Intro and Part #1 (Tech Jobs)

Note: (Views expressed in this article are my personal views only and not representative of my current employer)

Introduction

I’m writing today from my hometown of Austin, Texas which has lately been the center of attention in the tech world as luminaries, companies, and regular working people alike have decided to relocate (or are looking to) here from the Bay Area. I moved here when I was 1, so I’m not quite native but close. I can still remember the days of the old Mueller airport, eating at the original Torchy’s Taco truck and P. Terry’s burger stand (when there was just 1 of each around), and driving 3 hours to Houston just to shop at a large Asian supermarket (this is entirely unnecessary now that H-Mart and 99 Ranch are here). I previously was living in San Francisco (and still plan to return in the spring) and spent about 3 years there. …


Since COVID-19 shutdowns began in mid-March, I’ve been making weekly runs to Target to pick up various goods. One of the things I’ve also been tracking is the availability of and selection of four pandemic related products: hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, masks, and toilet paper. All four share the characteristic of experience demand spikes due to COVID-19, but aside from this similarity, they are incredibly different markets/industries.

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The goods :)

I’ll explore these differences in more depth later on in this article, their implications for the strategy of competitors, and my own projection of what the industry will look like post-COVID. …


This is the start of a three-part series on the future of online grocery. The series will cover the following topics:

  1. Profitability challenges and solutions
  2. Competitive landscape
  3. Technology and HR strategy

Online grocery shopping has overnight made its way from the sidelines to the starting lineup due to the impact of COVID-19. Both delivery and curbside pickup have experienced unprecedented demand in every type of grocery store, from mainstream to organic to ethnic. …


Strava workout summary at Golden Gate Park
Strava workout summary at Golden Gate Park
My run yesterday morning

A few days ago, I, like many other athletes across the world, received an interesting note from the founders of Strava notifying us of some changes they were going to make. It wasn’t really clear what was happening until a few paragraphs down when the TLDR became clear — Strava is losing money, many key free features are now going to be only available if you pay, this will help them make money and survive. The main feature that was taken away from free users is the leaderboard for segments, you can no longer compare your performance to others cycling/running the same routes unless you pay. …


This past Sunday morning, I went to get my haircut at QB House at Columbus Circle here in New York. QB House is a Japanese haircut chain with over 640 stores mostly in East Asia. They recently began expansion into the US market and currently operate three locations in Manhattan. Their core value proposition is delivering quality haircuts in a clean environment at an affordable price of $20 in <15 minutes.

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QB House at Columbus Circle

I really enjoy getting my haircuts at QB House and this last visit was no different, except for one to be covered aspect. …


I recently returned from a trip to China where I liberally used the Dianping app to identify the best places to eat at. Dianping (or Meituan, depending on which you use, they seem pretty much the same to me…), can be used just like Yelp in the US, though in my opinion the data they provide is far superior and helps diners make much better decisions resulting in greater happiness from eating. It’s also way more than just a restaurant review app (more on that later).

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Logo-Meituan Dianping


老干妈 Lao Gan Ma (LGM, for short) is a popular Chinese chili oil brand and has recently started gaining popularity in the US as somewhat of a “cult favorite” in mainstream America as well as being a staple for Chinese diaspora households. The brand has even begun to make its way to the shelves of Walmart. Yearly global sales are estimated to be as of 2016 $655M.

The backstory for LGM is an entrepreneurship classic, LGM means “Old Godmother” in Chinese, and legend has it that LGM (real name, Tao Huabi) began her business as a noodle shop but realized that people sometimes came just to buy the chili oil, so she “pivoted” (to use Silicon Valley speak) her business to selling chili oil, and the rest is history. …


I enjoy eating Big Macs (there is something special about two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun that just can’t be replicated anywhere else), but really don’t find buying them at full price particularly worth my while, so my visits to McDonald’s are typically few and far between.

About two months ago I went to McDonald’s on a whim and discovered a fantastic new deal (presumably limited time offer), the $6 Classic Meal Deal. I can get a Big Mac, small fries, drink, and pie(!) all for $6! …


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The Original

Two weeks ago I finally had the chance to visit the original Halal Guys on 53rd street. My visit was actually unplanned, I was on my way to the MOMA, saw the cart and decided to make an impromptu stop. I’ve had Halal Guys in other cities before and always came away thoroughly unimpressed (though always sweating thanks to their famous hot sauce!). The original Halal Guys was another story, the rice was fluffy and the meat succulently moist, and even though I scarfed my meal down standing up, it was a transformative experience and I now know why all the New Yorkers say there is nothing like the original. There really isn’t. …


I was introduced to Slack when I first joined a startup in San Francisco. Coming from the corporate world where Skype and other Microsoft products were the de-facto choices for corporate communication, Slack was a breath of fresh air that I adopted with gusto. The first two days had a bit of a learning curve, but after that, I was converted into a super Slack fan.

Even though I’ve used Slack at my last two companies, I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly it was about it that set it apart from other enterprise communication applications until I arrived at Columbia Business School and discovered, much to my delight, that the school was introducing Slack as the official communication platform. Honestly, I hadn’t actually thought that educational institutions were a potential customer for Slack until seeing it being introduced at CBS. The school had previously been on Groupme. It was interesting to see the adoption curve from Groupme to Slack as there were pockets of people that “resisted” the change, but now that it’s been more than a month, full adoption is nearly complete. …

About

Andrew Shi

Retail, consumer goods, and technology aficionado. Fitness enthusiast. Proud Texas Longhorn and Columbia Biz MBA.

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