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Summary: Our current food systems, from production to consumption, is one of the most ineffective supply chains. As Earth’s population is growing, we should consider how technological and cultural changes could have a positive impact.

Between 33–50% of all food produced globally is never eaten. As such, the yearly value of wasted food exceeds $1 trillion. To put that in perspective with the overall economy, food waste in the US alone represents 1.3% of total GDP.

In this article, I’d like to discuss the cultural — and technological challenges as well as the opportunities related to improving the food waste problem. …


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There is no doubt that we’ve moved into the age of customers. Industries are turned upside down, as new concepts emerge that better fulfill consumer needs. Just ask retailers what Amazon’s free shipping and returns have meant to the industry.

The power balance between consumers and corporations have shifted. Everyone with a $100 smartphone can effortlessly find products, evaluate companies based on reviews, and share their brand experience. As obvious as this shift might be, many companies have yet to adapt and become truly customer-centric organizations. The financial sector is a good example. The last few years, a growing number of fin-tech entrepreneurs have set out to build the customer friendly solutions that the existing players have failed to develop. Yet, customer experience is increasingly on corporations’ radar. According to Google Trends, searches for customer experience have doubled over the last 6 years. …


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When we think back to the state of technology a decade or two ago, it wasn’t clear how drastically personal computing would change our lives.

Today, the distance between humans and technology is still on an upward trending curve that is difficult for us to predict. In the pursuit of less friction between computers and humans — what could the solutions look like in the future?

Lately, I’ve done some research about Brain-Computer Interfaces. In short, a brain-computer interface (BCI) is a direct communication pathway between a brain and an external device. …


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Encouraged by peers, I’ve decided to share some of my lessons from co-founding FreeBike Project. For those of you who don’t know FreeBike Project, we offered year-long free bike leases to student influencers in return for executing an outdoor and social media campaign. A win-win for students and for advertisers.

During our operating days from 2013 to 2015, we reached more than a thousand students in the US and overseas on campuses including Stanford, Harvard, USC, Northwestern, University of Washington and many others. I’d like to use this opportunity to thank all our clients, mentors and friends— especially the ones who believed in us from the early days. …


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According to traditional bottom line accounting, Facebook looked like a horrible investment in the first 5 years of operation as expenses far exceeded revenues. However, user behavior metrics painted a completely different picture of the business. In fact, daily active users grew from 1 million in 2004 to 100 million by 2008. Today, Facebook is worth roughly $340 billion, making it one of the world’s largest tech companies.

In short, this case exemplifies why traditional methods, applied by established businesses, to measure investments is not always ideal with new concepts — at least not in the short term. For VP’s this is a critical point to understand. …


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Conversational interface, the ability for users to interact with computers in natural human language, was one of the most hyped technologies last year. Articles circulated online describing how bots, in the future, will help us with everything from booking meetings, sending timely weather notifications, curating news, tracking packages, to ordering flowers for our loved ones.

In the scenario that the technology lives up to these expectations, it will be a transformative change in how we shop, consume information and interact with devices around us. In the long run, this shift would impact products and services from B2C and B2B companies. …


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The Hello Tomorrow Summit is a technology conference focused on bringing together selected technology thought leaders and 50 cutting edge startups from more than 3000 applications to Paris. The 50 startups from ten different categories all compete for the grand prize of 100,000 Euro. Vertical Strategy was invited to attend the summit as innovators and we’d like to share what we noticed at the summit — here are our top 6 take aways.

DNA is the next silicon
Since the dawn of time, humans have shaped nature by carefully selecting grains and mammals based on their characteristics. Because of this selection we’re able to enjoy the company of dogs, a special breed of wolves, and fruits and vegetables designed for our consumption. …


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2016 is turning out to be a big year for virtual reality. However, people’s opinion of VR is still divided: Some think it is a fad, while others believe it will transform our society. The skepticism is understandable. The hype of new technologies often fails to live up to our short term expectations. Sometimes it’s because the evolution just takes longer than initially anticipated. Sometimes it’s because the expectations were based on faulty assumptions. 3D printing is a recent example. …


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At a time when digital technology is transforming one industry after another, many tend to view innovation as the result of breakthrough discoveries, powered by technology wizards. This belief, combined with the industry ‘folk tales’ of businesses overthrown overnight due to disruptive technologies, leads to most people concluding that: “We don’t know how to do this”. This story, however, is in most cases in-accurate. In fact, most startup successes grow because of how they improve customer experiences, enabled by existing technologies, but in new ways. To give an example: Uber did not become a global player because they developed a mobile, peer-to-peer app, with a perfect marketplace pricing model. Uber grew because they created a solution that was able to provide a superior experience while saving consumers time and money. …


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In the wake of the recent social media storm, you probably know that Uber is launching its driverless fleet in Pittsburg by now…

Pittsburg was chosen because many of the leading experts in autonomous robots are from the local university, Carnegie Mellon (CMU). In fact, Uber has been heavily recruiting engineers from CMU to work on the audacious vision of replacing more than one million human drivers for quite a while.

… But why is Volvo their partner?

When I heard the news, I was expecting an innovative automaker such as Tesla or someone with large market dominance like General Motors. Volvo was hardly top of mind. However, once I started to think about the different associations of individual car brands it started to make sense. …

About

Johan Bender

I enjoy pondering about the potential and challenges of new tech and ideas: www.johanbender.com

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