December 19, 2017

In recent years, a number of startups have quickly grown into powerhouse operations by selling certain products directly to customers. From the eyewear seller Warby Parker to the razor maker Harry’s, these companies have disrupted traditional industries by cutting out unnecessary middlemen from their supply chains. They’ve also inspired startups like Hubble, a subscription-based service that sells contact lenses. For just $1 per day or $30 per month, customers receive a supply of Acuvue Moist daily disposable contacts, one of Continue reading

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December 12, 2017

While many people dream of owning a big house with lots of room to move, others aren’t looking to take up too much space. Luckily for these modest home seekers, so-called “tiny houses” have become increasingly popular in recent years. Approximately 10,000 Americans currently live in these affordable and environmentally sustainable abodes that eliminate unneeded space. What’s more, at least 50 companies have popped up in the U.S. that construct tiny houses in all sorts of styles. But even with Continue reading

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December 7, 2017

A few summers ago, inventor Josh Malone found himself spending hours every week filling up water balloons for his eight children to throw at one another. Convinced that there had to be a more efficient way to build up a water balloon arsenal, he used his mechanical engineering expertise to develop a product called Bunch O Balloons. This device allowed him to fill dozens of balloons at one time and became an immediate hit with his family. After filing for Continue reading

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December 5, 2017

Over the last few years, bike-sharing programs have become commonplace in most of the world’s major cities. In New York, for instance, more than 10,000 Citibikes are available for visitors to ride at any time of day. All they need to do is find a docking station, pay a small fee to unlock a bike, and then return it to another kiosk whenever they’re finished. But some other cities aren’t nearly as orderly with their bike-sharing programs. In Wuhan, a Continue reading

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November 17, 2017

Since Uber’s founding in 2009, the ride-hailing service has relied on tens of thousands of drivers that it considers to be independent contractors. Although this policy has been controversial from the start, executives claim it is a vital component of the company’s historic growth rate. After all, the money that Uber saves from paying employment benefits allows it to charge lower fares. That explanation simply isn’t good enough for many critics, however, who claim the company is depriving drivers of Continue reading

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November 14, 2017

Each year American restaurants and supermarkets throw away $57 billion worth of food due to spoilage or lack of demand. An additional $15 billion in foodstuffs never even leaves farms, often because the crops are either damaged or simply too ugly to sell. Although companies try to donate as much unsold inventory as possible, the scale of the problem is far larger than the industry can currently handle.

That’s where startups like Spoiler Alert and FoodMaven come in. These Continue reading

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October 27, 2017

Since its founding in 2012, the women’s apparel seller LuLaRoe has grown into a powerful brand despite never stocking its clothes in stores. Instead, the company directly sells items to a team of independent consultants who find customers on their own. These representatives can eventually receive bonuses if they find new consultants to recruit, thus expanding the number of LuLaRoe sellers as well as customers. If you ask executives at the company, this direct selling strategy fits the mold Continue reading

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October 13, 2017

This light and breezy video takes you to Mcity, a tiny town that serves as the test track for the University of Michigan’s autonomous vehicle research program. Engineers observe closely as self-driving cars learn how to avoid pedestrians and navigate through obstacles in a realistic setting.

Questions:

  1. What is the benefit of testing products like autonomous vehicles in controlled but realistic settings?
  2. Do you think self-driving cars will become a common sight on the road within a few years?
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September 21, 2017

marketIn malls across the country, food courts act as hubs where shoppers can eat, drink, and take breaks from comparing price tags. Along with sharing a common purpose, these corrals of restaurants and drink stands often serve similar fare, too. After all, walk into any food court and you’re likely to find mainstay chains like Sbarro, Subway and Panda Express alongside a couple of local options.

This dependable if slightly boring structure served retail centers well for decades as shoppers Continue reading

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September 15, 2017

In the 17th century citizens of the Netherlands enjoyed an historic era of art and prosperity known as the Dutch Golden Age. Wealthy merchants spent lavishly on all sorts of luxuries, including a new flower imported from Turkey called the tulip. Demand for tulips reached incredible heights until the bottom suddenly fell out of the market. This short video looks at what many economists consider to be the first market bubble to burst.

Questions:

  1. How does the Dutch tulip craze Continue reading
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