March: BlinkHealth offers RX by app; 'Uber-for-X' may not scale, GE logs on to the Internet of Things (IoT); Nokia plans to connect with consumers once more; police help addicts into rehab, rather than jail; maker spaces go to school.

'Like Groupon For Prescriptions'

Am I dreaming?! An app you can use at any of 60,000 pharmacies nationwide, that will automatically give you the best, price on your prescription? Yes, BlinkHealth is a real startup, the brainchild of two brothers who come from a family of doctors. The key to their business model is their ability to negotiate prices with the drug companies, keeping prices low even for people with no health insurance. On one hand, it's sad that the number of people with good-enough insurance, not-good-enough insurance, or no insurance at all make up a group large enough that drug companies would negotatiate prices to access this market. On the other hand: BlinkHealth.

'Uber For X' Isn't A Sure Thing

Many on-demand apps for such services as food delivery, grocery shopping, and parking, started in the wake of Uber's success, are struggling for survival, says the New York Times. Prices are rising, service is declining, business models are shifting, and in some cases, companies are closing down. Once Uber showed that on-demand could succeed, too much venture money went to companies with on-demand models. But on-demand parking or groceries don't offer value to as many customers, so some 'Uber-for-X' companies are taking longer to become profitable than their investors would like.

GE Transforms Itself For The IoT

Jeff Immelt’s efforts to push GE into the digital future have included selling off its finance and small appliance businesses, and adopting Lean Startup techniques to speed up the glacial pace of industrial invention and production. Most surprisingly, GE established a software outpost in Silicon Valley, recruiting young engineers with funny ads. Immelt is betting that GE, the only surviving member of the original Dow Jones Index of 1896, can remain relevant in the Internet of Things era by providing data from jet engines and wind turbines — data that will help the companies that own them run them more efficiently.

Nokia Calling

After Nokia sold its phone business to Microsoft, it was still the biggest company in Finland, providing networking gear and licensing patents to businesses. But Nokia CEO Rajiv Suri has never given up on the consumer phone business. His new calling plan comes with different business model this time, however. Nokia will provide the brand and the design expertise, and leave the manufacturing and sales activities to a partner.

Police Change The 'Business Model' Of Drug Addiction

In 2015, Gloucester, MA, police chief Leonard Campanello posted on the department's Facebook page that the Gloucester police would help drug addicts who turned themselves in — without arresting them or sending them to jail. Drug addicts from as far away as California came to Gloucester, where they were put in hospital recovery programs. Now, the nonprofit Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) supports the Gloucester effort and helps other police departments start similar programs. Campanello's approach flipped the traditional "business model" by switching the value police provide the community. Instead of working to disrupt the drug supply chain, they now work to reduce the number of drug addicts, devaluing the drug supply and thus, the demand. 

'Making' Makes Value For Students

Elementary schools, high schools, and colleges from California to New Jersey have added "maker spaces" and 3D printers. Coursera even offers an online course, “Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning.” Yes, the maker movement has entered education to great success, because it provides value beyond giving students "something to do with their hands." Schools and employers alike have learned that the mindsets and skill sets fostered by "tinkering" build critical on-the-job and life skills.

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