business news in context, analysis with attitude

The continuing goal of "The Innovation Conversation" is to explore some facet of the fast-changing, technology-driven retail landscape and how it affects businesses and consumers. It is, we think, fertile territory ... and one that Tom Furphy - a former Amazon executive, the originator of Amazon Fresh, and currently CEO and Managing Director of Consumer Equity Partners (CEP), a venture capital and venture development firm in Seattle, WA, that works with many top retailers and manufacturers - is uniquely positioned to address.

Today, Tom and KC talk about two online businesses facing different kinds of troubles.  First, there's Gopuff, in which the founders appear to have gotten over their skis in making acquisitions and growing their offerings, to the point where it has created questions about the validity of their business model. And second, there's StitchFix, where the company's leadership ignored customer testing data and launched a program that veered away from its popular subscription offering.  While in both cases the companies are facing an apparent diminution of their brand equity, Tom and KC agree that neither scenario signals a flaw in their basic value propositions.  Rather, both Gopuff and StitchFix offer lessons in how to grow, how far to veer out your lane when innovating, and how to decide whether such detours are worth the thrill.

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