Eliminating Waste, Trolling Your Competition, and the Fax Machines of Israel

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Good Friday Morning,

DAYLIGHT  

Fast Company has named Sweetgreen one of the most innovative companies in America in part because of its approach to waste: “With 91 restaurants in eight states and a network of 150 farmers across the country, Sweetgreen has created a fast-casual, farm-to-table empire that’s poised to expand by (at least) another 15 outposts this year.

“Sweetgreen ditched its rounded takeout bowl last summer for a compostable hexagonal one. The wider, shallower receptacles allow customers to toss their salads themselves, which enabled restaurants to eliminate metal mixing bowls from their production lines. This keeps customers moving through the stores more quickly and saves water (less dishwashing) and lost produce. Sweetgreen estimates that this adjustment saved more than half a million pounds of food waste last year alone.”

STARTUPS

Based in Texas, ElecTrip offers customers a greener, less expensive alternative to short air travel: a long-distance, door-to-door shuttle service employing a fleet of Teslas: “ElecTrip is aiming at what it sees as a sweet spot in pricing between ride-sharing services and airline travel. Hopping on a plane could be faster, but with the additional security and hassle, taking a door-to-door shuttle could be a more appealing offering, especially if the service can hit a lower price point.

“Airline travel also comes with a massive emissions footprint that electric transportation is able to improve upon. The price for the service ranges from $200 for the 1 hour and 20-minute run from Austin to San Antonio all the way up to $430 for the 3½ hour slog from Houston to Dallas.”

So far, Electrip has decided to buy just two Teslas. “In order to grow its capacity beyond those two vehicles, the company is reaching out to private owners and asking to rent their vehicles from them for the day as needed. In exchange, owners will get $100 to $175 per day, depending on the number of miles put on their vehicle while it was out.”

Brooklyn-based Launcher has developed what it says is the world’s largest rocket engine 3D-printed in a single piece: The E-2 engine, printed by AMCM’s M4K printer, “is the key next step in Launcher’s plan if test flights are to begin in 2024. It’s a ‘closed cycle’ combustion system, which [Launcher founder Matt] Haot said is ‘the most powerful’ engine system. This is the same approach that SpaceX’s new Raptor engine uses, to eke out [as much] efficiency from an engine as possible.

“The 3D printing parts will also help Launcher’s development timeline. AMCM took ‘about a week’ to print the E-2 engine, said AMCM’s head of sales, Christian Waizenegger. This makes M4K the first of its kind, as it combines high-quality machining with the ability to print large parts.”

TECHNOLOGY

Despite its booming tech sector, Israel, which is known as Startup Nation, remains surprisingly low tech: “Fax machines remain an important part of life, buying a book online can take weeks and most banking issues can be dealt with only in person at the branch where an account was opened. Natalie Blenford, a British-Israeli actress in Tel Aviv, said she cried in the bank after waiting hours to set up an account. ‘That’s the paradox of Israel. A modern country with one foot in the future, one foot in the Bible,’ Ms. Blenford said.”

MARKETING

Burger King’s marketers are becoming expert trolls, as seen with the brand poking fun at KFC by calling its newest grilled chicken sandwich the K.F.G.: “‘When we’re talking about flame grilling chicken there’s only one way to go, K.F.G.,’ says a narrator with a southern twang in the 26-second Burger King video released Thursday. ‘Yeah y’all, it’s the King of Flame-Grilling and he’s introducing his new flame-grilled chicken sandwich…When it comes to flame-grilling, a King always outranks a colonel.’”

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HUMAN RESOURCES

Until recently, more than half of all farmworkers were undocumented but those numbers are plunging: “For the agriculture industry, the impact is acute. Each year, its labor force dwindles. To fill those positions, employers have turned to temporary visa programs that recruit workers in Mexico and Central America…

“Visa recruiters are now driving into remote villages in Mexico, broadcasting their hiring sprees on portable radios, loudspeakers and Facebook ads. In rural America, farmers are converting hotels into dormitories for visiting Mexican apple-pickers.”

New research suggests that a $15 minimum wage doesn’t just improve lives, it saves them: “For years, when American policymakers have debated the minimum wage, they have debated its effect on the labor market. Economists have gone around and around, rehashing the same questions about how wage bumps for the poorest workers could reduce employment, raise prices or curtail hours. What most didn’t ask was: When low-wage workers receive a pay increase, how does that affect their lives?

“But recently, a small group of researchers scattered around the country have begun to pursue this long-neglected question, specifically looking into the public-health effects of a higher minimum wage. A 2011 national study showed that low-skilled workers reported fewer unmet medical needs in states with higher minimum-wage rates. In high-wage states, workers were better able to pay for the care they needed. In low-wage states, workers skipped medical appointments.”

Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand-based finance firm, recently adjusted its work schedule to accommodate a four-day work week: “Productivity increased in the four days they worked so there was no drop in the total amount of work done, a study of the trial released on Tuesday has revealed…Details of an earlier trial showed the biggest increases were in commitment and empowerment. Staff stress levels were down from 45 percent to 38 percent. Work-life balance scores increased from 54 percent to 78 percent.”

FEEDBACK

What’s your take on the four-day work week? Let us know if you’re considering adopting it, or let us know if you think New Zealand has no idea what it’s doing. Send your thoughts to mattg@oxfordcenter.com.

GOING GLOBAL

The biggest beneficiary of Brexit just might be Ireland: “Stiff-upper-lip Britain’s tumble into confusion and calamity has heightened plucky Ireland’s reputation for calm and clarity and turned it into an attractive destination for upwards of 12,000 once-British jobs, according to the City of London’s own estimates.

“‘Brexit is creating a contrast that hasn’t existed before,’ says Kenneth Armstrong, a professor of European law at the University of Cambridge and author of Brexit Time. ‘It has unleashed Britain’s demons and given Ireland a halo. Ireland seems modern just as Westminster’s system of muddling through makes Britain seem like a Victorian relic.’

“In other words, as Britain self-combusts, Ireland—with its young workforce, low taxes, and English fluency—is poised to pounce.”

ZACK ELLER’S DEAL OF THE DAY

Loop Media, a music video experience company, has acquired ScreenPlay, a movie, game, and TV trailer provider. “It also sounds like this deepens an existing relationship, with Loop previously making a minority investment in ScreenPlay. There are plenty of other mobile apps featuring short videos, but Niermann said Loop can now take advantage of ScreenPlay’s content library, and also connect the venue experience with the app.”

SILICON VALLEY

Some tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are hiring startups like Ambrosia to inject them with “young people’s blood” as a way to fight against aging and common ailments: “Founder Jesse Karmazin told Business Insider that he charged $8,000 for a single liter and a discounted $12,000 for two. Among other things, the blood is allegedly supposed to counteract Alzheimer’s, heart disease, memory loss, even PTSD and multiple sclerosis. The company also performed its own clinical trial, the results of which were ‘really positive,’ according to Karmazin.” The FDA has told companies like these to cut it out.  

SPOTLIGHT

Commerce Dinner

05/09/2019 – 05/09/2019

6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Murphy’s

Address: 997 Virginia Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

Contact events@oxfordcenter.com to RSVP.

And that’s what’s ahead.

Please send comments and suggestions to mattg@oxfordcenter.com and lfeldman@oxfordcenter.com.

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