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He Grew Up on a Farm. Now, He Helps Protect Them.
Oct. 3, 2019 | The New York Times | By Norman Mayersohn.

Books: Warren Buffett biography, “Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist,”

Few livelihoods offer as many paths to failure as agriculture. Throughout history, farmers have been at the mercy of nature — be it weather, pests or crop diseases — even as the survival of people and livestock depended on their success...... Thomas Njeru, is a co-founder and the chief financial officer of Pula, a four-year-old microinsurance firm that serves 1.7 million smallholder farms of 0.6 acres or less in 10 African countries and India. Microinsurance — think of it as an offshoot of the microloan programs that kick-start businesses in impoverished areas — provides protection for low-income individuals who do not have access to conventional coverage....Pula, based in Nairobi, Kenya, partners with government agencies and loan providers to cover the cost of the insurance, which is included in the price of seed and fertilizer; there is no direct charge to the farmer. Among the coverages Pula provides is weather index insurance to cover failures of seed germination, using satellite data to determine whether there has been sufficient rainfall. Longer-term coverage, called yield index insurance, compensates farmers with replacement supplies in the event of a poor harvest......People in Africa don't invest in agriculture because the chance of them losing their money due to the vagaries of the weather is huge.........Pula’s mission is to give farmers confidence by providing risk mitigation. Our solutions protect a farmer’s investment by pairing it with insurance. We build business cases to persuade Fortune 500 companies, seed and fertilizer suppliers, lending institutions, and governments in Africa, that embedded insurance will help deliver better results for both businesses and food security....The sad reality is that farmers are one drought or one disease outbreak away from sliding into absolute poverty......the penetration of agriculture insurance in Africa is less than 1 percent. The reason is that insurance companies’ business models are not set up to serve the unique needs of smallholder farmers......scaling Pula’s business model to the point that insured seed and fertilizer become ubiquitous in the market......The average annual insurance premium per farmer is about $3 to $5. This includes the cost of product development, pricing, underwriting, claim adjustment and, of course, the claim costs. We use artificial intelligence, mobile-based registration systems, remote sensing and automation tools...Agriculture insurance is a cemetery of pilots and trials..
Africa  agriculture  behavioral_change  books  Bottom_of_the_Pyramid  crop_insurance  farming  insurance  Kenya  low-income  microfinance  mobile_applications  poverty  precarious  Pula  seeds  smallholders  start_ups  risks  risk-mitigation  Warren_Buffett  weather 
12 days ago by jerryking
Tech groups push ‘chat commerce’ to western shoppers
SEPTEMBER 23 2019 | Financial Times | by Patrick McGee in San Francisco.

From wishing a friend happy birthday to contacting a colleague about a meeting, text messaging is central to much of 21st-century life, with one glaring exception: commerce....the potential for brands to engage with customers and sell goods using pithy, personalised messages is vast. On the Chinese app WeChat, 170m people browse for products — and pay for them — every day on more than 600,000 “mini-programs” within the app. They hail cabs, buy groceries, book doctor’s appointments and even get tourism recommendations through real-time crowdsourcing.

Now, after a series of failed starts, so-called conversational commerce may be set to gain traction in the west, as a host of tech companies attempt to follow WeChat’s lead.

In its new iOS 13 software update, Apple is prompting users on its iPhones who attempt to make a call to companies such as Burberry, Hilton and Verizon to “start a Business Chat instead, so you can interact with a business from a text instead of waiting on hold”.

Apple Business Chat, which was first announced in 2017, lets consumers communicate directly with brands within the Messages app — usually via sophisticated artificial intelligence chatbots — enabling them to ask questions about products and pay for them through Apple Pay, which is integrated into the platform......

‘There is no shortage of demand’

Proponents say the reason texting works in commerce is the simplicity and intimacy of the experience. Consider what happens when a flight is cancelled, causing 200 people to suddenly need to make new plans. Customer service is bombarded; passengers are left waiting on hold. Instead, an airline could let each person text their preferences, then put their phone away as an answer is worked on.

“The idea that [customer service] has to be this synchronous thing where you settle down for a 10-minute conversation on the phone is ridiculous,” said Charles Golvin, researcher at Gartner. “The actual aggregate amount of time you need might be 30 seconds.”.....Making customers feel they are engaging with an individualised service that responds quickly with helpful answers is critical. Instead of hiring a massive staff to respond to each and every query, companies are deploying AI to field customer questions using chatbots, though these can defer to human employees when necessary.

Into the west

So far, attempts to bring conversational commerce to the west have received a lot of hype but little traction. Three years ago, after Uber integrated ride-hailing into Facebook Messenger, product designer Chris Messina hailed 2016 as “the year of conversational commerce” — a prediction that never materialised.

“I don’t think ‘fail’ is too harsh — the uptake of commerce through messaging in the US has been dismal,” Mr Golvin said.

Nevertheless, momentum is beginning to pick up, with sales volume tripling in the past three years, led by in-app messaging within Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Brian Long, chief executive of Attentive, a Sequoia-backed start-up building text platforms for more than 400 brands ranging from Jack in the Box fast food to luxury apparel brand Coach, said it is becoming clear that email marketing does not work, especially among younger people.....Apple declined to say how many brands are participating on Business Chat, but a deal inked earlier this year enabled all 800,000 online merchants on Shopify to engage with customers over text and transact with Apple Pay.

Michael Perry, director of product for conversational offerings at Shopify, said brands using text to engage with customers are building trust that translates into higher spending habits.

“You’re more likely to pay a premium [for] a brand you like,” he said. “And messaging, more than any other medium, powers that.
Apple  brands  chat  chatbots  conversational_commerce  messaging  mobile_applications  Shopify  text_messages  WeChat 
26 days ago by jerryking
How to step back and rethink your career goals
SEPTEMBER 17, 2019 | Financial Times | by Elizabeth Uviebinene.

Mobile apps: Wunderlist and Trello.
Podcasts on the “back to life” mindset: How to Fail with Elizabeth Day, Better Life Lab and Without Fail
Newsletters: The Roundup by Otegha Uwagba

Autumn now brings a sense of trepidation — it can be an unsettling time for those who are starting new opportunities and a source of anxiety for those who feel stuck in a rut while others move on......I look at autumn a little differently, seeing it as a time to reset and an opportunity to make small changes to my routine without the cynicism that is attached to new year’s resolutions...... a little refresh now can go a long way...... it’s more about making time to check in with them, to realign and reprioritize.......The first step is to check in on your long-term goals, the ones you want to achieve in a few years. Is your current trajectory aligning with those goals? If not, why not? What can you implement today to get you back on track?....write down what you’ve achieved this year and positioning it within the overall business objectives that show your individual impact......journal when it comes to both long-term and weekly career planning. Spending time writing down objectives and reflecting on how best to get there in the coming weeks and months can provide a sense of control......prioritizing is essential to maintaining a healthy work and life balance. Journal five goals for the next four months and then place them in priority order, cross off the bottom three, to leave the two most important ones. That's where to focus one's time and energy......."Find your tribe”. A sense of community is key to battling the loneliness that this time of year can bring. This could be done online by signing up to a newsletter, or via community groups and live events....Attend conferences.....use this time of year to consider making a career change, aiming for the next promotion or starting a side project, ....reflect, plot and plan on how best to get there. Sneaking small changes into our working life can make all the difference.
autumn  conferences  goals  howto  journaling  long-term  Managing_Your_Career  mindsets  mobile_applications  networking  podcasts  priorities  reflections  résumés  self-organization  sense_of_control  tribes  work_life_balance 
4 weeks ago by jerryking
3 reasons why restaurants need mobile, cloud technology | FastCasual
April 14, 2014

Google: "cloud computing" fast food franchises
digital-first restaurants valuations
cloud_computing  mobile_applications  mobile_phones  restaurants  virtual_restaurants 
5 weeks ago by jerryking
Five ways to avoid ever forgetting to pack something again
September 1, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | DOMINI CLARK.

THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
If you haven’t travelled for some time, turn to the pros – which in this case means apps that help you pack. One to try is Packr, which generates a detailed list once you provide information such as your gender (male or female), whether the trip is for business or leisure, what activities you will be participating in (such as hiking, photography or formal dinner) and accommodation type (including cruise).

DIY LIST
Of course, we all have particular tastes and needs, so investing the time to create your own list might be worth it. If you’re a hard copy sort of person, create a multi-use grid-type version with items in the first column, followed by multiple columns for your “done" checkmarks. This style works particularly well in bullet journals.

NEVER UNPACK
Not completely, at least. If you have duplicates of certain items, simply keep them in your suitcase (after you’ve laundered them, if applicable) so they’re always ready to go. Some suggestions: an old bathing suit, a spare phone charger, basic toiletries, an umbrella, ear plugs and an empty water bottle. (This is an excellent use of all that free branded stuff you get at conferences and trade shows.)

VISUAL CUES
For things you can’t spare to keep stowed away, create visual cues. An eyeglass case reminds contact-lens wearers to pack a backup pair. A shoe bag makes sure you don’t forget heels. Other ideas include a jewellery roll, labelled packing cubes (underwear, shirts, etc) and your camera instruction manual (assuming you’re not using it regularly).

LEARN FROM DOING
Inevitably on some trip you will wish you had brought some item it had never occurred to you to pack before. Nail clippers, for instance, or perhaps a clothespin (great for keeping curtains closed). When that happens update your packing list straight away if possible, or set a reminder task to do so when you return home. Even better, toss one in before the bag goes back in the closest so it’s there for next time.
DIY  lists  lessons_learned  mobile_applications  packing  travel  tips  visual_cues 
6 weeks ago by jerryking
The Rise of the Virtual Restaurant
Aug. 14, 2019 | The New York Times | By Mike Isaac and David Yaffe-Bellany.

Virtual restaurants” exist with no physical storefronts, tables or chairs. They exist only inside a mobile app, like Uber Eats, the on-demand meal delivery service owned by Uber......Food delivery apps like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub are starting to reshape the $863 billion American restaurant industry. As more people order food to eat at home, and as delivery becomes faster and more convenient, the apps are changing the very essence of what it means to operate a restaurant.

No longer must restaurateurs rent space for a dining room. All they need is a kitchen — or even just part of one. Then they can hang a shingle inside a meal-delivery app and market their food to the app’s customers, without the hassle and expense of hiring waiters or paying for furniture and tablecloths. Diners who order from the apps may have no idea that the restaurant doesn’t physically exist.

The shift has popularized two types of digital culinary establishments. One is “virtual restaurants,” which are attached to real-life restaurants like Mr. Lopez’s Top Round but make different cuisines specifically for the delivery apps. The other is “ghost kitchens,” which have no retail presence and essentially serve as a meal preparation hub for delivery orders.

“Online ordering is not a necessary evil. It’s the most exciting opportunity in the restaurant industry today,”....Many of the delivery-only operations are nascent, but their effect may be far-reaching, potentially accelerating people’s turn toward order-in food over restaurant visits and preparing home-cooked meals.

Uber and other companies are driving the change. Since 2017, the ride-hailing company has helped start 4,000 virtual restaurants with restaurateurs which are exclusive to its Uber Eats app.....Uber Eats analyzes neighborhood sales data to identify unmet demand for particular cuisines (e.g. "there is demand for late-night orders of burgers and ice cream in your area"). Then it approaches restaurants that use the app and encourages them to create a virtual restaurant to meet that demand.....Restaurants that use delivery apps like Uber Eats and Grubhub pay commissions of 15 percent to as much as 30 percent on every order......Delivery apps may also undermine the connection between diner and chef. ....Delivery-only facilities “take away the emotional connection and the creative redemption.”....In Europe, the food-delivery app Deliveroo also started testing ghost kitchens.....Ghost kitchens have also emerged in China, where online food delivery apps are widely used in the country’s densely populated megacities.
brands  DoorDash  commercial_kitchens  emotional_connections  food_delivery  kitchens  mobile_applications  restaurants  Uber_Eats  GrubHub  on-demand  unmet_demand  virtual_restaurants 
7 weeks ago by jerryking
Have Work, Will Travel
July 3, 2019 | The New York Times | By Karen Schwartz.
gig_economy  job_boards  mobile_applications  travel 
july 2019 by jerryking
How non-engineer Stewart Butterfield reached top of Silicon Valley
JUNE 21, 2019 | Financial Times | by Richard Waters in San Francisco.

Silicon Valley loves its engineer-founders. They are members of the region’s highest caste, the entrepreneurs trusted to turn bits and bytes into the next hit digital products, and the people venture capitalists most like to back.

Stewart Butterfield, co-founder and chief executive of the workplace chat app Slack, is not one of them. He stands out as a philosophy major in a start-up world full of software engineers, a non-techie who has made it to the top of the tech heap......Slack’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange this week has cemented his reputation as one of the Valley’s most creative product designers — and values his own stake in the company at $1.6bn.

“He is your quintessential, product-oriented founder-leader,” ......In a nod to an unconventional streak in Mr Butterfield’s personality that separates him from the herd, Mr Levie adds: “He has just the right level of quirkiness.”.....Butterfield got a philosophy degree at the University of Victoria, followed by a master of philosophy at Cambridge, before being bitten by the internet bug at the end of the 1990s and moving to Silicon Valley........Pressed on how he can withstand the Microsoft onslaught, Mr Butterfield defaults to the quiet, analytical self-assurance. “There has been a long history of the small, focused start-up taking on the large incumbent with multiple lines of business and being successful” — starting, he added, with a small and scrappy Microsoft itself taking on the giant IBM.
artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  CEOs  chat  craftsmanship  engineering  Flickr  founders  mobile_applications  product_design  product-orientated  quirky  Richard_Waters  Silicon_Valley  Slack  start_ups  Stewart_Butterfield  workplaces 
june 2019 by jerryking
Slack aims to be ‘great connector’ ahead of US IPO
June 17, 2019 | Financial Times | by Richard Waters in San Francisco.
chat  collaboration  e-mail  grouping  mobile_applications  platforms  Slack  teams 
june 2019 by jerryking
With the iPhone Sputtering, Apple Bets Its Future on TV and News
March 25, 2019 | WSJ | By Tripp Mickle.

The iPhone is running out of juice. To go beyond the device that made Apple Inc. a global colossus, Tim Cook is betting on a suite of services—marking the company’s biggest shift in more than a decade......Apple will take a giant leap forward announcing video- and news-subscription services that it hopes will generate billions of dollars in new annual revenue and deepen ties between iPhone users and the company.....apps and services, from Spotify to Netflix to China’s WeChat , have often become more important to users than the devices that run them. .....The company’s ambition in video is to become an alternative to cable, combining original series with shows from other networks to create a new entertainment service that can reach more than 100 markets world-wide. ....Apple hasn’t said what it will charge for the programming. .....The original series will be delivered in a new TV app that staff have been calling a Netflix killer.....Apple has been negotiating to bring its new TV app to multiple platforms, including Roku and smart TVs.........Apple plans to showcase a revamped News app that includes a premium tier with access to more than 200 magazines—including Bon Appétit, People and Glamour—as well as newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal.....The Washington Post and New York Times aren’t participating in the new app...... in the early 2000s, co-founder Steve Jobs reinvented the company by pushing it into mobile devices. The iPod and its accompanying iTunes service revived a company that was largely dependent on Mac computer sales....Mr. Cook is attempting a similar feat in the approaching twilight of the smartphone era....Cook wanted to know which apps were selling well, how many Apple Music subscribers stuck with the service, and how many people were signing up for iCloud storage.....Apple’s biggest source of services revenue comes from distributing other companies’ software through its App Store.....Apple’s music-streaming service has about 50 million global subscribers—far behind Spotify’s 96 million.

Apple’s base of 1.4 billion iPhones, iPads and Macs in use globally gives it a distribution platform..................The push into news subscriptions could help Apple battle Facebook, whose News Feed has helped it become the No. 1 app world-wide in monthly active smartphone users.....Facebook is attempting to become a super-app like China’s WeChat, which allows users to shop, order food, buy movie tickets and make reservations on any mobile operating system......Steve Jobs foreshadowed Apple’s services future when he started iTunes in 2001, offering categories from competing major labels to make the first successful digital-music store, with songs available for 99 cents.

For Mr. Cook’s monthly services meetings, the company monitors of apps that benefit and threaten Apple. There is a "release radar" for Cook to track apps that are expected to sell well and other metrics for the apps that have challenged Apple’s business, including iTunes sales decreases compared with Apple Music subscription growth.
App_Store  Apple  Apple_IDs  Apple_Music  big_bets  CEOs  cloud_computing  Disney  iCloud  iPhone  iTunes  magazines  mobile_applications  multiplatforms  Netflix  news  NYT  original_content  pivots  platforms  services  smartphones  Spotify  storage  streaming  subscriptions  television  Tim_Cook  WaPo  WeChat 
march 2019 by jerryking
Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret
DEC. 10, 2018 | The New York Times | By JENNIFER VALENTINO-DeVRIES, NATASHA SINGER, MICHAEL H. KELLER and AARON KROLIK.
location_based_services  mobile_applications  mobile_phones  privacy  surveillance  tracking 
december 2018 by jerryking

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