolate aroma. Marks the new era of Chocolate. Belgium – Guns, Diamonds and Chocolates.
  • Paris attackers used AK47s and Kalashnikov-style assault weapons during the shootings last week. But, France has strict gun laws. So, here is how weapons are brought into EU. Russia supplied AK47s, Uzis, bombs and Kalashnikovs during the Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo wars. Although the conflicts ended, the arms didn’t. 6 million assault weapons are reported to have been in the black market.

Did you see?

  • The photo of the leopard shot at the edge of Sanjay Gandhi Park in Mumbai, India, in front of an apartment complex. Mumbai residents use the park during the day and kids play cricket there. Increasing urban overlap of habitat – see also the photo of two leopard cubs roaming on a hilltop with Mumbai cityscape in the background. Shot by photojournalist Steve Winter.
A story this month

Carmen Sandiego Returns was launched on the App store on Friday. I remember playing the board game 25 years back. It’s an old around the world detective game. It was a $2 app and that is not asking much for a classic game. I didn’t exactly need it but I wanted to try. I paid for it and sadly, it crashed every time. A day later, I upgraded the full pack ($5 worth) of the flights and arenas for AirWings, a paper rocket launcher game, through an in-app purchase. And it was great. So, I asked myself what makes an app worth it. This led me to discover that only 6% of all apps are paid for. So, why don’t people pay for apps?

Apparently, it has to do with the fact that people don’t know how the app will be before they buy it. That’s really discouraging for developers to make high grade apps for tablets. When we wonder why iPad isn’t doing well, it’s because it’s a redundant platform for the same apps that can be used on the phone. So, the apps have to be bigger and grander for the iPad. To do that, it has to be rewarding ($$$) for the developer. This won’t happen because people don’t pay without trying. It’s become a vicious circle. Looks like that’s why in-app purchases have become the best way to monetize apps. Not bad for a $7 education. There is a good article on why people don’t pay for apps (with a funny comic) here.

Open Thought
Buying patterns are a function of needs and wants. If the product is a want, people will have the need to touch/feel/hold and own it. Apps are a want. Most digital consumer goods don’t create the value of being owned. Digital music and eBooks are classic examples of why such ‘wants’ are not selling.

 News @Arcluster 
Arcluster  is gearing up to launch a new series of off-the-shelf research briefs that are aimed at providing market data, forecasts and fact charts of large commercial markets. More information on this in the coming weeks. Follow us on twitter (@arcluster) for the latest news from the company.

Folks, that’s it for last week. Good week ahead!

Sustain Weekly Newsletter-16Nov2015

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SUSTAIN WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

A weekly sustainable tech newsletter from a standing desk. – Nov 16, 2015

Here are the top sustainability news I found interesting this week

The Turners

In Tech News

  • NASA’s Hyper-X program is working to turn blueprints of Skreemr, based on scramjet technology, into a commercial aircraft. A plane that can cruise at 7500 mph and go from New York City to Tokyo in 2 hours.
  • A robot can now pick, identify, sort and place fruits based on type or color. Based on machine vision and software. Industrial automation is going through quiet but definitive change.
  • Fossil bought Misfit, a wearable fitness tracker company for $260 million. Got to see if a wearable will save a watch company. Expect more smart watches from other watchmakers.
  • The subject of management case studies – Betamax is finally going through end of life. Betamax was a better standard than VHS. Classic case of why technology prowess and commercialization are not aligned all the time.

Start you up (week’s start-up stories and insights)

Learn today

What is a ‘Pink Flamingo’?
Pink Flamingos are threats that are overly predictable and dangerous but are conveniently ignored. A classic example is the standoff between India and Pakistan where the risk of conflict exists every day. Pink Flamingos are opposites of ‘Black Swans’ – events that are considered improbable but cause enormous consequences.

Know 

Did you know?

  • Eggs are power packed food for weight loss. Yolks too. Also rank high on the Satiety Index.
  • Smoking weed is now a human right in Mexico. Phillip Morris will launch a ‘Marlboro M’ Marijuana Cigarettes in 2016.
  • A synthetic diamond maker is raising capital to make diamonds in a lab. Backed by 10+ celebrities including DiCaprio. You still need VC funds even when you can make diamonds.
  • There is an online breakup marketplace called Breakup Shop that offers breakup notes, emails and calls as a service. Founders say it’s better than bad confrontations or avoidance. I wonder how many repeat customers they will get. I got to admit, it’s got decent pricing.
  • Crayola has launched a new line of coloring books for adults. Adult coloring books topped Amazon’s best sellers last year. They have anti-stress benefits.
  • Indonesia is considering the use of crocodiles to guard prisons. and also tigers and piranhas. They are serious about locking up criminals.
  • SeaWorld in San Diego will end the killer Orca whale shows because of protests against captive marine life.
  • WADA, the anti-doping agency is solving the doping issue with an athlete biological passport. Athletes were outsmarting agencies by their own blood. What it means is that an athlete draws his own blood, stores it in a freezer and after three months reinjects them into the stream, creating more blood. As red blood cells increase, so does the ability to absorb more oxygen. More oxygen with each breath = more energy to burn.

Did you read?

Did you see?

India food startup update
Last week, Shadowfax acquihired Pickingo. I’m mostly done covering the food startup scene. It’ll work in few cases and not in many. I expect some online-only kitchens will emerge in the next year. I think large centralized kitchens and online service might survive more than last mile pure play delivery service over time. The former has better margins. We’ll have to wait and see how this pans or who outlasts whom. I think we have over-analyzed food startups in the last 3-4 weeks. I’m moving on to more interesting markets. If you have a topic suggestion, let me know with a reply.

Open Thought

When you read any article that states you are not the center of the universe because of your relative size with respect to the universe, then it’s a shortsighted view of our existence. Wherever you are is the center because the universe does not have a physical center. Yes, we’re insignificant in size but not in actuality.
News @Arcluster 
Arcluster  is looking to hire 2 interns in the research and marketing functions. If you know an eligible candidate who might be interested, please ask them to check out our careers page to know more about us and why they should join. Follow us on twitter (@arcluster) for the latest news from the company.

Folks, that’s it for last week. Good week ahead!

Sustain Weekly Newsletter-9Nov2015

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SUSTAIN WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

A weekly sustainable tech newsletter from a standing desk. – Nov 9, 2015

Here are the top sustainability news I found interesting this week

  • Researchers in Japan have developed a sturdy-like-steel glass. Made from Alumina + Silicon Di oxide. Commercialization in 5 years.
  • Japanese firm Spiber has developed an artificial spider-web called Qmonos, made from reprogramming bacteria to produce Fibroin, the structural protein in spider silk. The company has partnered with The North Face to develop a protective jacket for wearers in Antarctica. Spider Silk is 5x stronger than steel and 3x stronger than Kevlar.
  • Chinese biotech company Revotek builds stem-cell first 3D blood vessel printer. A way to transport nutrients to an artificial organ.
  • Architecture Student from IaaC, Spain has developed a ‘Living Screen’, a 3D printed algae structure built from aerial algae that can live without a constant flow of water.
  • Researchers at CIT, Pasadena have developed glasses that can turn images into sound that blind people can understand. These smart dark glasses is built on a system that coverts pixels into sound, and maps brightness and location to pitch and volume

In Tech News

  • Alphabet/Google wants to do consumer delivery drones by 2017. Joins Amazon in the commercial drone race.
  • Microsoft dumped unlimited OneDrive storage offering for its paid office 365 users. Apparently, some users over-consumed it. Not good enough economics for the freemium model.
  • Amazon opened its first bookstore in Seattle. Globally, ebook readership is falling. 2-3 years back, I argued that some of the ecom players should open physical outlets. We’re now seeing that with Amazon in Seattle and Lenskart in India. Physical outlets will be useful to handhold online experience and customer service, while promoting white label goods.

Start you up (week’s start-up stories and insights)

Learn today

What is a ‘Paywall’?
A paywall is a media arrangement where access is restricted to users who have paid to subscribe to the site. You will encounter them in articles across news sites such as WSJ, NYT etc.

Know 

Did you know?

  • Dancing with friends is good for your health. Apparently, it raises pain tolerance and boosts social bonding. Makes sense why Ringa Ringa Roses was popular in KG.
  • Crows gather around during big meals and collaborate to solve bigger community problems.Isn’t that amazing?
  • Guinness will soon offer a vegan version of its classic stout. Moving away from the use of insinglass, a gelatin that was obtained from dried fish bladder.
  • Walmart has to remove its ‘Made in USA’ label from its website. Truth in Advertising found 100 examples of goods wrongly advertised. >70% of products produced in China. Walmart plans to source an additional $250 billion in US made products during a 10-year period.
  • 9 out of 10 popular websites you use are selling your data. Big social players don’t offer a direct setting to opt in for Do not Track, except for Twitter. Unfortunately, they aren’t doing so fell Wall St. wise and maybe bought by one of the big social.
  • Twitter swapped its stars and favorites to hearts and likes. They look so-so, but people will get used to it. I’m not a fan of the ‘heart’ likes. If I make an app, I’m going to make a fist bump icon for upvoting.

Did you read?

Did you see?

India food startup update
  • The biggest news last week is the TinyOwl co-founder hostage Saga in Pune. TinyOwl raised more funds, fired more people and shut down 3 offices. Pune employees apparently held a co-founder in the office for 2 days. The incident is covered in detail here. TinyOwl now operates only in Mumbai and Bangalore
  • Curtain closing on Pickingo. Zomato didn’t go through with the investment they claimed in a PR statement. They don’t have much cash to operate. Its reverse logistics business might be picked up by a competitor soon. 20+ startups in this space; less than a handful are funded. Food delivery and logistics scene is overcrowded, overfunded and unprofitable.
So, here is a cohort % that’s driving some founders mad. On an average, if your customer buys from you beyond 3 months, he/she might buy again for 12 months or beyond. This happens at least 60% of the time. Startups interpret this cohort by investing heavily in discounts to create retention and for three months in the hope that you’ll stay and continue to buy from them. This is one of the major reasons why most food startups lose so much to create the. But there is a huge difference between discounts and loyalty; Especially in India, where a customer easily understands and exploits the difference.

Open Thought

When you own the product, own the platform and own the delivery, you can control quality, experience and customer service–three of the most important factors for customer retention and loyalty. I’m planning to start answering questions concerning future tech and market research on Quora. Here is my profile.
News @Arcluster 
Arcluster has signed an agreement with Global Information, Inc (GII) to resell its studies and trackers in Japan, Korea and China exclusively.  Out latest drone study is now available at GII here. Look forward to more drone studies in the future.. Subscribe to our media alerts to be informed. You can also follow us on twitter @arcluster for latest news from the company.

Folks, that’s it for last week. Good week ahead!

Sustain Weekly Newsletter-2Nov2015

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SUSTAIN WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

A weekly sustainable tech newsletter from a standing desk. – Nov 2, 2015

Here are the top sustainability news I found interesting this week

In Tech News

Start you up (week’s start-up stories and insights)

Learn today

What are Microplastics?
Microplastics are small plastic materials in the environment that are between 1 and 5 mm. They are used in cosmetics, scrubs etc to scrub away dead cells. They can absorb persistent organic pollutants and get through water treatment facilities unnoticed. Consider getting cosmetics and soaps that doesn’t contain microbeads. Here is a list of products (.pdf) that contain microbeads. Start with the scrubs.

Know 

Did you know?

  • Most table salt is full of microplastics. Study in China tested quantity of microplastics in table salt from sea salt and found it to be high. Microplastics maybe also found in Shellfish.
  • China abandoned its one child policy after 35 years. Greater than 10% of population is over 65. Lots of parents going no-kid route. The intended baby boom might not happen.
  • Caffeine may help curb depression a bit. Have a cup of coffee when you feel a bit down.
  • Nail polishes could be leaching toxins into your bloodstream. Some popular nail paints contain a suspected endocrine disruptor called TPHP.
  • You shouldn’t refrigerate bread in a plastic bag. Sliced breads become hard and stale over time. Putting that in the fridge will fasten the process. A better way to do it is to buy whole loaves, cut away what you need and put the rest in an airtight container in the freezer.
  • Why a lot of people pay to get scared. Basically, it triggers great flight-or-fight response with a release of higher levels of dopamine, endorphins and adrenalin in a safe environment. Brain high. ScareHouse, a haunted house in Pittsburgh gets 3,000 customers a night in peak season before Halloween.
  • Fathers in South Korea go to a Durrano Fathers School where they learn how to hug their kids. Basically, they teach how not to be absent.

Did you read?

  • If you’re trying to be a growth hacker (a role where you multiply user growth quickly in a startup), you should try ‘Growth Hacker Marketing’ by Ryan Holiday. It’s a quick read.
India food startup update
The plight of food startups in India is worsening. End of the honeymoon period. Food and delivery startups have begun to consolidate in India.
  • Grofers acquired Spoonjoy and Townrush last week. Calling it an acqui-hire. Which means, no significant cash or equity is being exchanged.
  • TinyOwl raised $7.7 million last week. One of the few ones to get more capital. But that’s after they laid off 160 employees in Bangalore, Pune last month. This gives them a year for managing costs and make some revenue.
  • Swiggy (Bangalore) has stated that they don’t believe in a heavy discounting model. They increased delivery rates and cut down discounts. Not surprising. One way of trying to get out of a maze.
  • Most of these startups have begun to outsource last mile connectivity to delivery partners such as Roadrunnr. This helps saves hiring costs but increases vendor costs.
It’s a game of economics. If you’re a food startup, it’s better if you own the food, own the platform, own the delivery. Kind of the Apple way of doing all of the hardware, software and services.

Open Thought

Less costly and more convenient solutions cause disruption. But what creates sustenance is revenue and profitability. When startups want to uberfy, their focus should more on economics than on technology
News @Arcluster 
Arcluster has partnered with research resellers to promote its research studies to a global audience. You can now procure our latest farm drones market report from our reseller partners ResearchandMarketsand Market Publishers. We are also in talks with a couple of leading distributors to bring our studies to the Asian markets in Japan and Korea. Follow us on twitter @arcluster for latest news from the company. Subscribe to our media alerts to be informed.

Folks, that’s it for last week. Good week ahead!